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UNITED STATES SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION
Washington, D. C. 20549
  
FORM 10-K

(Mark one)
ANNUAL REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934
For the fiscal year ended December 31, 2019.
or
TRANSITION REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934
For the transition period from ____________________ to _______________________
 
Commission File Number: 1-11917
402989584_ffglogoa04.jpg
FBL FINANCIAL GROUP, INC.
(Exact name of registrant as specified in its charter)
 
 
Iowa
42-1411715
(State or other jurisdiction of incorporation or organization)
(I.R.S. Employer Identification No.)
 
 
 
 
 
 
5400 University Avenue,
West Des Moines,
Iowa
50266-5997
(Address of principal executive offices)
(Zip Code)
 
 
 
 
 
 
(515)
225-5400
 
 
(Registrant’s telephone number, including area code)

Securities registered pursuant to Section 12(b) of the Act:
Title of each class
Trading Symbol(s)
Name of each exchange on which registered
Class A common stock, without par value
FFG
New York Stock Exchange
 
Securities registered pursuant to Section 12(g) of the Act: None
 
Indicate by check mark if the registrant is a well-known seasoned issuer, as defined in Rule 405 of the Securities Act. Yes No
 
Indicate by check mark if the registrant is not required to file reports pursuant to Section 13 or Section 15(d) of the Act. Yes No
 
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant (1) has filed all reports required to be filed by Section 13 or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the registrant was required to file such reports), and (2) has been subject to such filing requirements for the past 90 days. Yes No
 
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant has submitted electronically every Interactive Data File required to be submitted pursuant to Rule 405 of Regulation S-T (§232.405 of this chapter) during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the registrant was required to submit such files). Yes No
  
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a large accelerated filer, an accelerated filer, a non-accelerated filer, a smaller reporting company, or an emerging growth company. See the definitions of “large accelerated filer,” “accelerated filer,” “smaller reporting company,” and “emerging growth company” in Rule 12b-2 of the Exchange Act.
 
Large accelerated filer Accelerated filer Non-accelerated filer Smaller reporting company Emerging growth company
 
If an emerging growth company, indicate by check mark if the registrant has elected not to use the extended transition period for complying with any new or revised financial accounting standards provided pursuant to Section 13(a) of the Exchange Act.
 
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a shell company (as defined in Rule 12b-2 of the Exchange Act). Yes No
 
As of June 30, 2019, the aggregate market value of the registrant’s Class A Common Stock and Class B Common Stock held by non-affiliates of the registrant was $614,892,725 based on the closing sale price as reported on the New York Stock Exchange.
Indicate the number of shares outstanding of each of the registrant’s classes of common stock, as of the latest practicable date:
 Title of each class
 
Outstanding at February 24, 2020
Class A Common Stock, without par value
 
24,655,302
Class B Common Stock, without par value
 
11,413
DOCUMENTS INCORPORATED BY REFERENCE
Document
 
Parts Into Which Incorporated
Portions of the definitive proxy statement for annual shareholders meeting to be held on May 14, 2020
 
Part III




























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FBL FINANCIAL GROUP, INC.
FORM 10-K FOR THE YEAR ENDED DECEMBER 31, 2019
TABLE OF CONTENTS
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 






















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Table of Contents

Cautionary Statement Regarding Forward Looking Information

This Form 10-K includes statements relating to anticipated financial performance, business prospects, new products and similar matters. These statements and others, which include words such as “expect,” “anticipate,” “believe,” “intend” and other similar expressions, constitute forward-looking statements under the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. A variety of factors could cause our actual results and experiences to differ materially from the anticipated results or other expectations expressed in our forward-looking statements. These forward-looking statements are based on assumptions that we believe to be reasonable; however, no assurance can be given that the assumptions will prove to be correct. We undertake no obligation to update any forward-looking statements. The risks and uncertainties that may affect the operations, performance, development and results of our business include but are not limited to the following.

Changing interest rates, market volatility and general economic conditions affect the risks and the returns on both our products and our investment portfolio.
Difficult conditions in the financial markets and the economy may materially adversely affect our business and results of operations.
Adverse financial market conditions may significantly affect our liquidity, access to capital and cost of capital.
Our valuation of fixed maturity securities may include methodologies, estimations and assumptions that are subject to differing interpretations and could result in changes to investment valuations that may materially adversely affect our results of operations or financial condition.
Our investment portfolio is subject to credit quality risks that may diminish the value of our invested assets and affect our profitability and reported book value per share.
We face competition from companies having greater financial resources, more advanced technology systems, broader arrays of products, higher ratings and stronger financial performance, which may impair our ability to retain existing customers, attract new customers and maintain our profitability and financial strength.
As a holding company, we depend on our subsidiaries for funds to meet our obligations, but our life insurance subsidiaries’ ability to make distributions to us is limited by law, and could be affected by minimum risk-based capital requirements.
A significant ratings downgrade may have a material adverse effect on our business.
Cyber attacks, system security risks, data protection breaches and other technology failures could adversely affect our business and results of operations.
Success of our business depends in part on effective information technology systems and on continuing to develop and implement improvements.
All segments of our business are highly regulated and these regulations or changes in them could affect our profitability.
A significant change in accounting guidance could have a material effect on our financial condition or results of operations.
Actual experience that differs from our assumptions regarding future persistency, mortality, interest rates and benefit utilization used in pricing our products and calculating reserve amounts and deferred acquisition costs could have a material adverse impact on our financial results.
Actual experience that differs from assumptions may require us to accelerate the amortization of deferred acquisition costs, which could adversely affect our results of operations or financial condition.
Our earnings are influenced by our claims experience, which is difficult to estimate for future periods. If our future claims experience does not match our pricing assumptions or past results, our earnings could be materially adversely affected.
Our reinsurance program involves risks because we remain liable with respect to the liabilities ceded to reinsurers if the reinsurers fail to meet the obligations assumed by them.
Our business is highly dependent on our relationships with Farm Bureau organizations and could be adversely affected if those relationships became impaired.
Our relationship with Farm Bureau organizations could result in conflicts of interests.
Changes in federal tax laws may affect sales of our products and profitability.
Our ability to maintain competitive costs is dependent upon the level of new sales and persistency of existing business.
If we are unable to attract and retain agents, sales of our products and services may be reduced.
Attracting and retaining employees who are key to our business is critical to our growth and success.
We face risks relating to litigation, including the costs of such litigation, management distraction and the potential for damage awards, which may adversely impact our business.

