In highlights from a recent “First Monday” program, A.M. Best Assistant Vice President Rosemarie Mirabella and Financial Analyst Frank Walko discuss evolving fixed- indexed annuity (FIA) product designs and the blurring of lines between FIAs and variable annuities.

Recently, A.M. Best conducted a survey of the top 10 FIA writers, which represents roughly 70% of the overall market. Ms. Mirabella says, “The fixed annuity market is a growing and increasingly more popular market of the annuity market. Sales levels are almost about $50 billion on an annual basis, with a sort of blurring of the lines of distinction between the fixed annuity and the variable annuity markets.”

“The FIAs are usually based off of some form of index, Mr. Walko added. “Today, there is an increasingly amount of volatility controlled or proprietary indices, and the challenge with the volatility and blended indices is that they are relatively more complex and often misunderstood by policyholders.”

The A.M. Best survey also showed that there is much variation amongst carriers in terms of minimum and maximum income benefits, sometimes as much as two times over a 20-year waiting period. However, the degree of variation is somewhat dependent on when the policyholder can elect the income benefit.

For more information about Fixed Income Annuities, visit the A.M. Best website.

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