Every time I have the opportunity to speak with our customers and producers in the field, I am reminded of the important role our products and services play in our clients’ lives. Of how much they value the peace of mind we give them because they can trust that Pan-American Life will be there to provide financial security at some of the most critical times in their lives. It is that purpose which guides us in our work every day and pushes us all to do better and make progress towards our goals; to continue delivering on that promise and supporting the communities in which we operate for years to come.
In 2019 we paid out more than $1.1 billion in benefits to our insureds and our legacy of service reached 75 years in Honduras and 80 years in Colombia. Having a solid financial foundation and achieving sustained growth in our business are essential elements for us to continue meeting our commitments to our customers and building mutually beneficial relationships with our business and community partners everywhere we operate.
With that in mind, I am extremely pleased to report that in 2019 PALIG achieved record levels for premium, pre-tax operating income and net income. Pre-Tax Operating Earnings grew to $109 million in 2019 with all business divisions posting strong results. GAAP revenues grew to $1.165 billion, compared to $1.1 billion in 2018. Sales improved to $658 million, up from $606 million in 2018, with Global Life sales up 15 percent. Net income increased to $90 million, compared to $66 million in the prior year. Total assets grew to $6.35 billion, compared to $5.94 billion in 2018, while total equity increased to $1.21 billion compared to $1.01 in the same period in 2018.
Our U.S. Life and Group businesses produced exceptional results in 2019 and product innovation continues to drive sales growth throughout the company. A good example of that is the introduction of Pan-American Global Assets IUL, our first-ever IUL product, which is now the best-selling product in our Life portfolio. Last year we also placed renewed emphasis on enhancing the Employee Benefits business in the U.S. and International, with very encouraging results. And the hard work we put over the past few years into optimizing our product pricing and introducing new term life and health products is now producing strong dividends.
In 2019 we also took an important step in our digital evolution with the addition of Miguel Edwards as PALIG’s new Chief Information Officer. Miguel will place special emphasis on continuing our digital transformation and modernization, keeping a pulse on emerging technologies and collaborating to support cyber security protocols.
Unfortunately, last year also witnessed the premature passing of Board member Dan Mulheran. Dan was an accomplished insurance industry professional and wonderful human being who provided valuable insight and counsel to our executive management team - and was taken from us all too soon. We will remember him fondly.
2019 marked a year of great progress that sets the foundation for 2020 and beyond. Our strategy will focus on accelerated U.S. growth, continued investment in technology and digital initiatives to improve the experience our customers and partners enjoy when conducting business with PALIG, enhancing our enterprise risk management process and the identification of opportunities in new sectors for business development.
Last year was also very special for me personally because it marked two important milestones in my career. I celebrated my 40th year working in the insurance industry and more importantly, my 15th year leading the PALIG organization.
Over those forty years I have learned to appreciate the great impact of the noble work we do and the difference we make in people’s lives throughout our entire value chain – from our insurance customers to our employees and business partners. I have also been fortunate to have built a treasure trove of long-lasting relationships with people who not only have made me a better professional, but also a better person. Among them I count the many mentors who supported me along the way and to whom I owe much of the success that I have achieved in the industry.
I have enjoyed every step of that long journey, but the past 15 years have been truly special. Taking what was then a small mutual insurance company that some considered had seen its best days and working with our great team to turn it into the large dynamic organization that PALIG is today far exceeded my expectations. We should all be proud of what we have collaboratively accomplished– six-fold growth in revenues; quadrupling of our equity; and a sustained track record of earnings growth.
I’ve also navigated through a number of crises over these 40 years, from Hurricane Andrew, 9/11 and Hurricane Katrina to the more recent 2008 financial crisis, but none like this pandemic. The Coronavirus, or COVID-19, had impacted more than 180 countries at the completion of our 2019 annual report. As we assess the impact this may have on the global economy, I want to assure you of PALIG’s financial strength. We are operationally prepared to service all claims and well equipped to deal with the uncertainty to mitigate business impact. We remain focused on our core insurance business and vigilant of market trends. We can confirm we have experienced no widespread losses or any impairment or valuation issues with regard to troubled securities. We will continue to practice sound asset management in order to safeguard the financial interest of our policyholders.
I am confident that together we will emerge from this crisis stronger, and with the wisdom to continue to achieve new heights in the years ahead.
José S. Suquet
Chairman of the Board, President & CEO
Pan-American Life Insurance Group