MassMutual offers free
life insurance for working parents
$50,000 policies offered for free to benefit children
By Jonathan D. Epstein, NEWS BUSINESS REPORTER
Saturday, July 19, 2008
Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Co. is offering free $50,000
life insurance policies for 10 years to benefit the children of
low-income working consumers in
The offer is part of a nationwide $1 billion initiative.
The company’s program, known as LifeBridge, is designed to
provide some financial protection for working parents and pay
for the education of their children should something happen to
It’s also designed to promote the company’s national
philanthropic focus on education, while helping Mass-Mutual
create goodwill among communities and potential customers.
“We realized several years ago that there were a lot of folks
who don’t buy our products, either because they can’t afford
them or think they can’t afford them,” said Cindie St. George,
director of LifeBridge.
“Here you have working individuals who could benefit from the
protection that life insurance offers. So we, as a
corporation, decided to figure out a way to give it away.”
Under LifeBridge, MassMutual provides 10-year term life
insurance policies at no cost to qualifying working consumers.
The insurer absorbs the premiums, and the agents who take
applications get no commissions.
And the company promises there will be no extra pitch to listen
to. “They’re not going to be asking anyone to purchase
more insurance. It’s not a sales opportunity,” St. George
said. “It’s completely free to the parent and their
“This is one of the few things that brings our entire
organization together to support one charity and one community,”
said Joseph L. DiLeo, general agent of The Buffalo Agency,
MassMutual’s local group with 60 full-time agents. “It’s a
great giving-back-to- the-community program. No strings
To qualify, a consumer must have a child under the age of 18
when they apply, and the child or children must be designated as
the beneficiary. Parents can be married or single, but the
total family income must fall between $10,000 and $40,000.
If a parent dies during the 10-year term, MassMutual will set up
a trust and put the money in it for any of the child’s
educational needs, ranging from private school and high school
through college or technical schools. However, only one
$50,000 policy will be provided per family, so if there’s more
than one child, benefits would be split in multiple trusts.
A MassMutual subsidiary would administer the trust, which will
accrue interest over time. MassMutual absorbs all trust
fees, and makes any payments directly to the educational
institution based on invoices submitted to the trust company.
The children have until age 35 to use all of the money. If
they don’t, they can divert remaining money to other children in
the family. If the money still isn’t used up, it will go
toward an educational scholarship fund designated in advance by
the parents from among five choices selected by MassMutual.
To apply, contact the company’s local agency. So far, only five
claims have been paid out nationwide — including to a family in Buffalo that could not be reached to comment.
LifeBridge was first introduced in the fall of 2002 in
Connecticut, New Jersey
and North Carolina,
and was rolled out to the rest of the country over the next few
Since then, the company has issued 8,700 free policies worth
$435 million — including 1,323 in
state for $66 million, and 44 policies in Buffalo Niagara for
That’s nearly halfway to the its national goal of giving away
20,000 policies totaling $1 billion by December 2009.
The coverage has been available since 2002 through the company’s
local agencies, but MassMutual hadn’t been aggressively pushing
the program until recently.
MassMutual will be meeting local leaders in Buffalo on Wednesday, but has not yet
scheduled an event to promote the program. It has secured the
endorsement of Buffalo Mayor Byron W. Brown, however.