Celebrating Over 160 Years of Strength and Innovation
Being a leader in the financial services industry means not resting on one’s laurels, but continually striving for improvement. Ours is a history notable for consistent financial strength as well as dynamic innovation. For a century and a half, New York Life’s first priority has been our policyowners’ financial well-being. To keep pace with policyowners’ needs, the Company has launched new products, enhanced product features, expanded quality service, and pioneered new technologies. Breaking new ground is part of the New York Life tradition. That’s what makes us “A Company of Firsts.”Unsurpassed Financial Strength
1845 – New York Life declares the first cash dividend ever paid to policyowners in America.
As a mutual insurer, New York Life is operated and maintained for the benefit of policyowners. And virtually every year since its inception, New York Life has declared dividends to those policyowners — over $27 billion in total. In 2001, New York Life made the highest total dividends distribution in our history — approximately $1.46 billion.
1899 – New York Life becomes the first American life insurance company to publish a detailed financial report for its policyowners.
Early financial reports showed a Company with a strong foundation and a promising future. Starting modestly with assets of $17,000 in 1845, the Company has grown to over $138 billion in assets under management. Those first financial reports showed a company with a sound, conservative investment philosophy. Today, we remain true to that prudent approach to investing. Three-quarters of our assets are invested in bonds, with 93% of that bond portfolio held in investment grade bonds.
Our Commitment to Our Customers
1894 – New York Life becomes the first United States company to issue life insurance to women at the same rates as men.
Susan B. Anthony, the 19th-century American social reformer, believed strongly that if women were to achieve political equality, they had to be financially independent. She was one of the first women to own an insurance policy, and her insurer was New York Life.
1896 – New York Life becomes the first company to insure people with physical impairments or hazardous occupations.
Using a scientific basis to evaluate people with substandard risks, New York Life was able to issue policies to people previously considered uninsurable. This innovation — praised by experts at the time as the single greatest advancement in life insurance — enabled millions of people (who in the past would have been declined) to qualify for life insurance and protect their families’ financial future.
Adding Value and Flexibility to Life Insurance
1860 – New York Life becomes the first company to issue policies containing a “non-forfeiture option.”
Before any state law required it, New York Life developed the non-forfeiture option, which formed the foundation of guaranteed cash values found in policies today. This feature enables a policy to remain in force even when a premium payment is inadvertently missed. Today, policyowners have various ways to apply cash values to prevent their policies from lapsing. Typically, the options include automatic premium loan, extended term insurance, and reduced paid-up insurance.
1892 – New York Life becomes the first major company to issue policies with an incontestable clause.
To give policyowners even more peace of mind, New York Life sets a time limit on the insurer’s right to dispute a policy’s validity based on material misstatements made in the application.
1920 – New York Life becomes the first company to issue a policy with a disability benefit that presumes total disability to be permanent after a predetermined number of months.
New York Life has long been a leader in liberal insurance concepts. The Company provides a benefit that waives premiums when the insured is disabled for a predetermined period of time.
1956 – New York Life becomes the first company to offer the convenience of Check-O-Matic premium payments.
This innovation relieves policyowners of the burdensome task of writing a check to make premium payments. Policyowners can now authorize New York Life to draw funds directly from their bank accounts to pay premiums each month.
1992 – New York Life becomes the first major insurer to offer policies with an Unemployment Rider.
To help aid policyowners through hard times, this no-cost rider offers to waive premiums if policyowners become unemployed for a predetermined period of time. Earlier, the Company introduced the Living Benefits Rider. Should an insured become terminally ill, this rider provides for a benefit payment that can be used to pay medical expenses during this difficult time.
Our Focus on Quality Service
1892 – New York Life becomes the first insurer to organize a Branch Office System.
To provide the highest possible level of service to our expanding customer base, the Company established an integrated network of General Offices across the country. Today, these “G.O.s” serve our nearly 11,000 agents. We believe this highly trained team of dedicated professionals is our most valuable asset. Our agents have been honored by the industry for outstanding service to their clients, and New York Life has consistently led the industry in membership in the Million Dollar Round Table, an organization devoted to promoting exemplary ethical standards of the insurance industry.
1989 – New York Life becomes the first insurer to require continuing education for its agents.
To provide agents with the knowledge they require to keep pace with the rapidly changing financial services marketplace, the Company launched NYLIC University in January 1995. This program is designed to give uniform, comprehensive training to both new and established agents. In addition, many agents have successfully met stringent academic standards, earning prestigious professional designations such as CLU, ChFC, and MSFS.
1998 – New York Life becomes the first major insurance company to offer robust customer service on the Web.
In May, 1998, New York Life launched the Virtual Service Center on its Web site, becoming thereby the first major life insurer to provide a full range of customer service capabilities on the World Wide Web. At the Virtual Service Center, New York Life customers can request policy cash, loan, and dividend values, download change of address and beneficiary forms, report the death of an insured, and so on. The Virtual Service Center shows convincingly how New York Life has dedicated itself to meeting the rising needs of our customers for robust service wherever and whenever they need it.