Life insurers are in wait-and-see mode as to whether they will need to ask for help through the TARP Capital Purchase Program, according to a Dow Jones Newswire report Thursday.

The news service says if the S&P 500 stock index does well in the coming days, life insurers might avoid huge so-called deferred-acquisition-cost charges, or DAC, on their variable annuity holdings, which could make the difference for some.

“Falling equity markets trigger capital-depleting DAC charges to cover expected commission and fee costs for variable annuity accounts. If markets are seen to be rising, insurers can spread the costs over a longer period,” according to Dow Jones.

Federal aid is a credit line insurers won’t use “unless they have no other choice,” Hubert Mueller, a principal with Towers Perrin, an insurance consultant, told Dow Jones, who added insurers may look at April’s S&P rise and skip a DAC charge for the quarter.

The most thinly capitalized insurers will still go for TARP capital, even if they skip the charge, but better-capitalized insurers may say no, Mueller said.