NU Online News Service, March 15, 2004, 11:22 a.m. EST – Standard Insurance Company, Portland, Ore., is using a special feature to increase initial rates on a new fixed deferred annuity.[@@]

Customers who buy Standard’s new Focused Growth Annuity can choose between a 5-year and 6-year interest rate guarantee option.

For customers who choose the 5-year rate guarantee and pay at least $15,000 in premiums, the initial crediting rate is 3.5%.

For customers who choose the 6-year guarantee option and pay at least $15,000 in premiums, the initial crediting rate is 3.9%.

Standard, a unit of StanCorp Financial Group Inc., says it sweetened the initial crediting rates by using a market-value adjustment feature based on changes in U.S. Treasury yields. Standard will apply the adjustment only to withdrawals and surrenders taken during the annuity’s surrender period. The adjustment increases the initial crediting rate, but it could either raise or lower the annuity’s surrender value, Standard says.

Standard, which is responsible for backing the product guarantees, says it is guaranteeing that owners or beneficiaries will get at least 90% of the total premiums paid, less any previous withdrawals, during the surrender period.