June 13, 2011

New Variable Annuities From The Hartford Offer Principal, Income Guarantees

Guaranteed minimum accumulation benefits ‘fill the void’ in the industry

The Hartford announced Monday that it was launching a suite of variable annuities with personal protection options.

The products are focused on investors’ key needs, Steve Kluever, head of product development and marketing for The Hartford's global annuity division, told AdvisorOne.

First, he said, is principal protection. The Safety Plus option answers this need. Safety Plus is a 10-year guaranteed minimum accumulation benefit.

“A number of companies are pulling out of GMABs and focusing on GMWBs,” Kluever said. “We saw an opportunity to fill the void.”

If at the end of 10 years, Kluever said, the value of the annuity is less than the principal paid, The Hartford will guarantee the difference. Furthermore, investors who transfer to the annuity’s Personal Pension Account will receive a 20% income bonus.

A second need, according to Kluever, is that of guaranteed income. The Future5 option is a lifetime guaranteed minimum withdrawal benefit that offers, as the name implies, a 5% deferral bonus at age 65. Future6, another lifetime guaranteed minimum withdrawal benefit, offers a 6% deferral bonus.

The Future options invest 50% in equity portfolios, while the remainder is invested in a diversified fund with three “sleeves,” Kluever said. Among those sleeves are equities, with a 20% allocation, fixed income with a 40% allocation and finally the futures, options and cash sleeve with a 40% allocation.

“People are really looking to minimize downside as opposed to maximizing upside,” Kluever said. “These options are intended to have performance negatively correlated to equities to bring down the volatility of portfolios.

“Across wealth management, we want to help customers in their pursuit of security in retirement. Growing our annuity business is an important component of that strategy,” David Levenson, president of wealth management at The Hartford, said in a press release.

“Even as the investment markets continue to rebound, our clients remain worried about meeting their basic retirement needs,” Rob Arena, executive vice president of The Hartford’s global annuity business, said in a press release. “Investment risk, longevity risk and the fear of running out of money are top-of-mind and The Hartford has enhanced its offering to help address these concerns.”

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