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Death Benefits & Tax Deferred Growth

While demand for variable annuities is still very high, many insurers are stepping back from them quite a bit.  According to Investment News’s Darla Mercado in the article “VA carriers hunkering down,” life insurers have had a hard time hedging their variable annuities with living benefits.  Stock market volatility and low interest rates are making it expensive for insurers to offer variable annuities.  Genworth Financial stopped selling annuities at the beginning of 2011 and Sun Life Financial stopped their sales earlier this month.  Some of the biggest companies; like Jackson National, MetLife, and Prudential Financial; have stopped offering some of their living benefits and started using less risky investment options.

John Hancock Life plans to stop selling a lot of their annuity products as well as limiting their distribution channels.  As more companies do the same, there will be less competition in the industry and prices could rise.  Most advisors still send their clients to the top three sellers, MetLife, Jackson and Prudential.  There may be more room for the smaller companies in the future.  If living benefits drop below 5%, many advisors will be playing up the tax deferred growth benefit of variable annuities.  With fewer living benefits offered, advisors will go back to the root benefits of variable annuities, death benefits and tax deferred growth.  One advisor believes that 2013 will see a big focus on those benefits over the living benefits of variable annuities.

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