On August 18, 2021, one of Massachusetts’ oldest insurers, the Boston Mutual Life Insurance Company celebrated its 130th anniversary. Founded in 1891, the company opened its first office at 17 Milk Street, the birthplace of another important member of the insurance industry, Benjamin Franklin. Since many companies never make it to their 130th anniversary, Agency Checklists thought it would be interesting to query the company about what has made Boston Mutual so resilient and successful over its long and varied history.
As such, we emailed the following questions to Paul A. Quaranto, Jr., Chairman, Chief Executive Officer and President at Boston Mutual Life Insurance Company, who is only the insurer’s seventh president. Here is what he had to say:
Congratulations on Boston Mutual celebrating its 130th anniversary. What a long and interesting history your company has, including ties to Boston’s own Benjamin Franklin. Could you share with our readers a brief history of how Boston Mutual came to be?
Thank you. We are honored to be recognizing this milestone. Boston Mutual Life Insurance Company was founded in 1891 in one of America’s most historic cities. As you noted, our first office was in the same location as Benjamin Franklin’s birthplace.
Our mission has remained the same for 130 years – to afford working Americans and their families the opportunity to secure some financial peace of mind. Over the last 130 years, we have moved, grown and expanded our ability to provide insurance products and services to the entire nation.
What do you think has been the secret to Boston Mutual’s success in staying a viable business for so long?
We operate under the same philosophy today as when we were first founded – which is to act in the best interests of those who rely on us – our policyholders, producers, employees, and the communities in which we live and serve.
I am grateful for all those who are and have been a part of our legacy. Boston Mutual has evolved to best serve working Americans and their families while staying true to our mission and core values. I am incredibly proud of the fact that we have been able to deliver on our promises for 130 years, and that we are well positioned – strategically, operationally and financially – to do so for many years to come.
Family Matters. No Matter What. This is our brand and we strive to live it in everything we do – every day – with all those who rely on us. Our Making An Impact program offers us one way to live our brand by giving back to the communities in which we live and serve.
As only the seventh president in the company’s 130-year history, how has this stability in leadership benefited Boston Mutual?
Thank you for that insightful question. Having only seven presidents has allowed us to be thoughtful and strategic with our long-term objectives. In business, good ideas and plans take a while to develop, implement and mature. Many say that success doesn’t come overnight, and there’s some truth to that. By having stable and consistent leadership over the years, we have been able to evolve and move forward on our strategic path.
What else do you think makes Boston Mutual special and a place with such high employee retention?
Having worked at Boston Mutual for so long – 31 years – and worked with so many great people across the company, I would have to say it is our sense of community. We talk about it a lot when describing what makes the company unique, and it may sound folksy, but being there for each other is as important as being there for our customers. It really is at the root of who we are.
We also invest in our employees – creating a positive and flexible work environment focused on employee engagement, development and opportunities for growth.
These past 18 months has changed many lives forever. How has the life insurance industry in general changed because of the pandemic?
The pandemic certainly increased awareness of the life insurance industry and the good work the industry does to deliver on its promises, as well as providing jobs and investing in our economy and communities. The financial strength of the industry has been validated once again over the last 18 months.
There has also been a heightened awareness of the need for our products. The challenge is to understand what customers are looking for today in terms of products and the customer experience. The industry has been in a state of change for some time and the pandemic has only served to increase the pace of change that will be required to remain relevant in the markets we serve. I believe that Boston Mutual and the industry is doing a good job in this regard.
How has Boston Mutual responded to the COVID-19 Public Health Crisis?
Most importantly, we have been able to deliver on our promises to our customers during these difficult times. I am incredibly proud of our employees in doing so – it speaks volumes to who we are.
At the outset, we prioritized the health and safety of our employees, producers and policyholders above all else. Our company quickly pivoted to a high percentage of remote staff and have continued to conduct mostly virtual business operations since the spring of 2020. Our newly launched Enterprise Project Management Office (EPMO) and Innovation Lab teams in our Innovation, Projects & Technology department were involved in a number of critical projects right at the beginning, including assisting with business continuity plans related to the pandemic – enabling us to continue to maintain business operations and serve our customers. We continue to closely monitor guidance from the CDC as the pandemic evolves and continue to keep our employees’ well-being at the forefront of our decisions.
Have you seen a new interest in life insurance and your other products as a result of the pandemic?
In general, the industry has seen the desire for life insurance rise as a result of the pandemic. Customers are more likely to buy life insurance during this time and are looking for a valued and long-standing provider. While the past year and a half may have had an impact on how our products (including life insurance, accident insurance, and critical illness insurance) may be offered in the workplace setting – with a shift to more remote and hybrid settings – we still see a heightened interest in the value of what they can offer our policyholders. In fact, many are understanding that value now more than ever before.
How does Boston Mutual market its products?
We offer our products through two main sales channels – our independent agent network that meets and consults with individual customers, and our employer-focused sales area, Workplace Solutions, which works through brokers to design benefit packages and support the sale and enrollment to their policyholders’ employees.
What are the product areas where you believe Boston Mutual provides a superior product for insureds?
We are first and foremost a life insurance company offering a whole life insurance product that allows working men and women to have financial peace of mind for their families and their future. A new opportunity we recently introduced at Boston Mutual to select local producer partners in Massachusetts and Rhode Island is the Small Business Solutions program. This is a first-of-its-kind program from Boston Mutual designed specifically for small businesses in those states. The purpose is to offer small businesses a turnkey portfolio of options to help meet their and their employees’ needs. The program features streamlined, standard insurance portfolio options through key strategic enrollment partner firms.
What, if any, opportunities does Boston Mutual offer for independent insurance agencies that read Agency Checklists?
In addition to a great product portfolio designed for working Americans, we pride ourselves on personalized service and building relationships with our agents so we can collectively be there for our customers.
How do [you] envision the life insurance industry changing or evolving going forward. How is technology playing a role in helping to realize the future of life insurance?
The life insurance industry continues to evolve – it’s not as stagnant as many people may think. Innovation is enabling life insurance companies to run more efficiently, and in turn, provide a better customer experience than ever before. Strategic long-term planning and a focus on continuing to evolve to meet the needs of today’s customer is key for a strong path forward. I believe there should be a balance with people, process, and technology – by investing in your people, you can then leverage opportunities with the latter two.
Going forward, what is your opinion about the future of the life insurance industry and Boston Mutual? Do you see a greater integration between personal and life insurance or between the financial sector in the future?
If the past year has showed us anything, it is how unpredictable life can be and the importance of making sure we are taking care of our loved ones during good times and bad. I do believe there is a strong connection between life insurance and personal long term financial planning – there is a great value to the financial security that it can provide not just for the individual but for their partners, children, even grandchildren.
Any other thoughts about or items our reader should know?
Many policyholders may not realize the impact that the life insurance industry provides, and as industry professionals it is key to help educate customers on the good work that is being done across our industry. In fact, I recently shared through the American Council of Life Insurers (ACLI), the national life insurance trade association, the impact of the industry in Massachusetts as part of their national education effort to share insights from insurance company presidents in different states. Beyond providing insurance solutions for policyholders, the industry also makes investments in assets that ensure carriers can deliver on their promises, plus offering much more – such as jobs, by employing more than 72,000 people in Massachusetts.