A variable annuity writer says many competitors are increasing the cost of VA benefits guarantee riders or making the guarantees less generous.

Symetra Life Insurance Company, a unit of Symetra Financial Corp., Bellevue, Wash., looked at VA guaranteed living benefits riders from 10 large U.S. VA providers.

Between May 1, 2008, and May 1, 2009, 9 of the 10 providers increased fees on “multiple” VA guarantee riders, and 8 discontinued at least one VA guaranteed living benefit rider, Symetra says.

“We are clearly witnessing a significant trend towards less flexibility and higher fees within some of the most common VA riders,” Pat McCormick, a senior vice president at Symetra Life, says in a statement about the rider review.

Symetra says it has held the cost of its own VA income guarantee rider steady and also has maintained the same level of benefits.