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 over 50 other countries.
While the US remains its largest market, international sales account for about 35% of MetLife's revenues. 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.
The company's 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; however, it stopped active sales of the policies in 2010 due to low profitability in the market. MetLife Bank, the company's banking segment, offers residential home loans, but it is exiting most of its other banking operations.
Sales & 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.
MetLife has bounced back from the investment losses it suffered during the recession. And, it has bounced higher than before, thanks to acquisitions. Efforts to expand its international business paid off significantly in 2011: its international revenues nearly tripled in one year. Overall, MetLife's total annual revenues increased by 33% to some $70 billion in 2011, and net income jumped 150% to about $7 billion.
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.
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.
Mergers and Acquisitions
The company targeted emerging markets in Eastern Europe when it agreed to acquire the Czech, Hungarian, and Romanian life insurance operations of Aviva in early 2012.
MetLife's biggest splash into international waters was its 2010 purchase of American Life Insurance Company (ALICO) from American International Group (AIG) in a deal worth more than $16 billion. The US-based company provides life insurance in Asia and other developing markets -- Japan is its largest market. That last half of the deal gave AIG a 20% stake in MetLife until it sold that equity in 2011.