Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of May 3, 2004
Insurance puts fraternal order at $1 billion mark
Alberta's economy allows investment in insurance
By RAMON GONZALEZ
WCR Staff Writer
The Knights of Columbus is more than just a fraternal order for Catholic men. It is also one of the top insurance companies in North America.
It currently has over $50 billion of life insurance in force in the United States and Canada with Alberta being the top agency with $1 billion of insurance in force.
"We are our own insurance company. Many people are surprised to hear that but we actually rank in the top 75 companies in all of North America when measured in terms of assets and insurance in force, " said Thomas Smith. He is the chief marketing officer for the Knights of Columbus, a position that puts him in charge of the Knights of Columbus insurance operation throughout North America. The order has its headquarters in a 23-storey building in New Haven, Conn., the place where Father Michael McGivney founded it in 1882.
Smith was in Edmonton to address the Knights annual convention and banquet at the Mayfield Inn April 23-25.
With $50 billion worth of insurance coverage, the Knights are not even touching half of their total membership of 1.6 million, Smith said.
"Out of the 1.6 million members we have about 550,000 who have insurance with us. There are about a million members of the Knights of Columbus today who have no insurance with us. So we have tremendous potential."
In Alberta there are 15,000 members and probably 7,000 of them have life insurance with the Knights.
The Knights sell life insurance to members, the wives of members and dependent children of members. They also sell retirement annuities and long term-care annuities.
The company has been breaking records for the past three years, but 2003 was the best year it has ever had. "Altogether last year the Knights of Columbus issued $5.2 billion worth of coverage," Smith said. "And that's just life insurance."
The most productive agency in the order was Alberta, which last year set a new record for a single agency by placing $180 million worth of life insurance.
Selling insurance is the only way the K of C can sustain itself as an organization, Smith said. The order only receives about $4 million a year directly from its members. It is revenue from the insurance program that enables the Knights to promote and support many charitable causes.
Father McGivney, who was a parish priest from New Haven, founded the Knights in answer to the distress that he found in the widows and orphans of his day. At that time when the father or the husband died, the wives and children were left with nothing and they would often turn to their parish priest for help.
In an inspired moment, McGivney decided in 1882 to set up an organization that would provide care for widows and orphans of deceased members.
"So the idea of providing life insurance for protection for our members and families has been there really from the day the order was founded," Smith explained.
The main reason the Alberta Knights have been able to sell $1 billion worth of life insurance coverage with a membership of 15,000 members is that the province's economy allows people to invest in insurance, Smith said.
"Who better to buy life insurance from than a brother knight? Smith asked. "The company is highly rated, is conservative and is safe. We have been here for 122 years. Our prices are competitive but more than all that, it is comforting to be able to do business with an organization that uses your premium dollars to support charitable causes."
By selling insurance the Knights are fulfilling McGivney's vision every Knights of Columbus widow would have comfort in time of need, Smith said.