See Part 1A, Risk Factors, for additional information.


1

Table of Contents

PART I

ITEM 1. BUSINESS

General

FBL Financial Group, Inc. (we or the Company), majority owned by the Iowa Farm Bureau Federation (IFBF), sells individual life insurance and annuity products principally under the consumer brand name Farm Bureau Financial Services. This brand identity is represented by the distribution channel of our subsidiary Farm Bureau Life Insurance Company (Farm Bureau Life). In addition, in the state of Colorado, we offer life and annuity products through Greenfields Life Insurance Company (Greenfields Life). As of December 31, 2019, these distribution channels consisted of 1,858 exclusive agents and agency managers, who sell our products in the Midwestern and Western sections of the United States. Helping complete the financial services offering, advisors offer wealth management and financial planning services.

The Company was incorporated in Iowa in October 1993. Its life insurance subsidiary, Farm Bureau Life, began operations in 1945 and Greenfields Life, a subsidiary of Farm Bureau Life, was launched in 2013. FBL Wealth Management, LLC began operations in 2019. Other subsidiaries provide support services to our affiliated companies. In addition, we manage all aspects of two Farm Bureau affiliated property-casualty insurance companies (Farm Bureau Property & Casualty Insurance Company and Western Agricultural Insurance Company), which operate predominately in eight states in the Midwest and West.

FBL Financial Group, Inc. Business and Distribution Channels
FBL Financial Group, Inc.
COMPANY
Farm Bureau Life
Insurance Company
 
Greenfields Life
  Insurance Company
 
FBL Wealth Management, LLC
RELATIONSHIP
Wholly-owned subsidiary
 
Subsidiary of
Farm Bureau Life
(Wholly-owned)
 
Wholly-owned subsidiary
BRAND402989584_greenfieldslifeinsco2a05.jpg
402989584_fbfshs4a05.jpg
 
402989584_greenfieldslifeinsco2a05.jpg
 
402989584_fbwmhorizontal.jpg
DISTRIBUTION
1,846 exclusive
Farm Bureau Financial Services agents and agency managers
 
12 exclusive agents and
agency managers
 
23 wealth management advisors, 56 agent financial advisors, 1,011 agent registered representatives
PRODUCTS
A comprehensive line of life insurance, annuity and investment products
 
A comprehensive line of life insurance, annuity and investment products
 
Wealth management services and a comprehensive suite of investment solutions
TERRITORY
14 Midwestern and
 Western states
 
Colorado
 
14 Midwestern and
 Western states

In addition to the distribution above, FBL Financial Group manages two property casualty insurance companies: Farm Bureau Property & Casualty Insurance Company and Western Agricultural Insurance Company. Underwriting results of these two companies do not impact FBL Financial Group’s results. These property casualty companies distribute a full line of personal and commercial property-casualty insurance products through 1,197 exclusive Farm Bureau Financial Services agents and agency managers (included under the 1,846 Farm Bureau Life agents) in Arizona, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Nebraska, New Mexico, South Dakota and Utah.

Investor information, including electronic versions of periodic reports filed on Forms 10-K, 10-Q and 8-K, and proxy material, are available free of charge through the Investor Relations section of our website at www.fblfinancial.com. These documents are posted to our website immediately after they are filed. The EDGAR filings of such reports are also available at the SEC’s website, www.sec.gov. Also available on our website are many corporate governance documents including codes of ethics, board committee charters, corporate governance guidelines, director profiles and more. Product information may be found on our consumer websites, www.fbfs.com and www.greenfieldslife.com.

2

Table of Contents

Business Strategy

Our core business strategies leverage areas where we have competitive advantages. Our exclusive agent distribution channel enables deep customer engagement and long-term customer relationships. We benefit from close ties to the unique needs of the agricultural market and affinity with the Farm Bureau brand, and our cross-sell culture results in industry leading cross-sell rates.

Our agents sell property-casualty, life insurance and investment products. Having multi-line agents enhances our ability to develop a more comprehensive relationship with our customers and increases our ability to cross-sell our life insurance, annuity products and wealth management services to the pool of Farm Bureau property-casualty customers.

Our multi-line exclusive agent distribution channel is our foundation and we are defined by our service to the Farm Bureau niche marketplace. We capitalize on the Farm Bureau brand to grow our business and build upon our agricultural and rural market leadership. We focus on consistently improving customer experience and needs-based selling, including a branded review program called SuperCheck. This review program is a free service that helps our customers identify gaps in their insurance coverages and financial needs. We have a broad portfolio of life insurance, annuity and wealth management products so that we have products available to satisfy the needs of our agents and customers.

Because of their multi-line nature, our agents focus on cross-selling life insurance products to customers who already own a property-casualty policy issued by our property-casualty company partners. For example, in the eight-state region where we manage the affiliated property-casualty insurance companies and related field force (Arizona, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Nebraska, New Mexico, South Dakota and Utah), 24% of Farm Bureau Financial Services property-casualty policyholders also own a Farm Bureau Life annuity or life product. We are considered among the best-in-industry in cross-sell rates. This percentage is and has historically been higher than the industry average for multi-line exclusive agents, which is 12% according to the most recent research by the Life Insurance and Market Research Association (LIMRA). We believe there is further opportunity for growth from cross-selling as 71% of Farm Bureau members in the eight-state region have a Farm Bureau Financial Services property-casualty insurance product, while only 21% of Farm Bureau members in the eight-state region have a life insurance product with us.

