Close Close
Popular Financial Topics Discover relevant content from across the suite of ALM legal publications From the Industry More content from ThinkAdvisor and select sponsors Investment Advisor Issue Gallery Read digital editions of Investment Advisor Magazine Tax Facts Get clear, current, and reliable answers to pressing tax questions
Luminaries Awards

Life Health > Health Insurance

'Annuity' : The New 4-Letter Word?

Your article was successfully shared with the contacts you provided.

“Moderate-growth monthly income generator.”

“Slightly illiquid higher-return retirement vehicle.”



Sorry, just playing around. Because if you take stock in surveys (and we all know I do), it looks like consumers aren’t all that into the word “annuity” – but they’re very much into what an annuity does.

In May, Allianz ran an informal online survey in which 80 percent of respondents said they’d prefer ”a product with 4 percent return and a guarantee against losing value over a product with 8 percent return and subject to market risk.” Fifty-six percent chose an annuity when only given the description of what it would do – moderate growth opportunity, monthly income, but limited access to the lump sum – over a similar vehicle that’s completely liquid but may run out of money.

Those with assets between $300,000 and $500,000 felt even more strongly about the “annuitylike” product: Seventy-seven percent preferred it to the latter option.

Which sounds great! It’s what we’ve known all along, right? People love annuities – especially people with money.

Not so fast, though. Seems as if consumers, when faced with the actual A-word, slam on the brakes: In the same survey, 54 percent of Americans aged 44-75 expressed a distaste for the actual word “annuity.”

Makes me wonder if there are other words the industry uses that are holding it back. “Critical illness” sounds so dire, doesn’t it? “Critical” makes me feel as if I’m being rushed into something. “Illness” just makes me feel sick. What about… “Lump sum diagnosis-triggered bill payment enabler”?

Now, about “disability income insurance.” First of all, I don’t really get it. Is it insurance against (or for) disability income? If so, what does that even mean? And then again, there’s this big mean word in there: DISABILITY. Too much negativity.


What about… “Paycheck protection vehicle.”

Yeahhhh. That’s better.

And of course, there’s health insurance. So many negative connotations – and so politically controversial! No, no. Instead, let’s call it … “High-cost highly-selective limited-provision medical payment provider.”

Oh. That’s not really much better, is it? Plus soon enough, it won’t be accurate, right? Everybody will have health insurance, and it’ll be affordable for everybody, and everybody will be healthy and happy!

So, we’ll call it, “Fantastyland.”

But seriously. Removing my firmly planted tongue-in-cheek – Allianz never suggested we change the name of an annuity. Instead, their survey seemed to suggest a lot more education can be done on the role an annuity can play in a consumer’s portfolio. As Allianz CEO Gary C. Bhojwani said, “The 401(k) industry did a great job of teaching consumers about mutual funds to save for retirement Now we need the same type of concerted education effort on annuities and how they can help Americans when they are in retirement.”

But if all else fails, insurance industry, will you at least bookmark my blog post? I’m available for brand consulting on the side.


© 2024 ALM Global, LLC, All Rights Reserved. Request academic re-use from All other uses, submit a request to [email protected]. For more information visit Asset & Logo Licensing.