The number of life insurance companies in the United States has fallen from a high of 2,343 in 1988 to 1,179 in 2004; roughly a 50% drop, according to the American Council of Life Insurers.
The major cause for this diminution of life insurance companies has been consolidation within the industry. Just within the past couple of years, we have seen several of our partner life insurance companies merge with other companies. The most notable occurred this year with the acquisition of Chase Life & Annuity Company by Protective Life Insurance Company. Upon this acquisition, Protective Life combined three of its subsidiary companies (West Coast Life, Empire General Life, and Chase Life & Annuity) into one. The resulting company, West Coast Life, now has the advantage of the best practices from each company. This enables the company to be more competitive in the marketplace.
This trend is most likely to continue as life insurance companies seek ways to grow and become more competitive at the same time.