Thinking About Buying A Variable Annuity? Take Advantage of Current Features Before May

While the value of a variable annuity has sunk along with the stock market, it may actually be a good idea to purchase one soon if you're interested. Marc Ruiz in the Chicago Post-Tribune points out that the variable annuities currently on the market filed their contracts with regulatory agencies last May, before the current financial crisis. Federal law prohibits insurers from deviating from that contract during the regulatory year, and existing investors will not be subject to the changes... Read More

Prudential Expands, Improves Highest Daily Lifetime 7 Plus Income Guarantee

Prudential has made improvements to its optional Highest Daily Lifetime 7 Plus variable annuity rider, in addition to expanding its availability to investors 45 and older. According to the Retirement Income Reporter, the Highest Daily Lifetime 7 Plus option is a minimum income guarantee that locks in the highest daily value occuring during the annuity's life. Until lifetime income starts, that value will grow by a 7% compound rate annually. Another new feature of this product is that if no... Read More

Suitability Rule for Variable Annuities from FINRA

Investment News'  Darla Mercado recently gave an update on how the annuity industry is dealing with a new rule. Last year, the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) passed Rule 2821, a suitability rule in order to ensure that variable annuities are sold to the appropriate investors. Provisions in the rule include:suitability checks (i.e. liquidity needs, taxes, client's assets) formal supervisory systems principal review for all regulated transactionsSome smaller... Read More

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

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