NU Online News Service, Nov. 1, 2004, 4:18 p.m. EST

Hartford Financial Services Group Inc., Hartford, is adding an income-protection rider for variable annuity holders.[@@]

The new Hartford Principal First Preferred rider lets VA holders withdraw up to 5% of their premium payments each year, even if their account values have declined. The annual cost of that rider amounts to 0.2% of the account value. Customers who buy the preferred rider can cancel it after 5 years if they decide they no longer need it.

The older rider, the Principal First rider, has a 0.5% annual cost, but it lets annuity holders withdraw as much as 7% of their premiums each year, Hartford says.

Hartford will offer both riders to purchasers of all of its variable annuities.

Hartford issues the annuities through its Hartford Life Insurance Company and Hartford Life and Annuity Insurance Company units, which are both based in Simsbury, Conn. The life units are responsible for backing the product guarantees.