NU Online News Service, April 20, 2005, 5:21 p.m. EDT

Symetra Life Insurance Company is increasing the guaranteed minimum renewal rate available through its custom fixed annuity contracts.[@@]

The Redmond, Wash., insurer started out as the life insurance arm of Safeco Corp., Seattle. A group of investors bought it away from Safeco and set it apart as a separate company in July 2004.

Symetra now says it will be offering a guaranteed minimum renewal rate of 2% to purchasers of its custom fixed annuities, up from a minimum renewal rate of 1.5% available through the old contract.

Symetra also is offering 1.5% in extra interest on the entire purchase amount up to $50,000 and 2% in extra interest if the purchase price is over $50,000.

Before, the first-year boost was 1% for any purchase price under $25,000 and rose to 2% only if the purchase price was over $100,000.

Annuity buyers can choose from an interest rate guarantee period of 1 year, 3 years or 5 years, and the minimum interest rate while the 7-year surrender charge schedule is in effect is 2%, Symetra says.