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Nursing home costs up in 2004, survey says

January 31, 2005

NEW YORK - The average annual cost of a private room in a nursing home was $65,200 in 2004 - a 13% increase over the amount in 2003 - according to a survey of 6,000 care providers released this month by Genworth Financial Inc.'s long-term-care-insurance...

OppenheimerFunds to enter retirement income arena

January 31, 2005

CHICAGO - As part of the effort to attract and retain the assets of retiring baby boomers, OppenheimerFunds Inc. is poised to be the latest entrant into the retirement-income-planning arena. "We do anticipate that in late February, we will be...

Morningstar to let VARDS fly solo, for now

January 24, 2005

CHICAGO - Morningstar Inc.'s purchase of the Variable Annuity Research and Data Service earlier this month is likely eventually to spell the end of a familiar industry acronym. "We haven't set any date for this, but we may change the branding...

Dilemma: To 403(b) or not to 403(b)

January 24, 2005

CHICAGO - For the first time in nearly 40 years, the Internal Revenue Service has proposed major changes to the regulations governing 403(b) plans, and some think they could squeeze independent financial advisers out of the market. "Virtually,...

Another index of hedge funds, but this one has a new wrinkle

January 24, 2005

NEW YORK - The first index that tracks hedge funds used by insurers to invest premiums from insurance products targeting wealthy clients will be available in March. The index will give advisers a way to benchmark performance of the funds backing...

Health savings accounts slowly make inroads

January 24, 2005

NEW YORK - Health savings accounts are either a solution or an enigma, depending on whether you ask an employer or employee, according to surveys released earlier this month. Employers are exploring HSAs as a way of blunting double-digit increases...

NASD rule sets VA sales criteria

January 24, 2005

NEW YORK - The sale of variable annuities, long the bread and butter for some financial advisers, could become more difficult under a proposed NASD rule that would prohibit certain sales. NASD of Washington filed the rule proposal with the Securities...

LTC pricing and availability may stabilize in 2005

January 17, 2005

NEW YORK - The long-term-care-insurer shakeout and fine-tuning of the pricing structure are expected to create a more stable market for the coverage in 2005, as well as blunt some of the negative press that has hounded the industry. The carrier...

Cultural divide impedes bank insurance sales

January 17, 2005

NEW YORK - Bank insurance sales are likely to spike significantly if top managers of the banks and insurance companies can resolve their cultural differences - and that's a big "if." "It's as though two individuals from different countries meet...

Vanguard exits term life business

January 10, 2005

NEW YORK - The Vanguard Group Inc. quietly terminated its term life insurance program in November, but don't expect its biggest competitor to follow suit. Fidelity Investments in Boston will continue to offer term life insurance through its...

Value of benefits planning is on the rise, study says

January 10, 2005

NEW YORK - As workers are increasingly expected to assume more of the cost of their health benefits, employers are being pressured to enhance benefits education efforts and be more flexible about plan offerings, according to a study by MetLife...

Optional fed life insurer oversight gets boost

December 20, 2004

WASHINGTON - In its efforts to win the option of being regulated by a federal entity, the life insurance industry may find that it has some allies in the Consumer Federation of America as well as in some Democrats in Congress. And in a demonstration...

Outdated pitches may be stifling sales volume in LTC insurance

December 20, 2004

NEW YORK - Hammering home the asset preservation and tax-saving aspects of long-term-care insurance will help sell more policies to individuals and businesses than talking about policy provisions and the odds of needing extended medical care,...

Improved tax incentives for LTC are receiving scant attention

December 13, 2004

CHICAGO - The tax incentives for buying long-term-care insurance continue to improve, but some think not enough financial planners and accountants are taking notice. The Internal Revenue Service said this month that it has increased deductibility...

Secondary market for VAs is emerging

December 13, 2004

NEW YORK - Advisers with clients who are unhappy with the performance of their variable annuity - or who need quick cash - can advise them to sell the annuity to a gradually expanding secondary market. Insurers and industry observers, however,...

Blended policies may create coverage-commission conflict

December 6, 2004

NEW YORK - Life insurance agents should inform their clients about the potential cost benefits of blended policies, an industry gadfly noted, even though blending can significantly reduce commissions. Glenn Daily, a New York-based consultant...

No new life from push by insurers

November 29, 2004

NEW YORK - September's Life Insurance Awareness Month at first blush seems to have been less than a rousing success, as October new life insurance applications in the United States decreased 2.1% from the level in October 2003, according to...

Probe may force more pay disclosure

November 29, 2004

WASHINGTON - New York Attorney General Eliot L. Spitzer's escalating probe into insurance industry sales practices is likely to lead to more disclosure surrounding how insurance agents and brokers are paid. On Nov. 15, the Kansas City, Mo.-based...

Banks sell more fixed annuities than variables, survey finds

November 15, 2004

NEW YORK - Banks' fixed-rate mindset and shortage of platform employees with securities licenses are among the reasons they sell more fixed than variable annuities compared to other distribution channels, according to bank insurance and annuity...

Brokers win battle in block transfer war

November 15, 2004

NEW YORK - Score a qualified victory for independent broker-dealers. Backing away from an earlier stance, NASD last Monday said that it will allow broker-dealers to continue the block transfers of mutual funds and variable annuities if clients'...

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