We provide our agents with marketing and sales materials, training and a high level of field management and sales support. Additionally, the field sales support team includes Life Sales Advisors and Regional Financial Consultants who work as a resource to help agents with life and annuity sales.

Our sales model is designed so that our agents are entrepreneurial business owners with a retail financial services business. Under this model, our agents have sales and service associates who assist them and provide a variety of support for insurance sales and client/members.

This business strategy and sales model results in deep customer engagement and long-term customer relationships. Our agents are often viewed as the go-to person for all the insurance needs of their customers. As a result, while we underwrite the majority of the life and annuity products available for sale by our agents, we broker products sold by other carriers when we do not have the expertise, ratings or scale to compete efficiently in the marketplace. Examples of brokered products include long-term care insurance, health insurance and last survivor life policies. We earn fees from the sale of brokered products, a portion of which is passed on to the agents as commissions for the underlying sales.

In 2018 we began investing in a wealth management strategy which allows us to offer an open architecture mutual fund platform and fee based financial planning. Prior to that time, we had a limited number of agents who were Investment Advisor Representatives (IARs) and offered fee-based financial planning. We have expanded the advisory services offered by our IARs and added a new role known as the Farm Bureau wealth management advisor. These wealth management advisors have the unique opportunity to partner with our Farm Bureau Financial Services agents for referrals to serve our existing client/members with financial advisory services. Our wealth management services allow our agents to add more value, enhance the customer experience and further strengthen the agent/customer relationship. As of December 31, 2019, we had 23 Farm Bureau wealth management advisors appointed. We intend to continue to add Farm Bureau wealth management advisors who fit our culture and service orientation. We expect that this will ultimately add a diversified earnings stream to FBL Financial Group given the fee-based nature of wealth management. This is a long-term strategy that we expect to invest in and grow over time.


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Marketing and Distribution

Market Area

Sales through our distribution channels are currently conducted in 15 states, which we characterize as follows: multi-line states (we own the Farm Bureau affiliated life company and manage the Farm Bureau affiliated property-casualty companies) - Arizona, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Nebraska, New Mexico, South Dakota and Utah; and life partner states (we own the Farm Bureau affiliated life company but non-owned/non-managed Farm Bureau affiliated property-casualty companies manage the exclusive multi-line agents) - Colorado, Idaho, Montana, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Wisconsin and Wyoming.

Our target market is Farm Bureau members and “Middle America.” We traditionally have been very strong in rural and small town markets and also have a presence in small and mid-metro markets. This target market represents a relatively financially conservative and stable customer base. The financial needs of our target market tend to focus on security, insurance needs and retirement savings.

Affiliation with Farm Bureau Organizations

Many of our customers are members of Farm Bureau organizations affiliated with the American Farm Bureau Federation (American Farm Bureau). The American Farm Bureau is the nation’s largest grassroots farm and ranch organization and has a current membership of 5.9 million member families. In order to market insurance products in a given state using the “Farm Bureau” and “FB” designations, related trademarks and service marks, a company must have an agreement with the state’s Farm Bureau organization. Generally, these marketing rights have only been granted to companies owned by or closely affiliated with Farm Bureau organizations. For each of the states in our Farm Bureau marketing territory, which excludes Colorado, we have the right to use the “Farm Bureau” name and “FB” logo for marketing life insurance and investment products. There are approximately 710,000 member families in the states where we have rights to use the Farm Bureau name, brand and logo.

All of the state Farm Bureau organizations in our marketing area are associated with the American Farm Bureau. The primary goal of the American Farm Bureau is to be the unified national voice of agriculture, working through its grassroots organization to enhance and strengthen the lives of rural Americans and to build strong, prosperous agricultural communities. There are currently Farm Bureau organizations in all 50 states and Puerto Rico, each with their own distinctive mission and goals. Within each state, Farm Bureau is organized at the county level. Farm Bureau programs may include policy development, government relations activities, leadership development and training, communications outreach and training, market education, commodity conferences and young farmer activities. Member services provided by Farm Bureau vary by state but often include programs such as risk management, alternative energy development, farm transition workshops, rural entrepreneurial seminars, scholarships and grants and guidance on enhancing profitability. Other benefits of membership include newspaper and magazine subscriptions, as well as savings in areas such as health care, travel, entertainment, farm equipment and automobile rebates. In addition, members have access to accidental death insurance, banking services, computerized farm accounting services, electronic information networks, health care insurance or benefit plans, property-casualty insurance and financial services.

The American Farm Bureau may terminate our right to use the “Farm Bureau” and “FB” designations in our states (i) in the event of a material breach of the trademark license that we do not cure within 60 days, (ii) immediately in the event of termination by the American Farm Bureau of the state Farm Bureau’s membership in the American Farm Bureau or (iii) in the event of a material breach of the state Farm Bureau organization’s membership agreement with the American Farm Bureau, including by reason of the failure of the state Farm Bureau to cause us to adhere to the American Farm Bureau’s policies.

We have royalty agreements with each state Farm Bureau organization in our Farm Bureau marketing territory giving us the right to use the Farm Bureau and FB designations in that particular state. Each state Farm Bureau organization in our Farm Bureau territory could terminate our right to use the Farm Bureau designations in that particular state without cause at the conclusion of the royalty agreements. The royalties paid to a particular state Farm Bureau organization are based on the sale of our products in the respective state. For 2019, royalty expense totaled approximately $2.3 million.

Our relationship with Farm Bureau organizations provides a number of advantages. Farm Bureau organizations in our marketing territory tend to be well known and long established, have active memberships and provide a number of member benefits other than financial services. The strength of these organizations provides enhanced prestige and brand awareness for our products and increased access to Farm Bureau members, which results in a competitive advantage for us.


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Our life insurance and investment products are available for sale to both Farm Bureau members and non-members. Property-casualty products sold by the property-casualty insurance companies affiliated with Farm Bureau are available for sale to Farm Bureau members. Annual Farm Bureau memberships in our marketing territory average $63 and are available to individuals, families, partnerships and corporations.

