I generally avoid posting about newsworthy topics. The media is a much more efficient outlet of news that this website. However, occasionally there is a newsworthy event which needs to be addressed. Last week the Des Moines Register reported that Aviva plc would "consider offers" for Aviva USA and then yesterday evening I saw stories on the local news further worrying what would happen if one of the region's largest employers were to be sold. Aviva is strong insurance company and they have produced some great financial products. For those clients who own Aviva products, I thought it may be helpful to address how all of this speculation may affect you.
Aviva USA is the U.S. subsidiary of the larger United Kingdom based global insurance giant Aviva plc. All insurance companies are owned either by their policy owners (a mutual company) or by investors (a stock company). Aviva USA is a stock insurance company but 100% of the stock is owned by Aviva plc. It is important to understand this distinction because stock insurance companies change ownership constantly. Stock of companies like Principal, Prudential, Genworth, and Allstate (just to name a few) trade continuously on public exchanges. Every time a share of stock changes hands, the ownership of the company changes but that does not affect the company's in-force policies.
The only difference between a publicly held stock insurance company and a privately held stock insurance company, is that there is no active marketplace for shares of Aviva USA stock. If, and no one has been able to confirm or deny that a deal is in the works, Aviva plc were to sell their stock in Aviva USA there would be little impact on the company's financial stability or their obligation to honor the insurance contracts which are currently in force.
Who knows if Aviva USA is up for sale? From the perspective of a policy owner or an insured, there is nothing to fear.
The greater risk is to the Central Iowa economy if new ownership were to decide to relocate the company. Given that the company just built a state-of-the-art $150 million headquarters, I find it hard to imagine that any buyer of Aviva USA would be willing to abandon the current facility.