Aflac is one of the top rated supplemental insurance companies in the United States. They offer a variety of different co-insurance plans that are popular choices for Americans who want to have extra coverage on top of their regular insurance. It's truly a remarkable company that is known for putting cash in your pocket at the times when you need it the most. Here are 20 things that you probably didn't know about AFLAC but might find interesting.
1. A Duck does the majority of their marketing
If you've ever seen a Duck on a commercial, the odds are that it was the famous and now iconic Aflacduck. He's the one that can be heard screaming "AFLAC." Its their greatest promotional campaign and the duck is the mascot for the company. He appears in their television commercials and in audio recordings. There is little doubt about which company the commercial is about when you hear the duck softly quack "Aflac" and increase in his intensity to a shrill scream. The agents even give out Aflac ducks to their clients in a variety of sizes and when you squeeze them, they say "AFLAC."
2. The name is an acronym
Many people who recognize the duck or the name Aflac really don't know what it stands for. It's an acronym for the name of the company which is American Family Life Assurance of Columbus. It was shortened because it's catchier to say Aflac and it isn't nearly the mouthful that repeating the entire title of the company would be.
3. Aflac was established in 1955
The Aflac supplemental insurance company has been in operation since 1955. The founders were three brothers named Bill, John and Paul Amos. Together they established the family owned insurance company. The first office was set up in Columbus, Georgia. This is the city in which the headquarters is currently located. They underwrite a range of different types of supplemental insurance policies that cover the insured in the event of illness or accident, depending upon the type of policies that are chosen.
4. Aflac acquired Continental American Insurance Company
In 2009, Aflac purchased the Continental American Insurance Company. The deal cost Aflac $100 million but it benefited the company by allowing them to sell both group and individual policy platforms. Previously they had mainly catered to businesses selling group policies to employees of participating companies. This expanded the coverage to people who were not employed or who's employers were not subscribers to Aflac insurance. This was good news for subscribers who had previously enjoyed Aflac benefits who were no longer with groups that allowed Aflac to market their products.
5. Aflac is international
Aflac provides supplemental insurance coverage to around 50 million clients throughout the world at this time. In June of 2012, they had expanded their services to the country of Japan. There were more than 19,000 sales agencies located in Japan with 76,900 sales associates licensed in the United States. The company has been expanding into new territories with their supplemental insurance products and convenient payroll deduction plans.
6. They added cancer policies to their product line in 1958
Just three years after the business was up and running, they started selling cancer policies. The brothers had been seeing an increase in the number of cancer cases and how devastating a diagnosis could be upon the financial health of the people affected, along with their families. They developed cancer insurance policies that would help to put cash in the pockets upon the initial diagnosis of the condition, along with more coverage for tests, travel and related expenses. The policies are very detailed and they are offered in a few different coverage tiers. This type of coverage is most highly recommended for people who have a history of cancer in their families, or who are at high risk for developing cancer. There are some limitations in place for those who have previously had cancer themselves.
7. They changed the name of the company
When Aflac was first registered in 1955, they were known as American Family Life Insurance Company of Columbus. They changed the name in 1964 to American Family Life Assurance Company of Columbus. They didn't use the acronym for the company until 1989. The marketers decided that the full name of the company was too long and that they needed to make it easier to say and to remember as a marketing strategy that would make the brand unique and easier for people to connect with.
8. Their business model is brilliant
Aflac is one of the most efficiently ran insurance companies in the United States. Their business model works to perfection. The company makes a good profit on their insurance policies because the revenues that they collect for their premiums are more than what they pay for their administrative work and the payouts for benefits to the insured clients. This gives them extra money to invest back into the company. It results in a negative interest rate on loans. They're not the only insurer who works on the model, but it certainly has been working well for Aflac.
9. Their first years in the business were highly successful
Most companies who are just getting established in the industry spend a few years struggling to make the business work. The first year that Aflac was open for business, it signed up 6,426 new clients as policy holders. They operated on the principle of connecting with employers and having them sponsor the plans to their workers. This made it easy for them to reach entire workforce teams. Working off of a payroll deduction model ensured that the premium payments would always be paid on time as well. It was a great system that worked well for everyone involved. Although not all of their clients used the payroll deduction system, the majority of them did and by 2003, over 98 percent of all Aflac policies within the US were enrolled under the payroll deduction plan.
10. Aflac offers a range of insurance policies
There are several different options for supplemental insurance policies available through Aflac. They offer accident that pays cash if you are injured on or off the job. They also offer cancer and specified disease policies. There are plans that cover hospital intensive care, hospital confinement with a sickness indemnity and hospital with a confinement indemnity. They also offer dental policies. In addition to medical and dental, they also offer Life insurance in a variety of different policy options, specified health event, short term disability, vision, lump sum cancer critical illness and lump sum cancer policies. The company also offers plans for un-reimbursed medical, transportation flexible spending accounts and dependent daycare. In addition to these, they offer human resources services for COBRA and HIPPA.
