Company Profile and History
Metropolitan Life Insurance Company of New York City, was formed in 1863. It took the name Metropolitan Life Insurance Company in 1868 and became a mutual company in 1915. The company demutualized in 2000 and became a stock company. Its initial public offering was for $6.5 billion, the largest IPO at the time. Its 11 million policyholders in 2000 made Met life insurance the largest insurer.
The company is a diversified financial services company. It offers life, accident, and health insurance products. Metlife life insurance provides retirement services and annuities to its customers. The company announced the formation of a separate company in January 2016 for its U.S. retail business. On March 6, 2016, Brighhouse Financial was formed for life insurance and annuity sales.
The company also completed the sale of a portion of its remaining retail sales force to MassMutual Financial, a Springfield, MA insurer in July 2016. The sale netted Metlife life insurance $291 million and changed focus to group, institutional, and product manufacturing activities.
MetLife sells life insurance and annuities through its Brighthouse Financial. Brighthouse (formerly Met life insurance) is an independent wholly-owned subsidiary of MetLife. The products offered to retail customers include:
- Life Insurance
- Level Term Life Insurance (Term)
- Universal Life Insurance (UL)
- Variable Life Insurance (VLI)
- Fixed annuities (FA)
- Variable annuities (VA)
- Long-term care insurance
Additional the company provides accident and health insurance products as well as auto and home coverages. Variable annuities and variable life insurance products are sold be representatives of Metropolitan Life Insurance Company who are FINRA registered representatives. These products are offered through the company’s insurance-affiliated broker-dealer (IABD), MetLife Securities, Inc. (MLSI).
Company Ratings and Financial Strength
Met Life Insurance Company (through the newly formed company Brighthouse Financial) has received the following ratings:
- A.M. Best: A (Excellent)
- Fitch: A (Strong)
- Moody’s: A3 (Upper Medium)
- Standard & Poor’s: A+ (Strong)
The latest 10-K annual report that the company has on file with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission shows strong results for 2016. The company’s general account portfolio has a value of $265.2 billion. This value makes the company one of the largest institutional investors in the world. Additionally, the company earned $39.45 billion in revenue for a net income of $1.76 billion. The company collected life insurance premiums and UL policy fees of $24.9 billion. The amount represents 63% of the total revenue reported in 2016.
Company’s Regulatory Concerns
Metropolitan Life Insurance Company’s IABD, Met Life Securities, was the subject of the largest variable annuities fine in FINRA history. The company, in May 2016, was fined $25 million by the regulator for its sales practices related to variable annuities. FINRA found that the representatives of MLSI misrepresented the nature of the company’s variable annuity contracts. This misrepresentation, deemed negligent, resulted in customers purchasing products that were not in their interest.
The company omitted or failed to disclose certain material facts to customers regarding the replacement of their annuity contracts. This activity brought in a total of $152 million in commissions to Met Life Insurance over the period 2009-2014. The nature of FINRA’s actions against the company related to certain sales practices abuses, including:
- Failure to disclose the reduction in benefits when exchanging an existing annuity with a new Met life annuity;
- Misrepresentation of the higher fees and expenses found in the MetLife Life Insurance contracts; and,
- Misrepresentation of values in a customer’s existing VA over the replacing Met life insurance VA.
These abuses occurred in more than 72% of the 35,500 VA replacement applications submitted. The regulator found fault with the firm’s supervisory mechanism. Nearly all of the submitted transactions were approved by the MLSI principals. This occurred, despite the fact that nearly three-quarters of the submissions contained information that was not accurate.
Company’s Customer Complaints
Many of the customer complaints that Met Life Insurance Company receives deal with issues surrounding customer service, and claims. This is based on information found on line for complaints filed with the Better Business Bureau and Consumer Affairs.com. Customers have made claims that the company has engaged in a practice of delaying the payment of claims made for life insurance. Complaints about the company focus on poor customer service and communication during the claims making process. Metlife life insurance company has a rating of B- from the Better Business Bureau. This rating is in line with the types of complaints that are found against the company through other sources. Customer service appears to be the highest source for complaints and frustration of those people dealing with the company.
Metlife life insurance; Met life insurance; Metropolitan Life Insurance Company
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