We have service agreements with all of our property-casualty company partners in our marketing area, pursuant to which the property-casualty companies provide certain services, which include recruiting and training the shared agency force that sells both property-casualty products for that company and life products for us. The service agreements have expiration dates through December 31, 2029. In 2019, we paid $8.0 million for the services provided under these agreements.

Our Advisory Committee, which consists of executives of the property-casualty insurance company partners in our marketing territory, assists us in our relationships with the property-casualty organizations and the Farm Bureau organization leaders in their respective states. The Advisory Committee meets on a regular basis to coordinate efforts and issues involving the agency force and other matters. The Advisory Committee is an important contributor to our success in marketing products through our distribution system.

Royalty and property-casualty service agreements vary in term and expiration date as shown below.

Royalty and Property-Casualty Service Agreements by State
 
 
State
Property-Casualty Service Agreement Expiration Date
 
Royalty Agreement
Expiration Date
 
Percent of 2019
First Year
Premiums Collected
Iowa
December 31, 2024
 
December 31, 2033
 
30.1
%
Kansas
December 31, 2024
 
December 31, 2033
 
13.4

Wyoming
December 31, 2021
 
December 31, 2021
 
8.0

Arizona
December 31, 2024
 
December 31, 2033
 
7.0

Oklahoma
December 31, 2022
 
December 31, 2022
 
6.9

Nebraska
December 31, 2024
 
December 31, 2033
 
6.8

Wisconsin
December 31, 2029
 
December 31, 2029
 
5.6

Idaho
December 31, 2021
 
December 31, 2021
 
4.4

Utah
December 31, 2024
 
December 31, 2033
 
4.3

New Mexico
December 31, 2024
 
December 31, 2033
 
4.2

Montana
December 31, 2021
 
December 31, 2021
 
3.7

Minnesota
December 31, 2024
 
December 31, 2033
 
2.6

North Dakota
December 31, 2021
 
December 31, 2021
 
1.2

South Dakota
December 31, 2024
 
December 31, 2033
 
0.8

Colorado
December 31, 2021
 
Not Applicable
 
0.7

Other
Not Applicable
 
Not Applicable
 
0.3

 
 
 
 
 
100.0
%

Agency Force

Our agency force is one of our most important competitive advantages as the agents are able to develop long term personal relationships through a deep understanding of their customers’ needs. Our priority is to ensure that we have best-in-class distribution systems and support, including agent recruiting and retention, training and leadership. Our agents are independent contractors and exclusive agents. We have a written contract with each member of our agency force. The contract covers a number of topics including privacy, compensation payments and reserving our ownership of customer lists.

In the multi-line states where we manage the Farm Bureau affiliated property-casualty companies, our agents are supervised by agency managers employed by Farm Bureau Property & Casualty Insurance Company. There are 1,197 agents and managers in our multi-line states. These agents market a full range of our life insurance and annuity products. They also market products for

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the property-casualty companies that we manage. These agents are supported by 1,150 sales associates who assist them and provide a variety of support in the sales process. We are responsible for product and sales training for all lines of business in our multi-line states.

In our life partner states, our life insurance and annuity products are marketed by agents that we share with our property-casualty company partners in that state. There are 661 agents and managers in our life partner states. These agents market our life and annuity products and market the property-casualty products of that state’s affiliated property-casualty company. We are responsible for training the agency force in life insurance products and sales methods in our life partner states.

Sales activities of our agents focus on personal contact and on cross-selling life and annuity products to the existing property-casualty customers. The Farm Bureau name recognition and access to Farm Bureau membership provides opportunities for additional customers, cross-selling of additional insurance products and increased retention.

The focus of agency managers is to recruit, train, supervise and retain agents to achieve high production levels of profitable business. In the multi-line states we have a compensation program comprised of salary and a performance-based component, which compensates for attainment of distribution and sales goals. In the life partner states agency manager compensation is comprised of 1) overwrite commissions, which vary according to the productivity level and persistency of business of the agents managed and 2) a reward related to the attainment of sales goals. This compensation structure aligns with the requirements of the agency manager role and offers a financial incentive that aligns with the strategic priorities of growing both agency scale and productivity.

We structure our agents’ life products compensation system to encourage production and persistency. Agents receive commissions for new life insurance and annuity sales and service fees on premium payments in subsequent years. Production bonuses are paid based on the premium level of new life business written in the prior 12 months and the persistency of the business written by the agent. Persistency is a common measure used in life insurance, which measures the quality and the consistent payment of premiums and is included in calculating the bonus to either increase or decrease (or even eliminate) the agent’s production bonus. We are willing to pay added incentives for higher volumes of business only as long as the business is profitable. Production bonuses allow agents to increase their compensation significantly.

We have a variety of incentives and recognition programs to focus agents on production of quality life insurance business. Some recognition programs and incentives are jointly conducted with the property-casualty companies. These programs provide significant incentives for the most productive agents. Approximately 17% of our agents and agency managers qualify for our primary annual incentive trip. Agent recruiting, training, financing and compensation programs are designed to develop a productive agent for the long term.

In order to increase an agent’s opportunity for success and increase retention, we offer a developing agent program in which the agent completes a training program that can take up to four months and achieves certain production minimums on a part-time basis before being contracted as a full-time agent. This program gives us and the agent an opportunity to assess whether the candidate is expected to have a successful long-term career as our agent. The developing agent program, along with new agent financing, centralized training, a quality recruiting/selection process and a strong field leadership team are designed to strengthen our distribution and improve agent retention. Our four-year agency force retention rate for 2019 was approximately 29%.

Business Segments

We analyze operations by reviewing financial information regarding our primary products that are aggregated into the Annuity and Life Insurance product segments. In addition, our Corporate and Other segment includes our developing wealth management business along with various support operations, corporate capital, brokered insurance and investment products and closed blocks of variable insurance products no longer underwritten by the Company.

