Annuity News: Year in Review

Annuities were a hot topic in financial news this year. According to a recent InsuranceNewsNet article both lawsuits and regulation were the most-read annuity stories, but annuity sales, rankings and other topics drew attention too. Here’s a look at the top-viewed annuity news from 2019.

  1. AIG Retakes Top Spot in LIMRA 2018 Annuity Sales Rankings

The January 2019 story revealed that for the first time in over a decade, AIG Companies were the top seller of annuities. The top five sellers in 2018, representing 32% of market share were AIG Companies, Jackson National Life, New York Life, Lincoln Financial Group and Allianz Life of North America. 

2. What If The Market Goes Up? Why An FIA Is Better Than Stocks

Sean A. Ruggiero, president and founder of SafeMoneySmart.org, explained how fixed indexed annuities win over stocks in this January 2019 story. 

“FIAs guarantee that the principal will never receive negative interest crediting due to market decline. What do mutual funds guarantee? Many mutual funds only guarantee fees, such as annual expense ratios and 12b-1 fees, but I’ve never seen a mutual fund guarantee that it won’t lose value in a down market.” 

3. NAIC Regulators Move Annuity Sales Model Forward

The Life Insurance and Annuities Committee recently met in Austin at the NAIC Fall Meeting. Here, the committee tentatively adopted a new annuity sales model that adds a best-interest standard to all annuity sales. The group worked on the model for more than 18 months. 

4. Class-Action Suit Targets Security Benefit’s Proprietary Index 

Three consumers filed a class-action lawsuit against Security Benefit Life Insurance Co, alleging the group defrauded consumers by implementing a “fraudulent scheme” involving a proprietary index used in two fixed indexed annuities. 

The plaintiffs filed the suit in October claiming the company misrepresented returns, but later asked the court to terminate the lawsuit. 

5. Regulator Calls For ‘A Total Rework’ Of Key NAIC Illustration Guide

Changes to Actuarial Guideline 49 were considered after the release of new IUL products featuring “multipliers” or “bonuses.” Several conference calls on the topic were held in 2019 by the National Association of Insurance Commissioners’ subgroup, which produced highly charged comments, including one from a New York regulator calling for a total rework on the illustration model.

“We have consumers out there being misled by these illustrations,” said James Regalbuto, deputy superintendent for life insurance at the New York Department of Financial Services. “They’re fixed life insurance products showing rates of return that rival securities and I think we fail to appreciate how defective AG 49 is currently. None of the assumptions that underpin AG 49 really hold any water.”  

AG 49 was finalized in 2015 to provide insurance carriers a more uniform method for calculating maximum illustrated rates on IUL products.

Written by Rachel Summit

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