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AmeriLife continues aggressive expansion phase with acquisition of Nashville firm

Brian Hartz

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AmeriLife Group chairman and CEO Scott Perry. Photo courtesy of AmeriLife.

The wheeling and dealing continues for AmeriLife Group LLC. The Clearwater-based annuity, health and life insurance marketer and distributor has acquired Senior Market Advisors, headquartered in Nashville. 

The deal — announced on Thursday — marks the 25th acquisition for AmeriLife over the past 18 months or so, according to chairman and CEO Scott Perry. The privately held company does not disclose financial terms of its acquisitions, but Perry said the addition of SMA ranks among the top five biggest deals it’s pulled off since entering an aggressive growth-by-acquisition phase. It also fills a gap in AmeriLife’s value offering. 

“Our M&A strategy and philosophy,” Perry said, “is to look for new skills or capabilities that can be additive.”

SMA, founded in 2007, has a multifaceted business model that combines a traditional agency platform with a call center and support system for independent brokerages and agents. 

“They have a really interesting business that’s just launching,” Perry said. “It works with health plans and with provider groups to serve as kind of a patient liaison.” 

Perry said it’s quite common in the managed-care industry for consumers to go to doctors and health professionals for advice about what insurance products to buy.

“There’s just a lot of questions,” he said, “And because physicians are so trusted, a lot of consumers want to go to them, but the reality is that the physicians and their staff are really ill-equipped to answer those questions.” 

SMA’s approach helps solve that problem, he said. “They have built a business that allows [health care] provider groups to outsource that service.” 

It’s a strategy that has helped SMA grow its footprint to 43 states in just 13 years, according to a press release. During that time, the company has increased the number of agencies and agents it serves by 60 percent, and it’s landed on the Inc. 5000 list of fastest-growing private companies several times.

“We are committed to developing pioneering technologies that empower our insurance agent partners to exceed their clients’ needs,” SMA CEO Jeff Pitta stated in the release. “This partnership with AmeriLife enables us to reach more agents and agencies and accomplish more than we ever could on our own.”

The deal comes at a momentous time for AmeriLife, which in 2021 will celebrate 50 years in business. With the addition of SMA, its distribution network now includes more than 200,000 agents nationwide, more than 60 insurance agency offices and more than 35 affiliate locations. 

Pitta and SMA’s senior leadership team will remain with the company and have a minority ownership stake in AmeriLife Group, Perry said. SMA will retain its name and branding and continue to operate in Nashville, and there will be no employee layoffs as a result of the acquisition. “As a matter of fact,” Perry said, “we’ll probably be adding some teams.” 

SMA, meanwhile, plans to spread the wealth from its deal with AmeriLife. According to the release, it will reinvest $10 million in its agency partners, with the goal of helping them continue to grow their businesses. 

 

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