See Note 13 to our consolidated financial statements included in Item 8 and “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations - Segment Information” included in Item 7 for additional information regarding our financial results by operating segment. Included in the following discussion of our segments are details regarding premiums. We use premiums collected to measure the productivity of our exclusive agents. Premiums collected is not a measure used in financial statements prepared according to U.S. generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP). Note 13 to our consolidated financial statements also includes a discussion of the most comparable GAAP financial measures and, as applicable, a reconciliation to such GAAP measures.


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Annuity Segment

We sell a variety of traditional annuity products through our exclusive agency force. The Annuity segment primarily consists of fixed rate and indexed annuities and supplementary contracts (some of which involve life contingencies). Traditional annuities provide for tax-deferred savings and supplementary contracts provide for the systematic repayment of funds that accumulate interest.

Premiums Collected - Annuity Segment
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Year ended December 31,
 
2019
 
2018
 
2017
 
(Dollars in thousands)
Individual fixed rate
 
 
 
 
 
First year
$
60,895

 
$
75,917

 
$
89,367

Renewal
57,720

 
63,053

 
78,301

Individual indexed
128,188

 
137,627

 
110,553

Group
5,168

 
8,841

 
6,399

Total Annuity
$
251,971

 
$
285,438

 
$
284,620


Annuity premiums collected decreased in 2019 compared to 2018 due to a decline in sales of our fixed rate and indexed annuity products. Annuity premiums collected levels in 2019 were negatively impacted by relatively attractive equity markets, as indicated by an increase in sales of brokered mutual funds sold by our exclusive agents. Annuity premiums collected increased in 2018 compared to 2017 due to an increase in sales of our indexed annuity products, partially offset by decreased sales of our fixed rate deferred annuity products. The amount of traditional annuity premiums collected is highly dependent upon the relationship between the current crediting rates on our products and the perceived security of our products compared to those of competing products. Traditional annuity premiums collected in our Farm Bureau market territory in 2019 were concentrated primarily in the states of Iowa (31%), Kansas (19%) and Wyoming (8%).

Fixed Rate Annuities

We offer annuities that are marketed to individuals in anticipation of retirement. We offer traditional annuities in the form of flexible premium deferred annuities (FPDA) that allow policyholders to make contributions over a number of periods. For traditional annuity products, policyholder account balances are credited interest at rates that we determine subject to a guaranteed minimum. The annuitant may elect to take the proceeds of the annuity either in a single payment or in a series of payments for life, for a fixed number of years, for a fixed amount, or a combination of these options.

In addition to FPDAs, we also market single premium deferred annuities (SPDA) and single premium immediate annuity (SPIA) products, which feature a single premium paid when the contract is issued. Benefit payments and the surrender charge structure on SPDA contracts are similar to other fixed rate annuities. Benefit payments on SPIAs begin immediately after the issuance of the contract.

Approximately 44% of our existing individual traditional annuity business, based on account balances, is held in qualified retirement plans. For deferred annuity products, in order to encourage persistency, a surrender charge is imposed against the policyholder’s account balance for early termination of the annuity contract within a specified period after its effective date. The surrender charge structure varies by product, but typically starts at 6% to 10% and decreases 1% to 2% per year until it reaches 0%.
 
We invest the premiums we receive from fixed rate annuities. The assets reside in our general account. Acquisition costs are paid from the general account as they arise. The difference between the yield we earn on our investment portfolio and the interest we credit on our fixed rate annuities is known as the spread. The spread is a major driver of the profitability for all of our traditional annuity products.


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Interest Crediting Policy

We have a rate setting committee that meets monthly, or more frequently if required, to review and establish current period interest rates based upon existing and anticipated investment opportunities. This applies to new sales and to annuity products after an initial guaranteed period. We examine earnings on assets by portfolio. We then establish rates based on each product’s target spread and competitive market conditions at the time. Most of our annuity contracts have guaranteed minimum crediting rates. These rates range from 1.00% to 5.50%, with a weighted average guaranteed crediting rate of 2.11% at December 31, 2019 and 2.12% at December 31, 2018. The average interest rate guarantees on annuity contracts issued during 2019 was 1.25%.

Indexed Annuities

With an indexed annuity, the policyholder may choose from a traditional fixed rate strategy or an indexed strategy, with the underlying index being the S&P 500®. The product requires crediting of interest and a reset of the index annually. The computation of the index credit is based upon either a point-to-point calculation (i.e., the gain in the index from the beginning of the contract year to the next reset date) or a monthly averaging of the index during the period, subject to a cap. This product allows contract holders to re-allocate funds among the indexed accounts and a traditional fixed rate strategy at the end of each reset period. It includes a guaranteed lifetime withdrawal benefit rider. If activated by the policyholder, the rider provides a minimum amount that is available for withdrawal at specified withdrawal rates even if the accumulated value goes to zero. There is an additional annual charge for the activated rider.

The indexed annuity contract value is equal to the premiums paid less partial withdrawals and rider charges taken from the contract plus interest credited to the fixed portion of the contract and index credits on the indexed portion of the contract. The minimum guaranteed contract values are equal to 87.5% of the premium collected, adjusted for withdrawals and rider charges, plus interest credited annually at the standard nonforfeiture rate, which is currently 1.0%. If there were little or no indexed credits over the life of an indexed annuity, we would incur expenses to increase the account value to the minimum guaranteed contract values. 

Indexed annuity premiums are invested in our general account similar to fixed rate annuities. A portion of the investments are used to purchase one-year call options on the S&P 500 to fund the index credits on the accounts. New call options are purchased at each reset date. The cost of the call options is managed through the terms of the indexed annuities, which permit changes to caps, subject to minimum guarantees. Our spread is also influenced by the aggregate call option costs. Additionally, if we are not successful in matching the terms of the call options with the terms of the indexed annuities, the call option proceeds could vary from the indexed credits, thus increasing or reducing aggregate call option costs and causing spreads to widen or tighten.

