New York Life Insurance Company (NYLIC) is the third-largest life insurance company in the United States and one of the largest life insurers in the world, ranking #65 on the 2017 Fortune 500 list, with about $570 billion in total assets under management, and more than $25 billion in surplus and AVR. In 2007, NYLIC achieved the best possible ratings by the four independent rating companies (Standard & Poor’s, AM Best, Moody’s and Fitch). Other New York Life affiliates provide an array of securities products and services, as well as institutional and retail mutual funds.
New York Life Insurance Company first opened in Manhattan’s Financial District as Nautilus Mutual Life in 1845, 10 years after the first life insurance charter was granted in the United States.
Originally chartered in 1841, the company also sold fire and marine insurance. The company’s first president, James De Peyster Ogden, was appointed in 1845. Nautilus renamed itself New York Life Insurance Company in 1849 to concentrate on its life insurance business.
In its early years (1846–1848) the company, along with other insurance companies of the day including Aetna and US Life, insured the lives of slaves for their owners. The board of trustees voted to end the sale of insurance policies on slaves in 1848. The company also sold policies to soldiers and civilians involved in combat during the American Civil War and paid claims under a flag of truce during that time. In the late 1800s, the company began employing female agents.
New York Life continued to grow throughout its first 100 years as the national population and the market for life insurance increased. New York Life’s growth was in part fueled by its introduction of a system by which the company used agents to find new business. In 1892, company President John A. McCall introduced the branch office system: offices that served as liaisons between New York and field agents.
In 1894, the company became the first US-based insurance provider to offer life insurance to women at the same cost as men; social reformer Susan B. Anthony was one of the company’s first female policyholders. In 1896, New York Life became the first company to insure people with disabilities or in hazardous occupations.
New York Life Building
The New York Life Building at 51 Madison Avenue in Manhattan, designed by American architect Cass Gilbert, opened in December 1928. The company moved into the 34-story skyscraper in 1929. Later that year, New York Life’s assets survived the stock market crash; state regulation and company investing policy had led New York Life to invest in government bonds and real estate, not common stocks.
Following World War II, New York Life further diversified; it invested in real estate development in the late 1940s and launched a mortgage-loan program for veterans in 1946. In 1957, New York Life hired one of the industry’s first black agents, Cirilo McSween. In the 1970s, New York Life began selling annuities and mutual funds. In the late 1990s and early 2000s, as other mutual life insurance companies became publicly traded corporations, New York Life remained a mutual company. New York Life entered the Mexican market in 1999 when it acquired Seguros Monterrey from Aetna.
New York Life, along with other insurance companies, relaxed the claims process for missing persons in the wake of the September 11 attacks. Fearful of the stability of the market during the two years prior to the financial crisis of 2007–2008, New York Life moved its cash into other investments such as treasury bonds. In the ensuing financial crisis, New York Life Insurance Company rejected assistance from the U.S. Treasury Department.
Following the 2013 acquisition of Dexia Asset Management, later renamed Candriam Investors Group, New York Life Investments became one of the largest asset managers worldwide, with access to markets in Europe, Asia and Australia, in addition to the United States.
As of 2016, New York Life Insurance Company was the country’s third-largest life insurance company. A mutual insurance company, New York Life is owned by its policyholders and has no outside shareholders. As a mutual, New York Life distributes a portion of its earnings to eligible policyholders as annual dividends. As of 2016, the company has paid a dividend every year since 1854. Through Seguros Monterrey New York Life, the company offers insurance in Mexico.
New York Life’s core product is whole life insurance, a type of life insurance offering lifelong protection that builds cash value over time. New York Life also sells term life insurance, universal life insurance, variable universal life insurance, long-term care insurance and annuities. The company operates New York Life Direct, selling direct-to-consumer policies, and is the exclusive life insurance partner of the AARP.
New York Life Insurance Company, a mutual life insurance company, together with its subsidiaries, provides a range of insurance and investment products and services. The company offers term and whole life insurance, long-term care insurance, pension products, disability insurance, and mutual funds. It also provides variable, fixed, and guaranteed income annuities; a suite of services, including finance and accounting, sales and marketing, and compliance and administration services; and business insurance solutions. In addition, the company invests in limited partnerships and limited liability companies, consolidated investment companies, derivatives, securities purchased under agreement to resell, short-term investments, real estate, senior secured commercial loans, and loans of various consolidated variable interest entities. Further, it offers securities brokerage, financial planning, investment management and advisory, trust, and capital financing services. New York Life Insurance Company offers its insurance and annuity products in the United States and its territories, Mexico, and Canada through its career agency force, as well as through third party banks, brokers, and independent financial advisors; and investment management and advisory services in the United States, Europe, Asia, and Australia. The company was founded in 1845 and is based in New York, New York.