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Stock up on life insurance at Walmart

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Walmart to sell MetLife insuranceMetLife, Walmart and an iconic beagle with droopy ears have forged a partnership to sell life insurance to bargain-hunting shoppers.

The New York-based insurer now offers a prepaid life insurance policy in about 200 Walmart stores in Georgia and South Carolina. Packaging and promotional materials for the one-year policies, which start at $69 for $10,000 in death benefits for people ages 18 to 44, feature the puckish image of Snoopy, the "Peanuts" canine created by Charles Schulz. (See: "Is funeral insurance for you?")

The big-box chain store, headquartered in Bentonville, Ark., and recognized as the world's biggest retailer, follows in the steps of Costco, which began offering health insurance in nine states last April. Costco hooked up with Aetna in its insurance deal. (See: "Ready to put health insurance on your Costco shopping list?")

Walmart's clout attracted the insurer

Shane Winn, a MetLife spokesperson, said the joint venture with Walmart will provide the largest U.S. life insurer in the U.S. with access to the retailer's broad consumer base.

"With 84 percent of Americans having shopped there in the past year, Walmart provides the type of reach and scale that MetLife seeks, so we can bring this product to the widest possible audience," said Winn.

Winn described the partnership as "a pilot program" with no immediate plans to offer policies beyond South Carolina and Georgia. But if sales are good in those states, he noted, it would make good business sense for MetLife to consider marketing to other regions.

The policies vary according to age and how much coverage you want. People aged 60 to 65 pay $429 a year for $25,000 worth of coverage, while those 18 to 44 can get a one-year, $10,000 policy for $69.

So how does the process work? Walmart shoppers buy cards equal to the policy's cost. From there, they'd call MetLife, which would ask questions about their health and, if approved, activate the policy. Those who don't qualify can get a refund at Walmart, Winn says. (See: "Life insurance basics.")

New life insurance trend: cutting out the middle-man

MetLife has made it clear since its earnings report in May that it wants to cut expenses by $600 million by 2016. One of the ways to do this is to focus more on direct sales -- like selling insurance on the web or at Walmart. Direct sales of life insurance could climb to 13 percent of the nationwide life insurance market in 2016, up from the 8 percent in 2010, according to a company presentation following the report.

But Winn stressed that the Walmart partnership is not about cost cutting; it's more about finding an untapped revenue stream in a new market.

Sarah Spencer, a Walmart spokesperson, told Bloomberg news that this is the first time the retailer has sold insurance. She added that Walmart is trying to expand its financial services offerings and that it's too early to judge customers' response to MetLife's products.

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  1. The Hampster

    What a stupid product ...

  2. Life Insurance

    Wow!Walmart has been with the of the good and useful policy as life insurance is part of any human being so hope fro the best!

  3. Term Life Online

    The 1 year term life policy may only really be attractive to people who don't understand life insurance. What happens when the policy expires in a year and they realize the rate will be higher to get a new policy. If they were properly instructed, they would probably choose a longer term to meet their real life insurance needs.

  4. South Carolina Insurance

    This is one type of marketing technique. Most of the shopping malls tie up with insurance companies and based on costumer's bill they are providing insurance policies at low costs.

  5. Thomas

    I have a booth at Walmart offering free advice for Medicare eleigable clients. This venue does Offer a broad base of clients and the fact that 100 million people visit a Walmart Each week is a bonanza for any consumer product. I do not see the average Walmart shopper Showing any interest in insurance advise or products. The workers in this company are not Well versed in insurance participation either and it's almost illegal to even place a product Like this in a store with absolutely no governance under current insurance laws. On the plus Side it will bring some awareness to the need for most americans to return to life insurance. We are not only in 16 trillion dollars of public debit but add another 16 trillion of personal Debit to that equation. What they really need to offer is mortgage and student loan protection. Getting someone a 10,000 dollar policy will at least start people thinking and shopping for more Coverage and at that point a real insurance professional can bring some closure to the table.