Withdrawal Rates

Withdrawal rates (excluding death benefits) for our individual deferred annuities were 5.7% for 2019, 5.3% for 2018 and 4.2% for 2017. The individual annuity withdrawal rate increased in 2019 and 2018, compared to prior periods, due to certain annuity contracts reaching the end of their interest rate guarantee period and the competitiveness of our current crediting rates relative to other financial institutions and products.


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Interest Crediting Rates Compared to Guarantees - Annuity Segment
 
 
 
Liabilities at
 
December 31, 2019
 
(Dollars in thousands)
Fixed rate annuities:
 
Greater than or equal to 100 basis points over guarantee
$
18,345

50 basis points to 99 basis points over guarantee
222,830

1 basis point to 49 basis points over guarantee
382,777

At guaranteed rate
2,036,093

Indexed annuities
753,805

Non-discretionary rate setting products
705,632

Total interest sensitive product liabilities
$
4,119,482

Impact of unrealized gains and losses
(14,428
)
Interest sensitive reserves
$
4,105,054


In Force - Annuity Segment
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
December 31,
 
2019
 
2018
 
2017
 
(Dollars in thousands)
Number of contracts
51,536

 
52,911

 
53,250

Interest sensitive reserves
$
4,105,054

 
$
4,036,152

 
$
3,963,187

Other insurance reserves
335,222

 
338,646

 
355,877


Life Insurance Segment

We sell a variety of traditional and universal life insurance products through our exclusive agency force. The Life Insurance segment consists of whole life, term life and universal life policies. These policies provide benefits upon the death of the insured and may also allow the customer to build cash value on a tax-deferred basis.


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Premiums Collected - Life Insurance Segment
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
For the year ended December 31,
 
2019
 
2018
 
2017
 
(Dollars in thousands)
Universal life:
 
 
 
 
 
First year
$
27,453

 
$
28,884

 
$
26,438

Renewal
88,770

 
80,101

 
74,070

Total
116,223

 
108,985

 
100,508

Whole life:
 
 
 
 
 
First year
9,450

 
12,139

 
11,918

Renewal
92,698

 
94,555

 
95,846

Total
102,148

 
106,694

 
107,764

Term life and other:
 
 
 
 
 
First year
11,001

 
10,843

 
10,282

Renewal
108,992

 
105,809

 
101,623

Total
119,993

 
116,652

 
111,905

Total Life Insurance
338,364

 
332,331

 
320,177

Reinsurance ceded
(27,637
)
 
(28,102
)
 
(27,833
)
Total Life Insurance, net of reinsurance
$
310,727

 
$
304,229

 
$
292,344


Life premiums collected were higher in 2019 and 2018 compared to the prior years due to increased sales of universal life and term life policies. These increases were partially offset by a decline in sales of whole life. Life insurance premiums collected in our market territory in 2019 were concentrated primarily in the states of Iowa (23%), Kansas (15%) and Oklahoma (9%).

Traditional Life Insurance

We offer whole life insurance, which provides benefits for the life of the insured. Whole life insurance provides level premiums and a level death benefit and requires payments in excess of mortality costs in early years to offset increasing mortality costs in later years. We currently offer a non-participating whole life insurance product. Prior to May 2019, we offered participating whole life insurance. Under the terms of the participating whole life policies, policyholders have a right to participate in the overall performance of the participating life block to the extent determined by Farm Bureau Life, generally through annual dividends. Participating business accounted for 27% of direct life premiums collected from policyholders during 2019 and represented 10% of life insurance in force at December 31, 2019.

We also market nonparticipating term insurance policies that provide life insurance protection for a specified period. Term insurance is mortality based and generally has no cash value. However, we also offer a return of premium term product, which returns a percentage of premiums after a set number of years. For a portion of our business, we may change the premium scales at any time but may not increase rates above guaranteed levels. In addition to our level face amount term products we also offer an increasing face amount term product. Our increasing term life insurance product allows for scheduled increases of 20% of the initial face amount on the first five anniversaries. Premiums during the specified period increase as the face amount of the policy increases.


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Universal Life Insurance

Our universal life policies provide permanent life insurance protection which allows the customer to pre-fund future insurance costs and accumulate savings on a tax-deferred basis. Premiums received, less policy assessments for administration expenses and mortality costs, are credited to the policyholder’s account balance. Interest is credited to the cash value at rates that we periodically set.

Our indexed universal life insurance product provides life insurance protection with flexible premium payments and provides a death benefit with cash accumulation. The premium is paid into a holding account and once it is fully funded with a year’s worth of policy charges, the excess value is transferred into an indexed segment or a fixed account, according to the selected allocation. The fixed and holding accounts are credited interest at a rate declared by the Company. The value in the indexed segment earns interest based on the percentage change in the S&P 500. A quarterly review is conducted to determine whether the holding account contains 12 months’ worth of policy charges. We purchase one-year call options on the S&P 500 to fund the indexed segment credits. Interest on each of the indexed segments is credited annually on a point-to-point basis. After any annual earned interest is credited to an indexed segment, the money is transferred back to the holding account where it can become eligible for a new indexed segment. Positive interest credit is subject to a cap. If the ending index value is less than the initial index value, the interest credit will be zero.

Our universal life with secondary guarantee product provides life insurance protection with flexible premium payments and fully guaranteed interest, cost of insurance charges and other expenses. The policy will remain in force for the guaranteed period even if the surrender value of the policy is zero, as long as the planned premiums are paid on time.

Underwriting

We follow formal underwriting standards and procedures designed to properly assess and quantify life insurance risks before issuing policies to individuals. To implement these procedures, we employ an underwriting staff of 11 underwriters who have an average of 15 years of experience in the insurance industry. We also utilize technology and automation to provide additional data to improve future risk selection.

