Insurer's office to serve Chinese community

Updated: 2014-07-10 07:38

By AMY HE in New York (China Daily USA)

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Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company will open its first office in Flushing, Queens, to serve that New York community's growing Chinese-American population.

One of the largest life insurance companies in the United States, MassMutual will begin operating in the next few weeks on Main Street with a team of 10 agents, the Springfield-based company said in a statement on Tuesday. Randy Chow, a long-time Flushing resident, will be in charge of the office, the company said.

"It is an exciting time to introduce MassMutual to Flushing," Chow said. "This is a rapidly growing area of families and business owners with unique and diverse financial needs. We feel we are uniquely qualified to serve these needs now and into the future."

MassMutual's expansion into Flushing comes as the 163-year-old company saw its sales force within the Chinese market in the US triple in the last five years, company spokeswoman Karen Lavariere-Sanchez told China Daily, though she declined to provide specifics. The company has increased its presence in Chinese communities around the US by 300 percent in the last three years, she said.

"The Chinese market is growing and the demand for insurance as well as investment needs is growing just as dramatically," Chow told China Daily. "MassMutual is a Fortune 100 company and we think we can provide great support and help to the people in this community."

The company has been "looking to get into the Chinese market for years", Chow said, and opened up more than half a dozen locations on the West Coast, specifically servicing Chinese communities in the Bay Area in San Francisco, Los Angeles and Seattle.

MassMutual decided on locating an office in Flushing because the New York borough has the fastest-growing Chinese metropolitan community on the East Coast, he said. Flushing's Chinese population increased 93 percent to 33,526 in 2010 from 17,363 people in 2000, according to the last US Census.

"As the Chinese population grows — the number of immigrants, the first-generation Chinese, the second-generation Chinese — their demands become different and grow as well," Chow said.

What used to just be a demand for income replacement — income paid out to an insurance buyer's family upon the person's death — has now grown to disability insurance, 401(k) rollovers, and pension maximization, he said.

Marketing and selling life insurance to Asian Americans is becoming an increasing point of focus for insurers, since use of professional financial planning services is still low in the Asian-American community compared to others. According to the National Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors, only 18 percent of Asian Americans use financial professionals and only 27 percent have a formal written retirement plan, while 80 percent believe that life insurance can be "an effective part of retirement planning".

"The needs of the community have diversified, and now we're discussing things like investment, longer-term care, and wealth transition between one generation and another, for example," Chow said. "Now, not only are we taking care of those whose lives have been cut short, we're also taking care of those who live much longer than people used to."

Insurer's office to serve Chinese community
The staff of Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company at its new location in Flushing, Queens on Wednesday. The branch will be the company's first in Queens and was opened specifically to service the Chinese-American community in the borough. AMY HE / CHINA DAILY

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