New York Life Insurance Company

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New York Life Insurance Company
Industry Insurance: life and annuity
Founded 1845
Headquarters New York Life Building
New York City, New York, U.S.
Key people
Ted Mathas, CEO and Chairman
Products Life insurance, annuities, long-term care, asset management
IncreaseUS$1.95 billion (2016)[1]
AUM IncreaseUS$537.78 billion (2016)[1]
Number of employees
11,320 (2017)[2]

New York Life Insurance Company (NYLIC) is the third-largest life insurance company in the United States[3] and one of the largest life insurers in the world, ranking #61 on the 2016 Fortune 500 list,[4] with about $550 billion in total assets under management, and more than $21 billion in surplus and AVR.[5] 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.


Early history[edit]

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.[6][7] Originally chartered in 1841, the company also sold fire and marine insurance.[8] The company's first president, James De Peyster Ogden, was appointed in 1845.[9] Nautilus renamed itself New York Life Insurance Company in 1849 to concentrate on its life insurance business.[6][8]

In its early years (1846–1848) the company insured the lives of slaves for their owners.[6] The board of trustees voted to end the sale of insurance policies on slaves in 1848.[6] 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.[10][11] In the late 1800s, the company began employing female agents.[12]

New York Life continued to grow throughout its first 100 years as the national population and the market for life insurance increased.[13] 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.[13] In 1892, company President John A. McCall introduced the branch office system: offices that served as liaisons between New York and field agents.[13]

20th century[edit]

The New York Life Building at 51 Madison Avenue in Manhattan, designed by American architect Cass Gilbert, opened in December 1928.[14] The company moved into the 34-story skyscraper in 1929.[13] 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.[13]

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.[13] In 1957, New York Life hired one of the industry's first black agents, Cirilo McSween.[6][15] In the 1970s, New York Life began selling annuities and mutual funds.[13] In the late 1990s and early 2000s, as other mutual life insurance companies became publicly traded corporations, New York Life remained a mutual company.[13] New York Life entered the Mexican market in 1999 when it acquired Seguros Monterrey from Aetna.[16]

Recent history[edit]

New York Life, along with other insurance companies, relaxed the claims process for missing persons in the wake of the September 11 attacks.[13] 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.[11] In the ensuing financial crisis, New York Life Insurance Company rejected assistance from the U.S. Treasury Department.[17]

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.[18]

Policyholder service improvements[edit]

In 2009, examiners from the New Jersey Department of Banking and Insurance, in full cooperation with NYLIC, worked to identify areas where improvements could be made in policyholder services. In other areas such as complaints, replacement file review, underwriting, claims review, and advertising and forms, the Department examiners found no errors in the NYLIC reviewed files.[19]:3,6,9-12 The complete findings were as follows:

  • Claims, Marketing and Sales: 0% error ratio[19]:3
  • Policyholder services: 13% error ratio[19]:3
    • According to the report, "The examiners found four complaints where New York Life failed to provide a written response to the complainant within a reasonable period of 10 working days."[19]:3
  • Replacement file review: No problems[19]:6,9
  • Underwriting: 0% error ratio[19]:10
  • Claims review: 0% error ratio[19]:11
  • Advertising and forms: 0% error ratio[19]:12

In addition to those areas, a review was also conducted regarding the disciplinary actions performed on agents of the company. The review found that of 11 agents disciplined, none were for "activities related to the replacement of annuities or life insurance policies".[19]:13 With regards to improving policyholder services, the examiners noted they were "satisfied that the Companies (NYLIC) have taken or will take corrective measures pursuant to the recommendations of the Report."[19]:i


The company is owned by its policyholders and has no outside shareholders.[20] As a mutual, New York Life distributes a portion of its earnings to eligible policyholders as annual dividends.[13][21] As of 2016, the company has paid a dividend every year since 1854.[22] Through Seguros Monterrey New York Life, the company offers insurance in Mexico.[23]

NY Life Building, Kansas City

New York Life Insurance buildings[edit]

The New York Life Insurance Company has commissioned a number of buildings:


  1. ^ a b "2016 Annual Report" (PDF). New York Life Insurance Company. Retrieved 31 May 2017.  p. ii
  2. ^ "Fortune 500". Fortune. Retrieved 27 June 2017. 
  3. ^ Rachel Swarns. "Insurance Policies on Slaves: New York Life's Complicated Past". 
  4. ^ "New York Life Insurance Financials and News - Fortune 500". Fortune. Retrieved June 10, 2015. 
  5. ^ "New York Life 2012 Annual Report" (PDF). New York Life Insurance Company. Retrieved 2013-07-30. 
  6. ^ a b c d e Rachel Swarns (December 18, 2016). "Insurance Policies on Slaves: New York Life's Complicated Past". New York Times. Retrieved May 26, 2017. 
  7. ^ "An early history of life insurance". Library of Congress. 15 August 2012. Retrieved 30 May 2017. 
  8. ^ a b "Landmarks Preservation Commission February 10, 1987; Designation List 187 LP-1512" (PDF). New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission. 10 February 1987. Retrieved 30 May 2017. 
  9. ^ Hudnut, James Monroe (1906). History of the New York Life Insurance Company, 1895-1905. New York: New York Life Insurance Company. p. 2. 
  10. ^ Hudnut, James Monroe (1906). History of the New York Life Insurance Company, 1895-1905. New York: New York Life Insurance Company. p. 169. 
  11. ^ a b t (December 8, 2010). "NY Life ex-Chairman Sy Sternberg on Trust in the Life Insurance Business: Trust Quotes #16". Trusted Advisor. Retrieved March 26, 2017. 
  12. ^ Niccolls, J. Fremont (July 1937). "A woman agent in the '90's". NYLIC Review. 
  13. ^ a b c d e f g h i j "New York Life Insurance Company History". International Directory of Company Histories. Retrieved 30 May 2017. 
  14. ^ "New York Life Building". Cass Gilbert Society. Retrieved 30 May 2017. 
  15. ^ Martin L. Deppe (2017). Operation Breadbasket: An Untold Story of Civil Rights in Chicago, 1966–1971. Athens, Georgia: University of Georgia Press. p. 69. ISBN 9780820350455. Retrieved 30 May 2017. 
  16. ^ Lohse, Deborah; Millman, Joel (7 December 1999). "New York Life Insurance to buy Mexican insurer for $570 million". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 30 May 2017. 
  17. ^ "Two insurers reject government bailout help". NBC News. 9 November 2008. Retrieved 30 May 2017. 
  18. ^ Orzeck, Kurt (24 September 2013). "New York Life buys Dexia Asset Management arm for $512M". Law360. Retrieved 30 May 2017. 
  19. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Considine, Thomas B. (14 September 2010). "Market Conduct Examination of New York Life Insurance Company and New York Life Insurance and Annuities and New York Life Insurance Company of Arizona located in New York, NY" (PDF). New Jersey State Government Portal ( State of New Jersey, Department of Banking and Insurance, Office of Consumer Protection Services, Market Conduct Examination Unit & Anti-Fraud Compliance. 
  20. ^ John E. Girouard (February 10, 2009). "A Financial Bunker For Scary Times". Forbes. Retrieved May 11, 2017. 
  21. ^ "New York Life Insurance Review 2017". NerdWallet. 2017. Retrieved 30 May 2017. 
  22. ^ 2016 Annual Report, p. 2
  23. ^ "Company Overview of Seguros Monterrey New York Life, S.A. de C.V." Bloomberg LP. Retrieved 30 May 2017. 

External links[edit]