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Hartford Financial President Steps Down

Hartford Financial's president and COO, Thomas Marra, is planning to retire, reports Diane Levick in the Hartford Courant. Marra was instrumental in building the firm's business in variable annuities, but the current stock market slump has hurt insurance companies, such as Hartford, that heavily rely on those products. Hartford is now taking heavy losses from the guaranteed minimum income benefits attached to those variable annuities, which they are still liable for. Marra will step down in... Read More

New Vanguard Variable Annuity With Guaranteed Lifetime Withdrawal Benefit Coming Soon

According to the Retirement Income Reporter, Vanguard is planning to launch a new variable annuity that features a guaranteed lifetime withdrawal benefit. The firm has filed an application with the Security and Exchange Commission for their approval. The GLWB rider is expected to have a 1% fee, although exact fees and payout rates are unknown. Vanguard claims that this new annuity will be like its no-load, no surrender-fee variable annuity, except with a lifetime income benefit tacked... Read More

Moody’s To Lower Hartford Financial’s Ratings

MarketWatch reports that Moody's has lowered its ratings for Hartford Financial. The annuity provider's life insurance business was downgraded to A1. This means Hartford no longer is high-credit-quality. Future downgrades could be forthcoming, since Moody's also has a negative outlook for Hartford. A Hartford representative blames the credit crunch for making it harder to hedge against future losses in variable... Read More

Hartford To Launch Variable Annuity With Lifetime Benefit in May

An article in the Retirement Income Reporter states that this May, Hartford Financial is planning to launch a new variable annuity product with a guaranteed lifetime benefit. While a lifetime benefit can be quite appealing to individuals nearing retirement, there is a catch in this offering. Hartford has also announced that in order to keep costs low enough to appeal to consumers, this annuity will have some "constrained features"; said constraints are unknown at this point. These limits... Read More

New Investment Fund Added to Pacific Life Variable Annuities

Pacific Life and GEAM are collaborating on a variable annuity product for the first time. As of February 1st, Pacific Life has begun to offer the GE Investments Total Return Fund in its variable annuity platform, according to a press release. The fund from GE Asset Management Inc. is intended for investors who are looking for a long term, transparent product that seeks the highest total return with prudent investment risks. Such a product seems to fit the needs of baby boomers close to... Read More

A.M. Best Downgrades Nationwide Rating

A recent press release by A.M. Best announces that they have revised their rating of Nationwide Financial Services to negative. Nationwide's rating had been stable. A.M. Best says that the downgrade are is largely due to the fact that the firm's financial performance is heavily based on the equity markets. Its products include variable annuities and variable life insurance, the former of which has been hit severely by the stock market's fall. Nationwide's line of variable annuities is... Read More

New York Life Sells Over $1 Billion Of Income Annuities in 2008

The Retirement Income Reporter recently published an article highlighting New York Life Insurance Company's selling a total of $1.2 billion of income annuities during 2008.  About $850 million was sold through New York Life's own career agency. Over $100 million worth of AARP Lifetime Income annuity programs, which are provided by the company, were sold. Another $350 million of annuities were sold through partnerships with... Read More

Tips for Buying Annuities from Money Magazine

Walter Updegrave, editor of Money magazine, recently wrote about the conventional wisdom of annuities being a safer investment and wondered if that is still true today. He believes that an annuity continues to be a good option, but that you need to keep several guidelines in mind when you compare annuities. Number one on your checklist is to make sure that the insurer you buy your annuity from is healthy and solvent. If an insurance company fails, you will lose whatever money you put in it.... Read More

Kiplinger’s: Don’t Cash Out Money-Losing Variable Annuities

Kimberly Lankford from Kiplinger's has some advice for people who are considering cashing out their variable annuities that have lost money over the past few years: don't, especially if your variable annuity has an income guarantee. When you cash out a variable annuity with a guaranteed minimum income benefit, you are only entitled to the current value of your investment; whereas if you keep it, you have the right to a yearly withdrawal of your initial investment (or even a percentage of the... Read More

Kiplinger’s: Don’t Worry About AIG Annuities

In Kiplinger's Personal Finance magazine, Kimberly Lankford advised individuals with annuities or life insurance policies from AIG to sit tight. Despite the well-publicized struggles of its other divisions, the life insurance subsidiaries are mostly unaffected and currently have an A rating from A.M. Best (under review with negative implications).  State capital requirements mean that AIG has enough money in reserve to pay claims. Variable annuities from AIG (e.g. the Vanguard variable... Read More

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