Aetna and Auto-Owners Life Insurance Company are two very different kinds of insurance providers that offer various types of insurance for their customers. Aetna is the larger of the two, by far. The two companies also greatly differ in the types of insurance they offer their customers.
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Founded in 1850 in Hartford, Connecticut, Aetna Insurance Company originally was a life insurance company. It still sells life insurance, but only as group policies sold to employers. Today, Aetna’s primary focus is health insurance. It focuses primarily on group policies there as well, but does offer some individual health insurance policies in a limited number of markets. Its group health and life policies are available in all 50 states. The company also offers dental, vision, Medicare, pharmacy and other types of health care policies.
Types of Insurance
Offered only as a group policy through an employer, Aetna does not offer any whole life insurance policies for direct purchase, either to groups or to individuals. Indeed, it offers no original life insurance policies to individuals at all, though it does offer to convert a covered employee’s term insurance to whole life coverage when the employee retires or is terminated, or ages out of a class eligible for term insurance. Its full range of life insurance products available for direct, original purchase is:
- Basic and Supplemental Term Life Insurance
- Accidental Death and Personal Loss
- Dependent Life Insurance with Dependent Accidental Death for spouses and children
Term insurance provides a cash death benefit only for a specific length of time, of course. The company notifies insured individuals that death benefits may be reduced by set amounts as individuals age, urging individuals to contact someone in their human resources departments for details. Aetna will take claims that individuals make directly to the company, but it prefers that claims be routed through the insured’s human resources department.
For some policies and with voluntary added premium amounts, Aetna offers a portability feature that allows an insured individual to move his Aetna term life insurance from one company to another. It also allows insured individuals to continue their Aetna coverage on an individual basis if they leave the employ of the company through which the individual originally became insured.
This area is Aetna’s primary focus. The company also prefers to deal in group policies contracted with employers, but it does offer individual policies in a limited number of states.
Aetna requires that individuals use physicians within the extensive Aetna network, which includes physicians and specialists in all areas of the country. Aetna gives equal attention to all stages of life, including end of life care. Its Aetna Compassionate Care SM Program provides home care and hospice services for those nearing the end of their lives.
Aetna offers dental insurance directly to individuals as well as through employer group plans, and offers three types of dental insurance, each of which insures the individual at different levels and for different conditions and procedures. The company’s three types of dental insurance are:
- Dental Maintenance Organization (DMO®)
- Preferred Provider Organization (PPO) or Participating Dental Network (PDN)
- Dental Indemnity
Only the DMO program requires an in–office copay. The other programs begin to pay for services after the individual meets a minimum deductible amount that varies with the type of dental insurance that the individual selects.
Aetna’s website stresses that this program is a savings program, and is not insurance. The company does offer group vision insurance, but the program it promotes is its vision savings plan. This plan offers discounts on eye exams, eyeglasses, contact lenses, LASIK surgery and similar services. Aetna maintains a network of care providers that includes local optometrists and ophthalmologists, but also includes:
- Pearle Vision®
- JCPenney® Optical
- Target Optical®
- Sears Optical®
Aetna offers three different plans associated with Medicare, which of course requires that the insured individual be qualified for and registered with Medicare. Qualification means only that the individual is over the age of 65. There are several plans within each of Aetna’s three categories, and each individual needs to choose a category based on his own needs. The three categories are:
- Medicare Advantage Plans
- Medicare Supplement Plans (Medigap)
- Medicare Rx Plans (PDP)
Aetna offers this insurance only through employer plans. It is not available for individual purchase. For those eligible for it, the terms of Aetna’s disability insurance depends on what the company negotiates with each employer. The benefit the individual receives is dependent on annual salary at minimum, and on the terms that the employer negotiates with Aetna.
This also is available only through employer plans. It is not an insurance policy, but rather is a discount program for prescription drugs. The plan favors generic drugs, as well as mail order pharmacy savings. The company states that an insured individual can purchase a three – month supply of an ongoing prescription by mail for the same price as a two – month supply at a local pharmacy.
Student Health Insurance
This is a medical insurance plan available only through college or university sponsored plans and is not available for individual purchase. It is a comprehensive policy that provides health, fitness, vision and dental benefits for college and university students.
This also is available only through employer group plans. It provides benefits for behavioral health counseling, primarily because Aetna understands that mental illness affects physical health. Mental illness insurance is availableAccess to behavioral counseling may originate in any direction where employers maintain coverage. Individuals can seek counseling, or they may be referred to behavioral counseling as a result of a physical issue such as a heart attack.
Health Expense Funds
Aetna provides access to a Health Savings Account (HSA) or Flexible Spending Accounts (FSA) for individuals whose employers choose either or both options. Neither the HSA nor the FSA is available outside of an employer group program. It is not available to individuals.
Auto-Owners Life Insurance Company
Auto-Owners Life Insurance Company was founded more than 90 years ago in Michigan, and since 2002 has appeared on the Fortune 500 list each year for the past decade. Auto-Owners is a regional company that operates in 26 states. It has more than 50,000 applications each year, and in 2011 had life insurance policies in effect totaling more than $27 billion. The company is organized as a mutual insurer, and offers its insurance products through 37,000 agents in 6,200 insurance agencies in its 26 – state area of operation.
Types of Insurance
Auto-Owners includes its annuities, long term care insurance and disability income protection in its life insurance section. In life insurance alone, the company offers term life insurance policies, as well as these types of whole life and universal life insurance:
- Universal and Whole Life Insurance
- Simplified Issue Whole Life Insurance
- Simplified Issue Children’s Advantage Plan Plus® Life Insurance
The company offers term life insurance in 10, 20 and 30 year terms in three types. They are level term insurance, mortgage decreasing term, and simplified issue five – year level term. Level term pays the same death benefit at any point in the term of the insurance coverage. Mortgage decreasing term pays a decreasing death benefit that declines as the insured ages. The simplified issue five – year level term insurance product provides a death benefit at a low cost, and is intended to be used for final expenses and debt obligations.
The company offers an array of homeowners and renters insurance policies covering homes, condominiums, mobile homes, farms and rental homes. There are several types of discounts available. Discount points include:
- Insuring for 100% of home replacement cost
- Insuring dwellings while under construction
- Older home owners and renters
- Maintaining multiple policies
- Paying annual premium in full
- Using protection devices such as smoke alarms and fire extinguishers
- Insuring seasonal dwellings
Additionally, there are many other options available. Some of these include insurance against spoiled food from power outages, jewelry, furs, personal computers and similar items.
Auto-Owners insures drivers in 26 states through more than 6,300 independent insurance agencies. The company provides all minimum coverages required in every state in which it operates, but it also offers many additional options, both in coverage limits and in services. Auto-Owners also maintains an extensive discount list that includes items such as safety devices (airbags, anti-theft, ABS), good student discounts, mature drivers, safe drivers, multiple policies, multiple vehicles and others.
Auto-Owners also offers full – spectrum business insurance coverage, for both large and small companies. The types of the business insurance that Auto-Owners provides includes:
- Commercial buildings
- Business liability
- Commercial automobiles
- Garages and dealerships
- Excess business liability
- Disability income
Discounts are available for new buildings, multiple policies and if the annual premium is paid in a lump sum. There are several optional types of business insurance as well, such as business life insurance, contractors’ equipment, earthquake, flood and professional liability policies.
Comparing the Companies
Aetna is one of the largest insurance companies and operates in all 50 states, whereas Auto-Owners Insurance is a regional company that does not offer health care insurance policies as Aetna does. Both companies offer life insurance, but Aetna only deals directly with individuals when they leave their employers’ group policies.
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