This excerpt taken from the PTA 10-K filed May 3, 2005.
We operate in a highly competitive industry. We believe that competition is based on a number of factors, including service, products, premiums, commission structure, financial strength, industry ratings and name recognition. We compete with a large number of national insurers, smaller regional insurers and specialty insurers, many of whom have considerably greater financial resources, higher ratings from A.M. Best and Standard and Poors and larger networks of agents than we do. Many insurers offer long-term care policies similar to those we offer and utilize similar marketing techniques. In addition, we are subject to competition from insurers with broader product lines. We also may be subject, from time to time, to new competition resulting from changes in Medicare benefits.
We also actively compete with other insurers in attracting and retaining agents to distribute our products. Competition for agents is based on quality of products, commission rates, underwriting, claims service and policyholder service. We continuously recruit and train independent agents to market and sell our products. We also engage field marketing organizations from time to time to recruit independent agents and develop networks of agents in various states. Our business and ability to compete may suffer if we are unable to recruit and retain insurance agents and if we lose the services provided by our field marketing organizations.
We also compete with non-insurance financial services companies such as banks, securities brokerage firms, investment advisors, mutual fund companies and other financial intermediaries marketing insurance products, annuities, mutual funds and other retirement-oriented investments. The ability of banks to affiliate with insurers may adversely affect our ability to remain competitive.
The insurance industry may undergo further change in the future and, accordingly, new products and methods of service may also be introduced. In order to keep pace with any new developments, we may need to expend significant capital to offer new products and to train our agents and employees to sell and administer these products and services. Our ability to compete with other insurers depends on our success in developing new products.