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Insurers Add VA Withdrawal Benefits

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Phoenix Companies Inc. and ING USA Annuity and Life Insurance Company are expanding their menus of retirement income options.[@@]

Both companies have introduced new guaranteed minimum withdrawal benefit options.

Phoenix, Hartford, has introduced the Phoenix Lifetime GMWB rider, a rider that offers guaranteed access to minimum withdrawals for life.

Phoenix also has introduced the Phoenix Lifetime GMWB for 2 rider, a rider that extends the minimum withdrawal benefit to a surviving spouse.

Phoenix will sell the riders with most of its variable annuity contracts.

Phoenix notes that it also offers a traditional GMWB rider, a guaranteed minimum income benefit rider, and a guaranteed minimum accumulation benefit rider.

The new lifetime GMWB riders give clients the ability to start and stop withdrawals on their deferred variable annuities at any time, Phoenix says.

The annual guaranteed lifetime income is 5.25% of the initial premium, regardless of the investment performance of the annuity, with a minimum cumulative benefit of 105% of the initial premium, adjusted for excess withdrawals, Phoenix says.

When a client chooses the GMWB for 2 rider, the income stream will continue for the lifetime of the surviving spouse, Phoenix says.

Purchasers of the new riders can lock in any investment gains each year.

The other issuer, ING USA, West Chester, Pa., has introduced ING LifePay, an optional benefit available with the company’s ING GoldenSelect variable annuity contracts.

The new option guarantees lifetime access to minimum withdrawal benefits, according to ING USA, which is a unit of ING Groep N.V., Amsterdam.

The “guaranteed minimum withdrawal benefit for life” option, or GMWB-for-life option, guarantees annual withdrawals of up to 7% of premiums paid for as long as the annuity owner lives, ING USA says.

The option gives holders the ability to lock in increases based on account value once every quarter before withdrawals begin, ING USA says.

Option purchasers can invest in any of the ING GoldenSelect subaccounts, as long as 20% is invested in a designated fixed allocation fund.

The current designated fixed-allocation fund is the ING VP Intermediate Bond Portfolio.

A second option lets GMWB-for-life option purchasers invest annuity assets in one of several professionally managed “lifestyle” funds, which aims at investors with several different levels of risk tolerance.


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