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Primerica

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Overview: Founded in 1977, Primerica specializes selling in term life insurance, policies offering coverage only for a set time period. Term life is an attractive option for cost-conscious consumers, especially those seeking coverage only until their children reach adulthood and become financially self-sufficient.

Primerica is noted for having the largest sales force in the life insurance industry, at about 92,000 insurance sales agents as of 2011. Many of these agents are part-timers.

While term life is its core offering, though Primerica also has expanded into other product categories such as long term care insurance and prepaid legal services.

Primerica was acquired by Citigroup founder Sanford Weill in 1988. Though Primerica was spun off in a 2010 IPO, Citigroup retains a 23% stake as of 2011.

Job Openings: See this list of current job openings.

Primerica Sales Force Controversy: Primerica trains a huge number of insurance sales agents. According to The Wall Street Journal ("Insurer With Failing Agent Trainees Pushes to Weaken Tests," 4/25/2011), about 900,000 went through its training program in the five years from 2005 through 2010, roughly 43 times the number at New York Life, itself one of the largest insurers in the U.S. In 2010 alone, 230,000 were trained by Primerica, but only about 20% became licensed.

The same article notes that, unlike most of its competitors, which have demand certain minimum credentials in education and experience among their trainee insurance agents, Primerica does not. Instead, Primerica accepts virtually anyone without a criminal record who is willing to pay a $99 fee for training and licensing costs. Critics contend that the below average pass rates experienced by Primerica trainees on state licensing exams reflect the low average quality of their recruits. Primerica has responded by lobbying state insurance regulators to simplify their tests, contending that many of them are poorly worded, unduly difficult and/or biased against minorities.

Against this background, a major concern for a highly qualified applicant considering a sales position at Primerica is the reputational risk that may result. Likewise, careers in compliance at a company like Primerica can be challenging, since quality problems with the sales force are bound to result in above-average legal and regulatory problems.

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