When it comes to accepting bailout funds, life insurers are dividing into two camps: those gobbling up taxpayers’ cash and those who may no longer need it, thanks to a partial recovery in the stock market. Those companies in the later category include Ameriprise, while Prudential, Principal Financial and Allstate are still deciding whether to accept government assistance from TARP, the program designed to assist cash-strapped banks. In the other camp, Hartford Financial and Lincoln Financial may receive $3.4 billion and $2.5 billion, respectively. They join AIG, which had been the only insurer to receive a cash infusion. That company received $180 billion to offset derivatives loses. Just as some banks are rejecting aid due to restrictions on spending and compensation, insurance companies are being included for consideration. Recent weak financial markets and higher annuity costs have hurt life insurers. ACLI president Frank Keating released a statement characterizing the extension of TARP funds to insurers as “the right step toward helping restore lending and liquidity in the marketplace.”
The deal involves $1.7 billion in fixed annuity account balances.
The maximum death benefit is $300,000.
As average fees fall toward zero, “It could actually backfire” for asset managers, says an analyst at Bloomberg Intelligence.
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