First Greater Des Moines had the Southwest Effect with airlines. Now, perhaps it's seeing the "Fidelity Effect" when it comes to insurers.
Symetra Financial Corp., a life insurer based in Bellevue, Wash., announced Tuesday that it plans to open a Des Moines office by midyear and change the legal jurisdiction of its principal life insurance subsidiary, Symetra Life Insurance Co., from Washington to Iowa.
"After much consideration, our decision to change Symetra Life Insurance Co.'s state of incorporation was driven by a complex, challenging and quickly changing regulatory environment," said Tom Marra, president and CEO of Symetra Financial Corp., in a release.
The announcement comes on the heels of last week's formal opening of the Des Moines headquarters of Fidelity & Guaranty Life Insurance Co., which relocated its base of operations from Baltimore.
Symetra does not plan to relocate its corporate headquarters from Washington, however. It employs approximately 900 people at its home office in Bellevue.
The company said it anticipates hiring between 20 and 40 employees for its Des Moines office over the next two to four years as it grows.
"We believe that the redomestication will further our efforts to grow and to diversify Symetra's product portfolio and risk profile, by permitting the company to take advantage of the state-of-the-art statutes and regulations governing the life insurance industry in Iowa, where some of the industry's biggest players are domiciled," Marra said.
Symetra, which has about $29.8 billion in assets, offers life insurance and employee benefits and specializes in selling fixed indexed and deferred annuities through banks.
The company also announced its intention to file an application to redomesticate a smaller life insurance subsidiary, Symetra National Life Insurance Co., to Iowa in the coming weeks.
Being in Iowa will provide a "level playing field" with rivals related to reserves, accounting and reinsurance rules, Diana McSweeney, a Symetra spokeswoman, told Bloomberg.