Why New York Life?
“The primary responsibility of a mutual insurance company is to ensure that the long-term benefits promised to its policyholders are secure and protected. By remaining a mutual, New York Life can continue to manage for the long term, instead of the quarter-to-quarter orientation of the investment community.”
— Chairman and CEO Sy SternbergThe First Choice Since 1845
For more than 160 years, New York Life Insurance Company’s unwavering financial strength and time-tested investment strategies have provided consistent value and solid financial protection for our clients and their families.
Since becoming the first American life insurance company to pay a cash dividend to policyholders in the mid-1800s, New York Life has continued to build a history of innovation — enhancing our existing product lines, creating new financial products, and maintaining a diversified portfolio to best accommodate our customers’ changing needs and lifestyles.
Central to our success are our New York Life agents, who are widely recognized as the best-trained professionals in the industry. Our agents have the ability to understand each customer’s objectives and draw upon New York Life’s products to best address those objectives.
As you seek financial security for yourself and your loved ones, you want the best: A strong and vital company with a competitive product line and a superior sales force that is committed to providing personal attention to your individual needs.
This section of the Web site is designed to provide you with a brief overview of New York Life — our core strength, our commitment to excellence, and our people. Learn why we’re The Company You Keep.
Why We’re a Mutual Company
The life insurance business is unique. People pay us premiums for many years and receive nothing in return but a promise that New York Life will be there, strong and solvent, decades from now, to help pay a claim, fund a retirement, or meet nursing home costs.
That’s why it’s important that we’re a mutual insurance company. A mutual insurance company is a company that is not publicly traded. Therefore, it has no stock to be bought and sold and no shareholders. Instead, policyholders share in the ownership of the company. For this reason, unlike publicly traded companies that manage their business for the short-term benefit of shareholders, we are guided by the longer-term needs and expectations of our policyholders. This makes New York Life, essentially, a partner in your long-term planning.
Financial Strength: Promises Kept
It all begins with financial strength, which allows us to meet our future obligations to policyholders. Along with nearly $169 billion in consolidated assets1, New York Life Insurance Company holds a stable and diversified portfolio and consistently receives among the highest ratings for financial strength from the life insurance industry’s independent rating agencies. We’ve earned these ratings: Our capital position is one of the strongest in the industry, giving us the financial strength to weather unexpected storms.
New York Life (NYL) has received among the highest ratings for financial strength from the life insurance industry’s principal rating agencies:
A.M. Best (A++)
Standard & Poor’s (AA+)*
S&P Rating on Positive Outlook
Total Surplus: Another Critical Benchmark
An insurer’s ability to maintain a high level of financial stability while meeting financial objectives is another clear indicator of its long-term security. One way to assess an insurer’s strength in this area is to consider its total surplus.
Surplus is essentially New York Life’s net worth. It represents the accumulated earnings over the years from our business operation after all obligations are met. It’s our safety margin in economic downturns and can be used to fuel the Company’s growth.
Surplus is the most important single indicator of a mutual insurance company’s financial strength. This strength ensures our ability to fulfill our long-term commitments to our policyholders.
New York Life’s Surplus: Strength in Our Numbers
New York Life has a total surplus, including investment reserves, of $11.8 billion and a surplus-to-assets ratio of 8.2%.
Capital & Surplus
– New York Life: $12.9 billion2
– Average of Top 25 Insurers: $7.3 billion3
– New York Life Surplus as a Percentage of Assets: 8.3%2
– Average of Top 25 Insurers Surplus as a Percentage of Assets: 5.3%3
Disciplined Investment Management
Wise investments and conservative balance sheet management are the foundation of New York Life’s financial strength. Our investment portfolio is diversified and stable. In fact, the majority of New York Life’s assets are invested in fixed income securities, and 92 percent of these securities have investment grade ratings by the National Association of Insurance Commissioners as of 12/31/05.
Diligent expense control — reflected in New York Life’s low expense ratio (this refers to the ratio of general expenses to net premiums written) — is further testimony to our sound financial management and our commitment to providing the best possible value to our policyholders.
