Genworth plans to raise some LTCI rates 50%

By National Underwriter

National Underwriter


By Allison Bell

Executives at Genworth Financial Inc. (NYSE:GNW) said the company wants to raise rates on a majority of its older long-term care insurance (LTCI) policies by 50% over 5 years and to raise rates on many of the oldest "new generation" LTCI by 25% over 5 years.

Genworth, Richmond, Va., also plans to introduce a new family of LTCI products in 2013 that will require applicants to undergo the kinds of blood tests and other laboratory tests that are now common in life insurance underwriting, Patrick Kelleher, an executive vice president at Genworth, said today during a call covering the company's second-quarter earnings.

Genworth wants to use the lab tests to look at conditions that might affect the likelihood that an applicant will need long-term care (LTC) services, Kelleher said.

The company also wants to charge different rates for men and women, to reflect gender-related differences in use of LTC services; to eliminate lifetime benefits options; and to incorporate new assumptions about the returns on the investments backing LTC policies, Kelleher said.

Unlike many of the policies sold before 2003, the older policies in the generation of policies sold since 2003 have generally been profitable, Kelleher said.

But profits have fallen short of expectations because of lower-than-expected lapse rates, higher-than-expected claims, and low interest rates, and "we believe that early intervention on the newer block is important to managing the performance of this business," Kelleher said.

Company executives said Genworth hopes LTCI rate increases already being implemented will add $50 million in new revenue this year and $60 million next year, and that the new rounds of rate increases will add $200 million to $300 million in annual revenue.

Kelleher noted that LTCI policy benefits and underwriting changes announced in July, such as a move to drop a coverage option providing access to an unlimited amount of LTCI benefits, should be the equivalent of increasing the cost of the products by about 20%.

Martin Klein, Genworth's acting chief executive officer (CEO), said the company had divided operations into strategic operations and operations held for investment purposes, and that it would give information about specific transactions at the appropriate time.

LTCI products are important to consumers, Klein said.

"These products need to provide value not only for policyholders but also for shareholders," Klein said. "We're taking significant remedial steps in this business."

Genworth is reporting $76 million in net income for the latest quarter on $1.9 billion in revenue, up from a $136 million net loss on $1.9 billion in revenue for the second quarter of 2011.

LTCI unit operating income dropped to $14 million on $797 million in revenue, from $18 million on $729 million in revenue.

Individual LTCI sales increased to $53 million, from $50 million, and group LTCI sales increased to $7 million, from $2 million.

Although the company reported positive net income this quarter, and the LTCI unit is still profitable, the company's shares have been trading for a price of about $5, down from a range of $20 to $35 before the economy slumped in 2008.

"We must rebuild value for shareholders," Klein said.

Klein said the company also must make sure it can meet its commitments to its policyholders.

Securities analysts on the call seemed to be asking about information they could use to estimate unusual charges, such as writedowns of deferred acquisition costs, that Genworth might take in connection with the LTC business in a future quarter.

Originally published on LifeHealthPro.com