The top dogs of Texas's Medicare Supplement market are getting a run for their money. Two competitive carriers have entered the stage, and are clawing to the top in most Texas zip codes. Cigna, insured by American Retirement Life Insurance Company, and Manhattan Life have been catching the eyes of Texas agents and consumers of late. With low premiums and speedy processing, it's no wonder that these two carriers are succeeding in drawing massive amounts of new business and notoriety so quickly.
American Retirement Life Insurance Company, a subsidiary of Cigna, began selling Medicare Supplements in Texas early February of 2013. In the past year, ARLIC has delivered highly competitive rates – improving the Texas Medicare Supplement landscape drastically. Prior to the Cigna brand, only three carriers could actually offer the lowest premiums: Omaha Insurance, Oxford Life, and Continental Life (Aetna). These carriers each have their own zip codes that they pursue competitively. Your chances of getting more than 1 or 2 "good" rates in each zip code were low a year ago. You either got Omaha, Oxford, or Continental, alongside one of the less-competitive brands. It was slim pickins.
Now that Cigna has been added to the mix, consumers are finding better rates, as well as more options for selecting a quality carrier.
Cigna also offers a quick and easy application process, as does Manhattan Life. Via an electronic application, agents are able to submit new business and save their clients money effortlessly. New business is typically issued anywhere from 3 days to 2 weeks (they boast policy issues of 3-5 days). Of course, this is also dependent on the time of year the application is being submitted – Open Enrollment months are busier, inevitably.
Due to their inexpensive rates, Cigna has seen a boom in demand. They are quickly hiring more staff to keep up with the demand for their product. This growth in their company within the first year of business is extraordinary, and can only mean success. If you are a consumer, and are worried about the financial outlook of this company, this should reassure you that ARLIC's low rates and the Cigna brand are here to stay.
Located in Austin, Texas, ARLIC's rates are highly competitive for residents of Travis county and surrounding areas. There are also a few other "hot" areas, such as zip codes in and around North Texas. If you are a Medicare Supplement policyholder living in one of these areas, it may be time to call an agent and have your current policy reviewed.
ARLIC offers plans A, F, G, and N– which are also available in 18 other states. You can check availability at ARLIC's website.
A more recent addition to the Texas Medicare Supplement market is Manhattan Life. A few months ago, Manhattan Life did not sell in Texas. I was completely unaware of this company, to be frank. Then, slowly, I began to see their name pop up on my quote engine– and now when I search Texas zip codes, Manhattan Life is definitely top 5 in most areas, even top 2 in some. I suspect this will change (for the better) as they grow in the next year.
Similar to Cigna, Manhattan Life is a reputable and financially sound carrier, which is part of a larger family; Central United Life, Western United Life, and Family Life are all close relatives, and trusted brands in the industry.
Along with Texas, Manhattan Life offers Medigap plans in AZ, GA, IL, IN, MI, MS, NC, NE, PA, SC, TN, TX, and VA. The plans available for purchase include A, B, C, D, F, G, M, and N, offering more breadth than ARLIC (although not all are offered in each state).
Both Cigna and Manhattan Life are leading in many areas around Texas. While Cigna is still number one out of the two, I suspect Manhattan Life to target more specific niches if it has not already done so. I also expect both companies to evolve in the next few years– whether this means steadying their rates and focusing on specific areas or sometimes in Manhattan Life's case, pushing Cigna out of the top spot; only time will tell.
A few consumers have expressed concerns about purchasing a policy from a new carrier and then having the carrier pull a "bait and switch" by spiking the rates and leaving their clients stuck with large premiums. While I will not guarantee anything, I do not think that would be a smart technique for either company. Remember, even though their rates are low, they are still competitive with powerhouses who have been selling in Texas for years. It will take them 5-10 years to gain a solid reputation amidst domineering competition.
Luckily for consumers, the emergence of these new products is only pushing rates to be more competitive. If you have never considered having your policy reviewed, now is the perfect time to call an agent as carriers are fighting for your business more than ever.