Our underwriters review each application, which is prepared under the supervision of our agents, and supported by any required testing and records: blood, urine or oral fluid testing, paramedical/physicians’ examinations, motor vehicle or pharmacological inspection reports and medical records. We generally begin employing blood, oral fluid or urine testing (including HIV antibody testing) whenever the applicant is at least 18 and at face amounts of at least $50,000. Additional underwriting requirements and inspection reports are required as either the face amount or the age of the proposed insured increases. Based on available information, we may adjust the mortality charge or decline coverage completely.

In 2017, we began an accelerated underwriting program on a pilot basis. This program is a non-medical underwriting approach that includes (1) an oral swab, which can detect nicotine use, (2) an electronic inspection report, which can identify a variety of risks and (3) a diagnostic review, which for a portion of applicants, will provide insight into previous medical lab results. This pilot program has been available only for ages 18 to 59 and for face amounts of $100,000 to $250,000. We are currently evaluating this pilot program.

Generally, tobacco use by a life insurance applicant within the preceding one-year period results in a substantially higher mortality charge. In accordance with industry practice, material misrepresentation on a policy application can result in the cancellation of the policy upon the return of any premiums paid. In 2018, we introduced a new life insurance underwriting rating for smokeless tobacco users. Previously, customers who used chewing tobacco were classified under the smokers’ rate.


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Interest Crediting and Participating Dividend Policy

The interest crediting policy for our life insurance products is the same as for our traditional annuity products in the Annuity segment. See “Interest Crediting Policy” under the Annuity Segment discussion. We pay dividends, credit interest and determine other nonguaranteed elements on the individual insurance policies depending on the type of product. Some elements, such as dividends, are generally declared for a year at a time. Interest rates and other nonguaranteed elements are determined based on experience as it emerges and with regard to competitive factors. Weighted average contractual credited rates on our universal life contracts were 3.31% in 2019, 3.38% in 2018 and 3.76% in 2017. Our universal life contracts have guaranteed minimum crediting rates that range from 1.00% to 4.50%, with a weighted average guaranteed crediting rate of 3.42% at December 31, 2019 and 3.50% at December 31, 2018.

Interest Crediting Rates of Interest Sensitive Life Products Compared to Guarantees - Life Insurance Segment
 
 
 
Liabilities at
 
December 31, 2019
 
(Dollars in thousands)
Discretionary rate setting products with minimum guarantees:
 
Greater than or equal to 100 basis points over guarantee
$
114,273

At guaranteed rate
778,725

Non-discretionary rate setting products
162,013

Total interest sensitive product liabilities
$
1,055,011

Impact of unrealized gains and losses
(15,676
)
Interest sensitive reserves
$
1,039,335


Policyholder dividends are paid as declared on participating policies. Policyholder dividend scales are generally established annually and are based on the performance of assets supporting these policies, the mortality experience of the policies, expense levels and other factors. Our participating business does not have minimum guaranteed dividend rates.

In Force - Life Insurance Segment
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
December 31,
 
2019
 
2018
 
2017
 
(Dollars in thousands, except face amounts in millions)
Number of policies - traditional life
365,399

 
365,909

 
365,382

Number of policies - universal life
72,972

 
69,832

 
66,382

Face amounts - traditional life
$
53,320

 
$
52,191

 
$
50,842

Face amounts - universal life
8,246

 
7,777

 
7,276

Traditional insurance reserves
2,043,029

 
2,001,449

 
1,951,565

Interest sensitive reserves
1,039,335

 
989,513

 
979,858

 
Corporate and Other Segment

The Corporate and Other segment includes (i) wealth management services; (ii) advisory services for the management of investments for other companies; (iii) a management fee for managing the affiliated property-casualty companies; (iv) marketing and distribution services for the sale of mutual funds and insurance products not issued by us; (v) leasing services with affiliates; (vi) closed blocks of variable annuity, variable life and accident and health products; (vii) interest expense and (viii) investments and related investment income not specifically allocated to our product segments.

Wealth management services include the offering of financial planning, investment advisory and full-service brokerage services. We offer a personal and comprehensive approach to wealth management and have access to a broad selection of investment products and retail mutual funds. Revenues are primarily derived from fee-based advisory services and commissions from sales of mutual funds, debt and equity securities.

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We previously issued our own variable products, but in 2010 discontinued underwriting new sales. The existing in force business remains on our books and we continue to administer this business. Variable premiums collected from prior sales were $48.0 million in 2019, $50.0 million in 2018 and $53.6 million in 2017. For a period between 2010 and 2017, we earned fees from the sale of variable products underwritten by another insurance company with variable product expertise. This was discontinued in 2017. A portion of these revenues was passed on to our agents as commissions for the underlying sales.

Reinsurance

We reinsure a portion of our life insurance exposure with unaffiliated insurance companies under traditional indemnity reinsurance agreements. New sales of life products are reinsured above prescribed limits and do not require the reinsurer’s prior approval within certain guidelines. We do not use financial or surplus relief reinsurance. We enter into indemnity reinsurance arrangements to assist in diversifying our risks and to limit our maximum loss on risks that exceed our policy retention limits. Our current maximum retention limit on an insured life is $1.0 million.

Reinsurance contracts do not fully discharge our obligation to pay claims on the reinsured business. As the ceding insurer, we remain responsible for policy claims to the extent the reinsurer fails to pay claims. No reinsurer of business ceded by us has failed to pay any material policy claims (either individually or in the aggregate) with respect to our ceded business. We continually evaluate the financial strength of our reinsurers and monitor concentrations of credit risk. If for any reason reinsurance coverages would need to be replaced, we believe that replacement coverages from financially responsible reinsurers would be available.