Translating Strength into Value
Participating policyholders of a mutual insurance company are contractually allowed to share in the company’s periodic distributions. In other words, they receive dividends when they are declared by the board of directors.4
Since the mid-1800s, New York Life has paid more than $35 billion in dividends to our participating policyholders with permanent life insurance policies. In 2004 alone, we paid approximately $1.4 billion in dividends to our participating policyholders.
When dividends are declared, as a participating policyholder, you’ll have several options. For example, you can use the dividend to enhance the value of an existing policy or purchase new life insurance, if you think your family needs more protection. If you’ve made consistent premium payments for a number of years, you can have future payments made from current and accumulated dividends. Or you can simply spend the dividends. It’s up to you.
Humanity is Our Cornerstone
One of New York Life’s core values is its commitment to humanity. In fact, our charitable contributions date back to 1853, when the Company helped victims of a yellow fever outbreak in New Orleans. Since then, New York Life has distinguished itself by responding in times of crisis, helping to build stronger, more vibrant communities and contributing resources to address emerging social issues.
In 1951, the Company established the first formal contributions budget. In 1979, the New York Life Foundation — the primary vehicle through which the Company supports charitable causes — was established. Since then, the Foundation has donated more than $75 million to national and local nonprofit organizations, including Camp Fire USA, the Hispanic Scholarship Fund, Girls Inc., and the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture.
In 1998, the foundation implemented its Nurturing the Children initiative, which focuses on childhood education and mentoring programs. Since the Foundation’s inceptions, we’ve given more than $100 million in grants. $26 million has been devoted to the Nurturing the Children initiative as of Janurary 1, 2006.
For all of these reasons, we believe that while we are known for a long history of financial strength, our greatest strength comes from our firm belief in humanity and compassion.
Always Leading the Way
Life insurance is the backbone of our business, and we’re very proud of our innovations in designing financial services for people at every income level. In addition to providing a broad range of quality products, we offer a variety of policy riders that can tailor a product to meet your changing needs and circumstances. For instance, such riders can make it possible for you to skip premium payments during times of disability, provide for a surviving spouse’s retirement, and offer small business solutions.
New York Life was the first U.S. life insurer to declare and pay a cash dividend to policyholders in America.
New York Life was the first insurer to issue life insurance to women at the same rates as men at a time when women traditionally paid more for coverage.
New York Life was the first to insure people with physical impairments or hazardous occupations.
New York Life was first to offer customers a convenient direct-withdrawal method for paying premiums.
New York Life was the first insurer to require its agents to pursue a formal continuing education program.
Agents: Putting Clients First
New York Life has a vibrant and highly committed sales force that sets us apart. In fact, we were one of the first insurance companies in the world to develop a network of dedicated career agents to sell its products.
Customer satisfaction is our agents’ driving force, so their primary responsibility is to ensure that clients and their loved ones have optimal protection, and to help policyholders achieve a variety of financial goals.
Our agents are well qualified for this important work. Many have received their CLU (Chartered Life Underwriter) and ChFC (Chartered Financial Consultant) designations, and hold higher level degrees. Our field force’s ongoing commitment to continuing education reflects their dedication to equip themselves with the best tools available in order to serve you better.
New York Life agents rightfully earn the trust and loyalty of their clients. Perhaps that’s why our agents have led the world in Million Dollar Round Table memberships — the most prestigious of life insurance honors — for 50 consecutive years. The Million Dollar Round Table is an association of leading sales professionals in the life insurance industry.
Join the New York Life Family
New York Life has been the insurer of choice for Americans from every walk of life for seven generations — from little leaguers to baseball legends, from small business owners to captains of industry, scientists to socialites, homemakers to entertainers.
Throughout our long and distinguished history, we have insured more than our share of famous faces, including Babe Ruth, J.C. Penney, Nat King Cole, and 10 U.S. presidents.
But you don’t have to be famous to be important to New York Life. We believe each of our policyholders is special, and we are committed to being there for all who have entrusted us with their financial future.