NU Online News Service, Dec. 18, 2003, 5:05 p.m. EST – John Hancock Financial Services Inc., Boston, says its life insurance unit has introduced Performance UL Core, a universal life insurance policy.[@@]

Many life insurers have responded to the recent slump in U.S. interest rates by lobbying states to reduce minimum policy returns below 3%. But Hancock guarantees that it will apply a minimum rate of 3% to the policy value for the life of the contract.

The company is offering businesses a rider that will increase the cash value of the policy in early years.

Hancock is offering individuals the LifeCare Benefit rider, which uses accelerated death benefits to pay for long term care, along with the new LifeCare Benefit Max rider. The new rider will continue benefits even after the policy’s full death benefit has been accelerated, Hancock says.

When a consumer who buys the new rider exhausts the original accelerated death benefits, the policy will pay an extra amount for long term care that will equal the policy’s initial death benefit, Hancock says.

Hancock also is offering a choice of disability riders that can pay the policy premium if the insured becomes disabled.

Hancock will issue the policy to applicants from age 0 to age 90.

Underwriting classes include a super preferred non-tobacco class along with a preferred tobacco class for smokers who are otherwise are in good health.