Among the mega-companies in life insurance, New York Life Insurance holds a seat at the table, both nationally in the U.S. as well as globally. The company manages almost $290 billion in assets plus $15 billion as a company-specific surplus. This financial strength as well operation puts New York Life at rank 71 in the Fortune 500 and well inside the top 100 companies. It also means that New York Life is the highest ranked privately-held business in the U.S. as well.
Given the above performance, New York Life is one of a trio of insurance companies that are able to hold and enjoy the reputation of being ranked superior in financial strength rating from Moodys, AM Best and Standard & Poor.
Originally started in 1845 as a shipping insurance company for nautical risk, New York Life Insurance Company was renamed to its familiar moniker four years later. From the same beginning, the company has operated from day one out of New York City. It was also one of the few companies that anticipate the 2008 economic crisis and positioned itself and its assets into cash and government bonds to avoid loss on the open market. By August 2007, the company's collective premonition had begun to come true. The following year the company was so financially strong it was able to reject participating in the government's bailout program which would have allowed the federal regulators to run New York Life as they did other banks and investment houses taking TARP funds.
Instead, because it had the means and financial assets under its own control to do so, New York Life took advantage of the 2008 financial crisis and launched one of its best marketing message campaigns, using the company's wisdom to show customers how well New York Life protected its own interests when other financial institutions acted foolhardy. Today, in 2012, the same marketing campaign can still be seen in television commercials as well as magazine advertising, particular in markets where financial solvency and reputation matter greatly in winning over customers.