Standard-Examiner

Great Western Insurance being sold to Iowa company

Friday , January 12, 2018 - 5:15 AM

MARK SAAL, Standard-Examiner Staff

OGDEN — Great Western Insurance Company, a subsidiary of Lindquist Mortuaries and Cemeteries, is being sold to an insurance holding company in Des Moines, Iowa.

Great Western, which sells insurance and annuities to fund pre-arranged funeral plans, was founded by John E. Lindquist in 1983. The company is being purchased by American Republic Insurance Company, a subsidiary of American Enterprise Group, Inc. Pending regulatory approval, the sale is expected to be finalized Jan. 18.

Lindquist says there were several reasons for the sale.

“But the main reason? I’m just shy of 70 years old,” he said. “And while we’ve had a lot of fun, and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed doing what we did (with the insurance company), I wanted to spend more time with our mortuaries.”

Great Western currently employs 121 people in its home office in Ogden and another 15,000 contract employees in 46 states and the District of Columbia. Lindquist said he expected it to be business-as-usual for Great Western after it changes hands.

“The company is staying here, in the Lindquist office building — for, probably, forever,” he said. “There’s no name change, no job changes, nothing changes.”

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Lindquist said negotiations with AEG had been going on for several months.

“They’ve always wanted to be in the pre-need market, and this is their opportunity,” Lindquist said. “AEG is in the senior market, but they’ve never had a pre-need company.”

Capital and surplus are what drives an insurance company, according to Lindquist, and with AEG’s larger size Great Western should be able to achieve an A rating in the industry.

“They have a great deal more capital, and capital and surplus is what runs an insurance company,” Lindquist said. “We’ve struggled to get an A rating — we’re a B-double-plus — and they’ll be able to put more capital into it.”

In a news release, AEG Chief Executive Officer Tom Swank praised Great Western for being continually ranked as one of the top pre-need insurance companies in the country.

“Great Western Insurance Company possesses the strong reputation, earnings history, distribution channels, and similar values to make an excellent addition to our family of companies,” Swank said in the release. “We are always looking for growth opportunities to expand our business, and with the many synergies between our two organizations, this acquisition is very logical. Together, we are more diversified and better positioned for the future.”

The AEG news release said “key leaders” at Great Western would be retained “to ensure a smooth transition.”

Contact Mark Saal at 801-625-4272 or msaal@standard.net.  Follow him on Twitter at @Saalman. Friend him on Facebook at Facebook.com/MarkSaal.