Primary Reinsurers as of December 31, 2019
Reinsurer
A.M. Best
Rating
 
Amount of
In Force Ceded
 
Reserve Credit
 
 
 
(Dollars in millions)
Swiss Re Life & Health America Inc.
A+
 
$
5,867.9

 
$
29.4

RGA Reinsurance Company
A+
 
4,204.0

 
30.3

SCOR Global Life USA Reinsurance Company
A+
 
2,116.3

 
11.3

All other (11 reinsurers)*
A to A++
 
1,582.5

 
7.0

Total
 
 
$
13,770.7

 
$
78.0


*
All other includes Scottish Re and Employers Reassurance, which are not rated by A.M. Best. New business with Scottish Re was terminated in 2007 and with Employers Reassurance in 2004. As of December 31, 2019, $215.8 million of in force and $0.4 million of reserves were ceded to these two reinsurers.

In addition, we have an annual 100% quota share accidental death reinsurance agreement. Coverage includes all acts of terrorism including those of a nuclear, chemical or biological origin. Coverage is subject to an annual aggregate retention by us of $17.0 million.

Ratings and Competition

Financial strength ratings are an important factor in establishing the competitive position of insurance companies. Insurer financial strength ratings represent the opinions of rating agencies regarding the ability of an insurance company to meet its financial obligations to policyholders and contract holders. Credit ratings represent the opinions of rating agencies regarding an issuer’s ability to repay its indebtedness. Ratings are subject to revision or withdrawal at any time by the rating agency, and therefore, no assurance can be given that a rating will be maintained.

As of the date of this filing, Farm Bureau Life’s A.M. Best financial strength rating is “A” (Excellent) with a stable outlook and its long-term issuer credit rating is “a+” with a stable outlook. FBL Financial Group’s A.M. Best long-term issuer credit rating is “bbb+” with a stable outlook.

A.M. Best has 16 financial strength ratings assigned to insurance companies, which currently range from A++ (Superior) to S (Suspended). A.M. Best’s issuer credit ratings range from aaa (exceptional) to d (in default). A “+” or “-“ may be appended to ratings from aa to ccc to indicate relative position within a category. A rating of bbb- or above is considered investment grade. As of the date of this filing, A.M. Best has the life/annuity industry on a stable rating outlook.

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We operate in a highly competitive industry. Insurers compete based primarily upon price, service level and the financial strength of the company. The operating results of companies in the insurance industry historically have been subject to significant fluctuations due to competition, economic conditions, interest rates, investment performance, maintenance of insurance ratings from rating agencies and other factors. We believe our ability to compete with other insurance companies is dependent upon, among other things, our ability to attract and retain agents to market our insurance products, our ability to develop competitive and profitable products and our ability to maintain good or better ratings from rating agencies. In connection with the development and sale of our products, we encounter significant competition from other insurance companies and other financial institutions, such as banks and broker/dealers, many of which have financial resources substantially greater than ours.

Regulation

All segments of our business are highly regulated. See Item 1A. Risk Factors.

Employees

At December 31, 2019, we had 1,751 full-time employees. A majority of our employees, including the executive officers, also provide services to Farm Bureau Property & Casualty Insurance Company and other affiliates pursuant to management agreements. None of our employees are members of a collective bargaining unit.

ITEM 1A. RISK FACTORS

Risk Factors

The performance of our company is subject to a variety of risks that you should review. Occurrence of these risks could materially affect our business, results of operations or financial condition, cause the trading price of our common stock to decline materially or cause our actual results to differ materially from those expected or those expressed in any forward looking statements made by or on behalf of the Company.

Changing interest rates, market volatility and general economic conditions affect the risks and the returns on both our products and our investment portfolio.

The fair value of our investments and our investment performance, including yields and realization of gains or losses, may vary depending on economic and market conditions. The shape of the yield curve and the level of interest rates can impact the profitability of our products. Interest rate risk is our primary market risk exposure. Substantial and sustained increases and decreases in market interest rates can materially affect the profitability of our products, the fair value of our investments and the reported value of stockholders’ equity.
In addition, advances on our funding agreements with the Federal Home Loan Bank (FHLB) are secured by collateral, the fair value of which can be significantly impacted by general market conditions. If the fair value of pledged collateral falls below specific levels, we would be required to pledge additional eligible collateral or repay all or a portion of our advances.

A key component of our financial results is the spread earned (the investment yield we earn less the crediting rates we pay to our policyholders). A narrowing of spreads would adversely affect operating results. Although we have the right to adjust interest crediting rates on a portion of our business in force, changes to crediting rates may not be sufficient to maintain targeted investment spreads in all economic and market environments. Our ability to lower crediting rates is subject to contractual minimum crediting rate guarantees. In addition, competition and other factors, including the potential for increases in surrenders and withdrawals, may limit our ability to adjust or maintain crediting rates at levels necessary to avoid the narrowing of spreads under certain market conditions.

Conversely, in periods of rapidly increasing interest rates, surrenders and withdrawals may increase as policyholders seek financial instruments with higher investment returns, commonly referred to as disintermediation. This may lead to net cash outflows and the resulting liquidity demands may require us to sell investments when the prices of those assets are adversely affected by the increase in interest rates, which may result in realized investment losses.


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The London Interbank Offered Rate (LIBOR) benchmark rate is to be phased out after 2021. Uncertainty regarding replacement reference rates may adversely impact our investments that reference LIBOR. We continue to monitor developments regarding this change.

See Item 7. Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations - Market Risks of Financial Instruments for further discussion of our interest rate risk exposure and information regarding our asset-liability management program.
Difficult conditions in the financial markets and the economy may materially adversely affect our business and results of operations.

Our results of operations are materially affected by conditions in the economy and financial markets. The U.S. economy and global economy have both slowed noticeably from a year ago, leading to lower U.S. Treasury yields compared to a year ago. Credit spreads have also narrowed, leading to low overall market yields. Portfolio investment yields will continue to decline across the life insurance and annuity industry as long as market yields remain below portfolio yields.
Our business generally benefits from moderate to strong economic expansion. Conversely, a lackluster economy characterized by higher unemployment, lower family income, lower consumer spending, muted corporate earnings growth and lower business investment could adversely impact the demand for our products in the future. In addition, a significant portion of our customer base operates in the agricultural industry;