11. Aflac owned multiple television stations
Here is a little known fact about Aflac that we thought was novel and interesting. Between 1979 and 1997, flac was the owner of several small to medium sized television stations. Their flagship station was WTVM, which changed its name to Raycom Media. It sold their broadcasting division in 1997. It seems like an unlikely union, but Aflac was in a good position to make investments that would produce higher returns on their revenue.
12. The Aflac Duck wasn't around until 1999
Those of us who love the Aflac Duck are surprised to learn that it wasn't around until 1999. The Duck is an important icon that stirs brand recognition almost immediately. The concept of the Duck is the creation of the Kaplan Thaler Group. They are a New York City advertising agency who first dreamed up the concept and sold it to the decision makers at Aflac. The famous duck that we see on television commercials comes from a supply of ducks that were raised at Metzer Farms in Gonzales, California.
13. The Duck Concept came in a surprising way
Here's a fun fact about the Aflac duck that we bet nobody knows about. The advertising agency in charge of developing a good strategy for the company was a bit stumped with how to approach the job. One of the art directors was sitting in Central Park during the lunch hour and when a duck inadvertently walked in front of him making a low quacking sound, it sounded like the bird was saying "Aflac, Aflac." This inspired the art director and it's very much the true story about the origins of the Aflac Duck.
14. They launched an educational campaign
Aflac saw the need to educate the public about the kinds of benefits that their products deliver. In 2009 they launched the campaign that was called "Get the Aflacts." The name was a good choice because it immediately caught the attention of the viewers so they would linger long enough to find out that there was interesting news about what they had to offer available. The campaign elevated the role of the duck in promoting the facts about Aflac and specific benefits that the policies delivered.
15. Aflac is endorsed by multiple celebrities
Throughout its history, Aflac has been represented to the public by several different celebrities. In 2001, Chevy Chase was a spokesperson and in 2005, celebrity personalities promoting Aflac were Melania Trump, Yao Ming and Yogi Berra. The synchronized Swimmers of the United States Olympic team were on board in 2004 and Wayne Newton also appeared in a commercial n 2003. The Aflac Duck has also made appearances with Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer, Wile E. Coyote, The Road Runner, Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck. Carl Edwards, Nascar Cup Series driver also represented Aflac between 2008 and 2014.
16. Gilbert Gottfried was the original voice for the Duck
Gilbert Gottfried supplied the voice for the Aflac duck for 11 years before he was fired from the job. The reason for his dismissal from the Aflac gig was because of some jokes that he had made on his Twitter account which were considered to be in poor taste. They were in reference to a major natural disaster when the earthquake and tsunami occurred. This went against the values of the company and many of their customers and associates in Japan didn't appreciate the comments, nor did they find them to be humorous. He was dismissed for this social faux pas.
17. Japan offers a dementia care policy
Aflac has been a company that has made a first in the history of Japan. They are the first company in the world to offer a dementia care policy. No other insurance company in the world offered this option at the time. They began offering the coverage in 1984 after they had been active in the country for a full decade. In fat, more than sixty percent of the total revenue of Aflac comes from its operations in Japan.
18. The Aflac Duck is in the Walk of Fame
Here's another great fact that we learned about Aflac. He is a celebrity for life who has gone down in history for his great contributions to pop culture. He has been enshrined on the walk of Fame on Madson Avenue as one of America's favorite and most beloved advertising icons. The majority of Americans love the duck.
19. Gottfried was replaced as the voice of the duck
After Gottfried was fired from his job as the voice of the Aflac Duck, the company began taking applications for his replacement. In 2011, Aflac announced that a television advertiser named Daniel McKeague, from Hugo, Minnesota would replace Gottfried. He made his debut on May 1 of 2011.
20. The Duck was a guest star
The famous Aflac Duck has made multiple appearances in a variety of shows. In a brilliant advertising move, he made it to the opening credits of a reboot of the kids' show DuckTales. This was from an animated ad that Aflac placed there in 2018. Aflac is ranked 137th in the Fortune 500 list of largest United States corporations by revenue
Critics of cancer policies
Consumer groups and some government officials say that cancer insurance returns fewer premium dollars to policyholders than standard insurance. A United States General Accounting Office study found that the policies paid back as little as 35% of premiums (Aflac said its cancer insurance paid back 62.4%). In comparison, New York State requires most major-medical policies to pay back 82% and group policies to pay back 75%. New York State does not allow stand-alone cancer policies. In 1997, AFLAC spent $175,000 on lobbyists and campaign contributions to change the law. New York State lifted its ban in 1998, for purchasers who already have basic coverage. Consumer Reports recommended that policyholders use the money instead to buy lower-deductible insurance. Insurance claims by line appear on the Annual Statement filed with each state. Loss claims are a percent of total premium before commissions.
Written by Dana Hanson
Read more posts by Dana Hanson