The New York State Department of Financial Services says a company needs to handle pension risk transfer business in New York state through its New York state subsidiary, not through insurance companies based in other states.
The department has underscored that point by imposing a $45 million fine on Athene Annuity and Life Company and Athene Annuity’s parent, Athene Holding Ltd.
Athene Holding is based in Pembroke, Bermuda, and Athene Annuity is based in Iowa.
New York officials say Athene made 14 pension risk transfer deals that affected 6,394 New York state residents, and that it used an insurance company based outside of New York to handle relationships with those New York state residents.
- A link to the new pension risk transfer consent order is available here.
- An article about New York’s pension risk transfer circular letter is available here.
“An unauthorized insurer may not make telephone calls, provide access to web portals (save for limited circumstances…), or engage in any other manner of communication with any person in New York from outside New York, other than by mail (including email),” according to a consent order signed by New York department officials and Athene representatives. “In addition, an unauthorized life insurer may not solicit, negotiate, or sell group annuity contracts (“GACs”) through in-person meetings, telephone calls, mail, emails, access to web portals, or any other form of communication from a location in New York.”
Athene has agreed to handle New York state pension plan participants through a subsidiary based in New York state, Athene Annuity & Life Assurance Company of New York, according to the consent order.
Linda Lacewell, New York’s superintendent, said in a statement about the consent order that enforcing the restrictions on unauthorized insurers helps the state protect retirement investments.
“Unlicensed insurance activity puts retirement assets at risk, and that’s why we won’t tolerate it,” Lacewell said.
Lacewell issued a circular letter discussing New York’s ban on unauthorized insurers in September.
Athene said in a statement about the consent agreement that it’s pleased to resolve the matter with the New York department, and it noted that it’s already disclosed the matter to investors in filings.
“We worked collaboratively with the [New York department] to address their concerns, which also relate to the industry at-large, and with mutually agreed upon guidelines for structuring transactions, we are confident in our ability to continue operating as one of the leaders in the pension risk transfer industry,” Athene said. “Pension participants covered by Athene in New York state and elsewhere have received, and will continue to fully receive, all contractual payments and benefits. By expanding into new markets and continuing to provide risk transfer solutions for plan sponsors, Athene has made a long-term commitment to the [pension risk transfer] business.”
Athene is serving about 180,000 pension plan participants globally, and it expects to serve tens of thousands more retirees in the future, the company said.
— Read New York Imposes $19.75 Million in Fines in Pension Risk Transfer Case, on ThinkAdvisor.