Jackson National Life Insurance Co. has brought back the joint life options for a group of variable-annuity-withdrawal benefits that it did away with last October under pressure from interest rates.
Starting Sept. 16, advisers once again will be able to choose joint life options for Jackson's LifeGuard Freedom Flex line of guaranteed-minimum-withdrawal benefits. Starting that day, joint options will be available for the LifeGuard FreedomFlex 5%, 6% and 7% living-benefit riders with annual step-ups, and the LifeGuard Freedom 6 Net.
FreedomFlex is a customizable living benefit that permits the client to choose the size of the annual growth rate for their benefit base — the number that will be used to calculate the income they eventually will withdraw from the contract. The annual step-up also allows the client to lock in investment gains each year. Freedom 6 Net, on the other hand, gives investors the opportunity to increase their benefit base with a 6% annual bonus for the first ten years, as long as they don't take withdrawals.
Joint life options are a valuable planning tool for advisers and their clients. These annuity features protect lifetime-income benefits for a spouse in the event the contract holder dies.
“When you're mitigating risk, it's important to have that joint rider,” said Judson Forner, a senior analyst for investment services at ValMark Securities Inc.
Jackson officials were not available for comment.
The insurer initially stripped away the joint-life options last October amid a slew of other product changes and the eventual temporary suspension of 1035 exchanges into its variable annuities. The economy and the low-interest-rate environment were the culprits at the time.
Advisers were rankled by the announcements, as the insurer has been among the top three variable annuity sellers for several years. It's best known for offering well over 90 different investments, even during the recession, when many of its competitors curtailed their investment options.
These days, Jackson is at the top of the list among variable annuity sellers. In the first half of the year, the firm sold some $10.3 billion in variable annuities, according to Limra.