Viewed historically, growth followed a number of innovations and management decisions. Expanding from life insurance, American Family Life pioneered cancer insurance in 1958. Over the years the company added policies to cover accidents, disability, dental work, specified health events, hospital confinement, hospital intensive care, and long-term care.
Beginning in 1964 the company decided to focus sales on worksite settings. By 2003 more than 98 percent of the company's policies were issued on a payroll-deduction basis, making Aflac the U.S. leader in that sales approach. The decision to sell insurance internationally grew from John Amos's 1970 visit to the Osaka World's Fair in Japan. In 1974 the American Family Life Assurance Company of Columbus, as it was then known, became the first U.S. company to sell insurance in Japan after the Allied occupation following World War II (1941-45). For eight years the company monopolized Japan's cancer insurance market. By 1994, twenty years after the company entered the Japanese market, its cancer life policy covered one out of four Japanese households.
A New Name and a Duck
In 1973 American Family Life established a holding company, the American Family Corporation. In 1989 the holding company adopted a new trade name, Aflac. American Family Life had been unofficially calling itself Aflac since 1988. The name change set the company apart from the many others that included the word "American" in their names. Advertising campaigns of the 1990s dramatically increased name recognition of Aflac. In 2000 the company initiated an advertising campaign featuring a duck, which has become well known.
From 1992 to 2002 Aflac's net income grew on average more than 20 percent annually, with single-year sales surpassing $1 billion in 2002. Annual revenues for 2003 exceeded $11.4 billon, and total assets exceeded $50 billion. By 2003 Aflac had become Japan's leading life insurance company in terms of individual policies, the largest foreign insurer when measured by premium income, and the second most profitable foreign company operating in Japan. A major portion of Aflac's current sales are in Japan.
Community Contributions and Corporate Work Environment
A Family-Run Company
Best's Insurance Reports: Life-Health, United States and Canada (Oldwick, N.J.: A. M. Best, annual).
Hoover's Handbook of American Business, 2002 (Austin, Tex.: Hoover's Business Press, 2002).
Mergent's Bank and Finance Manual, 2003 (New York: Mergent, Inc., 2002).
Seymour Shubin, The Man from Enterprise: The Story of John B. Amos, Founder of AFLAC (Macon, Ga.: Mercer University Press, 1998).
Lennet Daigle, San Diego, California
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