About 96% of the variable annuity contracts marketed in the United States now come with living benefits guarantees.

Consultants at Milliman Inc., Seattle, have published that figure in a summary of results from a survey of 21 large U.S. variable annuity issuers.

The latest data in the summary comes from a survey conducted in the first half of 2008.

The percentage of VA sales involving contracts that offer GLB guarantees was 87% of total VA sales back in 2004, the Milliman consultants report.

The percentage of annuity holders who elected the guarantees that were offered increased to 69% in the first half of 2008, from 52% in 2004.

When the consultants looked at different types of guarantees, they found that election rates for guaranteed lifetime withdrawal benefits have increased to 93%, from 61%, for VA contracts that come with GLWB options.

Election rates have fallen to 14%, from 25% in 2004, for contracts that come with guaranteed minimum withdrawal benefits, the Milliman consultants write.

Guaranteed minimum income benefit election rates have fallen to 25%, from 49%, and guaranteed minimum accumulation benefit election rates have fallen to 10%, from 21%.

The Milliman consultants also asked about topics such as investments, exercise rates, product design issues, and pricing and hedging.
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