The hallway chatter at insurance industry meetings is comparable to a high-end focus group.
True enough, some of the buzz may entail little more than titillating anecdotes, tall tales or too-unique-to-use strategies. But other parts of the buzz contain nuggets of incipient product trends or problems worth exploring.
The following are a few such nuggets gleaned from insurance industry meetings this fall, plus some thoughts on each.
–A few fixed indexed annuity carriers plan to bring out registered indexed annuities–and soon.
That’s right. Even as the FIA industry at large is seeking legislation to prevent their product from ever being classified as a security, some carriers are deciding to play it safe and have a product portfolio for all seasons, so to speak.
Does that mean these carriers believe the FIA product will eventually become a security? Not necessarily. It does mean that they plan to have a registered product ready if that event ever happens, just as the variable annuity carriers back in the late 1980s rolled out the modern version of VAs at a time when equities were out of favor, so they “could be ready when the market turns up.”
It also means that these carriers are thinking they just might pick up some registered indexed annuity sales from broker-dealers right now. These would be B-D firms that just don’t want to continue keeping tabs on reps who are handling fixed indexed annuities–i.e. to be sure those sales are in compliance with FINRA Notice 05-50 regarding indexed annuity sales in the B-D environment.
–Whole life is once again selling well.
The uptick by no means represents a tidal wave. But the sales are definitely turning heads.
That’s according to the hallway chatter and also according to some recent industry statistics. In particular, researchers at LIMRA, Windsor, Conn., recently reported that individual WL sales “surged” by 12% in the third quarter 2009 compared to the same year earlier period.
This happened even as sales in other life products declined to the point that total individual life sales fell 11% in the quarter, year over year.
Considering that individual WL has been widely viewed as a little-noticed niche product for the past two decades at least, it’s easy to see why people are talking about its seeming renaissance.