While its name evolved from "metropolitan," MetLife's insurance policies are found in villages, towns, and huge cities around the world. Operating through its Metropolitan Life Insurance Company subsidiary, MetLife is the largest life insurer in the US. Its Insurance Products segment includes all of its group and individual life insurance and non-medical health insurance products (dental, disability, illness). Its Retirement Products segment includes annuity products. MetLife's Auto & Home segment works through subsidiary Metropolitan Property and Casualty Insurance. Internationally, MetLife is a big player in Japan, and growing in more than 50 other countries, especially in Latin America.
The company operates in the Americas and Asia, and in Europe, the Middle East, and Africa (EMEA). In Latin America it operates in Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Mexico, and Uruguay (which the bulk of regional revenues coming from Mexico, Chile, and Argentina).
It largest operations in Asia are in Japan and Korea. It also does business in Australia, Bangladesh, Hong Kong, Nepal, and Pakistan, and through a joint venture in China.
MetLife operates in more than 30 countries across EMEA. The company's biggest operations are in France, Poland, the UAE, and the UK.
While the US remains its largest overall market, international sales accounted for about 30% of MetLife's revenues.
The company's Retail segment is organized into two businesses: life and other (variable life products, universal life products, term life products, whole life products, disability products, property & casualty); and annuities (variable annuities and fixed annuities).
The Group, Voluntary and Worksite Benefits segment is organized into Group and Voluntary and Worksite. Group insurance products and services include life, dental, group short- and long-term disability and accidental death and dismemberment coverages.
The Corporate Benefit Funding segment handles investment management for large employers that offer retirement benefits, including pension closeouts and specialized life insurance products used to fund such benefit plans.
The company also services a number of long-term care insurance policies.
Sales and Marketing
Policies and other products are sold through a vast network of targeted marketing and sales forces, agency distribution groups, independent agents, affiliated broker-dealers, and direct marketing. In addition, MetLife sells some products through affinity groups and through employers.
The company’s revenues declined by 3% in 2012 (despite growth in premiums, universal life and investment-type product policy fees, and net investment income, and a decline in net investment losses) due to net derivative losses incurred and a decline in other revenues. The net derivative losses were caused by derivatives and hedging losses on hedged items in cash flow and non-qualifying hedging relationships, mainly driven by interest rate changes.
However, MetLife's net income slumped by 81% in 2012 due to lower revenues and higher expenses (the result of an increase in policyholder benefits and claims and policyholder dividends and interest credited to policyholder account balances, and higher goodwill impairment costs).
Going forward, MetLife plans to focus on insurance and employee benefits. It is exiting the bulk of its banking operations to avoid the increased scrutiny of banks under the Dodd-Frank financial regulations. The company is working to surrender its status as a bank-holding company. In 2013, the company sold its MetLife Bank depository operations to General Electric's finance division. Previously, MetLife Bank also offered residential mortgages, but in 2012 stopped writing both new mortgages and reverse mortgages. (In late 2012 it agreed to sell its approximately $70 billion mortgage-serving portfolio to JPMorgan Chase Bank for an undisclosed sum.) MetLife will retain the residential home loan portion of the business.
The company has pinned much of its growth efforts on emerging markets by increasing its already strong presence in the Asia/Pacific region and in Latin America through acquisitions and new product introductions. To support this growth, the company has organized its operations along geographic lines: The Americas; Europe, the Middle East and Africa; and Asia.
Some of the individual and group products MetLife sells overseas include life insurance, accident and health insurance, credit insurance, and annuities and retirement products. It has also created a global employee benefits business to reach into new markets.
To focus on core international businesses (including the Asian ALICO life insurance operations acquired in 2010), in 2011 MetLife sold off its older Japanese life insurance operations. The following year it agreed to sell off a handful of operations in the Caribbean, Panama, and Costa Rica; Pan-American Life Insurance happily agreed to snap them up in 2012. It also sold certain UK business lines that year. In 2014 MetLife agreed to sell its UK annuity business to Goldman Sachs Group company Rothesay Life Ltd. for $5 billion. The assurance covers benefits for more than 20,000 individuals in the UK and Ireland.
Mergers and Acquisitions
Expanding its presence in South America in 2013 MetLife agreed to acquire AFP Provida S.A. (a private pension fund administrator in Chile) from BBVA for $2 billion. The deal also includes a small asset management business in Ecuador.
The company targeted emerging markets in Eastern Europe when it agreed to acquire the Czech, Hungarian, and Romanian life insurance operations of Aviva in 2012.
Wilmington Trust Company owns 18% of the company.