The Fraternal Advantage
I recently celebrated my one-year anniversary with William Penn Association. Prior to joining WPA, I spent the majority of my career working for commercial insurance companies. Because of this, I am often asked to speak on the differences I have noticed between commercial insurance companies and fraternal insurance societies, such as WPA. I would like to share with you some of the observations that I have made since becoming a member.
There are three basic types of life insurance companies:
- stock companies, which are owned by stockholders;
- mutual companies, which are owned by policyholders; and
- fraternal benefit societies, which are organized and carried on solely for the mutual benefit of their members.
Fraternal benefit societies were developed in the mid to late 1800s as a way for people, many of them immigrants from Europe, to work and associate alongside others with similar ethnic, religious and cultural backgrounds. These non-profit organizations provided “mutual aid” to many individuals and families. This aid included benefits for death, disability and illness, but also involved a “lodge system” where their families could meet for various social and charitable events. These benefits continue to this day.
Did you know that, according to the American Fraternal Alliance, fraternal benefit societies raised over $17 million in the wake of the 9/11 attacks and more than $17 million following hurricane Katrina? The AFA also reports that volunteerism among fraternal benefit societies represents over 95 million hours per year, worth an estimated $1.6 billion, and a total of $410 million is spent annually on other fraternal benefits as well.
Each type of insurance company–stock, mutual and fraternal–offers life insurance and annuities to the general public. When a client purchases a policy or certificate from any of the three types of companies, they’re receiving something of value–a certain amount of insurance for a certain amount of premium, or a certain interest rate on a certain amount of deposit into an annuity.
But, do all types of insurance companies invite their clients to attend picnics, dinners, golf outings, baseball games or trips to foreign lands? Will stock or mutual companies provide benefits to your newborn, an orphaned child or a graduating high school senior? Do stock and mutual companies provide scholarships to qualifying members to help offset the cost of obtaining a post-secondary education? These are just a few of the benefits you’ll receive when purchasing your insurance or annuity from a fraternal benefit society, like WPA.
Shortly after joining WPA, my wife and I attended a picnic. A close friend was congratulating me on my new position and asked for what company I was now working. When I said it was William Penn Association, his sister turned to me and said, “Oh! You’re with that scholarship company!?” She then went on to explain that her mother had purchased “some kind of policy” that paid scholarships to her children and that WPA had, in fact, provided $2,000 for each of her four children to attend four years of college! That’s a total of $8,000 in scholarship grants paid to one member family.
I have to say that this made me feel good about my decision to join William Penn Association. I spent a great deal of my career with one of the largest insurance companies in the world that, despite their size, didn’t give anywhere near the number or amount of scholarships given annually by William Penn Association and other fraternal organizations. As a stock company, they were most concerned about shareholder value and returns to the stockholders, not their insured members.
This is a “fraternal advantage.” Let me tell you about another.
There was a young WPA member who had purchased a life insurance certificate and paid only one annual premium. Within nine months of purchasing his certificate, this young, healthy adult developed an aggressive form of cancer. Unfortunately, he became so sick that he was unable to keep his job, and the bills started to pile up. Mixed in with those bills was his annual premium notice from WPA.
After the young man passed away, his agent called our Home Office to report the death, only to be told that his coverage had lapsed due to non-payment of the premium. But, after checking into his certificate, we found that he indeed still had coverage due to what’s known as a “non-forfeiture clause” in his certificate, and we were able to pay the claim. This news obviously came as a huge relief to not only the agent but also to the grieving young widow.
As I mentioned at the beginning of this column, I have spent the majority of my career with commercial companies, both stock and mutual. In all those years, I never encountered a policy or certificate that extended coverage after only one annual premium had been paid. That is most definitely a fraternal advantage.
Have you ever tried getting through to a live person at one of the large commercial insurance companies? One of the things that continues to impress me most since joining WPA is the fact that we provide an 800 number for our clients and sales reps, and that phone is still answered by a live person who can help. Clients and agents alike can call the Home Office and talk with a representative from the sales, underwriting, billing, or claims teams and have their questions and concerns handled personally. This is a fraternal advantage, as well.
So, you can see there are many benefits and differences between commercial and fraternal companies. If you are reading this, you are probably already a WPA member and enjoying some of the fraternal benefits that being a member provides.
But, what about your friends and family? Did you know that you can earn a referral fee by recommending William Penn Association to your friends and relatives? We pay thousands of dollars each year to hundreds of members who recommend new members to WPA. See the back cover of this magazine for details on this exciting program, or call your local WPA agent. Don’t have an agent? Call the Home Office and one will be assigned to you. Or, simply complete that Recommender form and send it to the Home Office. We’ll take it from there. We’re here to offer The Fraternal Advantage!