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The New York Life Insurance Company (NYLIC) is the largest mutual life-insurance company in the United States, and one of the largest life insurers in the world.[1] Other New York Life affiliates provide an array of securities products and services, as well as institutional and retail mutual funds. The company is listed as #82 in the 2008 Fortune 100.[2] In 2007, Standard and Poor's upgraded New York Life Insurance Company's insurance financial strength rating to AAA, the highest rating Standard and Poor's assigns. The company is now one of only three life insurers to hold the highest possible rating from all four major rating agencies.[3]

HistoryEdit

File:New York Life Building 2.jpg

The company was founded in 1845 as the Nautilus Insurance Company in New York City, with assets of just $17,000. It was renamed the New York Life Insurance Company in 1849. Its first headquarters were at 112-114 Broadway; the first president was James DePeyster Ogden. The current New York Life headquarters was designed by noted architect Cass Gilbert and completed in 1928. The New York Life building, at 51 Madison Avenue, was constructed during the presidency of Darwin P. Kingsley. He expanded the company's operations and developed new types of insurance. As with other early insurance companies in the U.S., in its early years the company insured the lives of slaves for their owners. In response to bills passed in California in 2001 and in Illinois in 2003, the company reported that Nautilus sold 485 slaveholder life insurance policies during a two-year period in the 1840s; they added that their trustees voted to end the sale of such policies 15 years before the Emancipation Proclamation.[4]

The company became known for innovative business practices. In 1860, well before state laws required it, New York Life developed the non-forfeiture option, the predecessor to the guaranteed cash values of modern policies, under which a policy remains in force even if a premium payment is missed. It was also the first American life insurance company to pay a cash dividend to policyholders, and the first U.S. company to issue policies to women at the same rates as men. Susan B. Anthony was one of their first female policy holders, and her father worked for NYLIC.[5] In 1896, New York Life became the first company to insure people with disabilities and the first to issue a policy with a disability benefit that presumes total disability to be permanent after a predetermined period.

In the late 1990s New York Life was one of several large mutual life insurers to back a bill that would allow demutualization into a structure known as a mutual holding company (MHC). CEO Sternberg himself argued strongly in favor of the bill,[6] which was ultimately defeated. The NYLIC board of directors subsequently reversed course, with the company strongly and publicly embracing their mutual nature in a series of advertisements.

According to their Report to Policyholders 2007, in early 2007 the company's managers became concerned about the state of credit markets, so in February 2007 "based on our belief that the markets were acting irrationally" New York Life decided to move much of its cash flow into safer investments such as US Treasury bonds. "By August 2007, the credit market problems we had feared were front page news," the Report notes.

Business scopeEdit

Both NYL (its primary American insurance subsidiary, New York Life Insurance and Annuity Corporation) are licensed to do business in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.[7][8] The company also sells annuities and long-term care insurance; mutual funds through its subsidiary NYLIFE Securities, a registered broker-dealer; and provides institutional asset-management and retirement-plan services from subsidiary New York Life Investment Management (NYLIM).[9][10]

ReferencesEdit

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External linksEdit

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