NU Online News Service, Nov. 15, 2004, 6:51 p.m. EST

A U.S. unit of Manulife Financial Corp., Toronto, is adding a fixed annuity that could be of special interest to healthy people who have a hard time qualifying for long term care insurance.[@@]

John Hancock Life Insurance Company, Boston, is expanding its Guaranteed Principal Annuity family of fixed annuities with the Guaranteed Principal Annuity Plus contract.

The new annuity offers a choice of 1-year, 3-year or 6-year rate guarantee periods along with “breakpoints” that can increase the guaranteed rate if a customer deposits more cash into a contract.

GPA Plus buyers can pay extra for the CARESolutions Plus Rider 2 option.

The optional rider can provide as much as $5,000 per month in long term care benefits for up to 36 months. The rider now includes a feature that will provide up to 3% in compound annual LTC inflation protection.

The cost of the rider is 0.4% of the initial premium each year, and the monthly benefit is equal to 1% of the initial investment amount. To get the maximum $5,000 monthly benefit, the customer would have to deposit $500,000, Hancock says.

Hancock pays the benefit to the annuity, and customers can withdraw this amount to pay for care expenses without paying withdrawal charges, Hancock says.

Hancock sells the LTC benefit with no underwriting, but customers must wait at least 6 years after a contract is issued and receive at least 100 days of long term care before they can draw on the benefit.

To qualify for benefits, customers must have cognitive impairment or be unable to perform 2 of 6 activities of daily living, such as bathing, dressing, eating, moving from bed to chair, toileting or maintaining continence.

For all customers under age 80 at time of issue, the GPA Plus contract offers toll-free access to the Seniorlink4 elder care provider network.

Hancock will be selling the new annuity through banks and advisors who belong to its Signator Financial Network.