New York Life

New York Life Insurance Company is one of the most financially stable and iconic insurance companies in the world.  Founded in 1845, New York Life holds the highest financial ratings currently provided to any life insurane company.

New York Life is a mutual life insurance company, which means that the company is ultimately owned by policyholders rather than shareholders. 

New York Life operates globally and offers products in the areas of life insurance, annuities, long term care and mutual funds. New York Life's annuity offerings include both fixed annuities and variable annuities.

New York Life Product Reviews
i get a lot of clients asking me about longevity insurance. the press talks a...
Longevity annuities are contracts that can last for decades. A person may buy...
This is NY Life's longevity annuity. The product has been breaking sales...
Products Offered


General Information
Websitehttp://www.newyorklife.com
TypeInsurance Company
Founded1979
Ownership
CountryUSA
Contact Information
Address51 Madison Avenue
New York, NY 10010
Phone800-598-2019
Fax

Information & Articles about New York Life

Good question.

With respect to "direct," I am assuming that you are referring to directly from the insurance company with no agent or financial advisor involved.

There are relatively little direct distribution in the annuity business when compared with other lines of insurance.

The universe is narrowed further when throwing-in the A++ AM Best rating.

Let's start with listing some companies that fall under the strong financial rating:

I think it would make sense to inquire with the following companies regarding direct distribution:

  • TIAA-CREF
  • USAA Life
  • New York Life 

You can also take a look at the Vanguard annuity platform for what might be some lower cost purchase options.

Hope this helps.

 

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The U.S. longevity insurance market has been developing for almost a decade, and yet there are still only a handful of insurance companies providing retail longevity annuities.

This is somewhat surprising given demographics, longevity trends, capital market conditions and recent regulatory guidance that should provide a boost to longevity annuities.

That said, current environment interest rate environment is challenging for providers of fixed annuities--particularly those companies that need to respond to the shorter-term demands of shareholders.

MetLife was an early leader in the market for longevity insurance with a product for the defined contribution market. The focus here, though, is the retail market. In other words, the focus is on products that are provided directly to individuals (retail offerings) rather than longevity annuities that are offered through 401(k) plans.

The following is a list (in alphabetical order) of the companies that currently provide retail longevity insurance. We will attempt to keep this list current and comprehensive over time, and we welcome input from readers regarding products not on this list that are either available or in development.

1) MassMutual

MassMutual just came to market with its longevity annuity called RetireEase Choice deferred income annuity.

2) MetLife

Again, MetLife was a leader with a longevity insurance offering for the 401(k) market almost a decade ago.

MetLife’s current retail offering is the Longevity Income Guarantee

3) New York Life 

New York Life has had quite a bit of success with its longevity annuity. Initial sales exceeded expectations and totaled almost $250 million in the first six months.

New York Life’s longevity annuity is called the Guaranteed Future Income Annuity

New York Life also released a variable annuity with lifetime income features that is called the Income Plus Variable Annuity.

4) Nortwestern Mutual

Northwestern Mutual recently came to market with their longevity annuity.

Northwester Mutual’s longevity annuity is the Select Portfolio Deferred Income Annuity

5) Symetra

Symetra’s longevity annuity offering is the Freedom Income Annuity

6) The Hartford

The Hartford recently sold its annuity operations to Forethought Fianncial Group.

In the past, The Hartford had a couple of longevity insurance products. The products that were available were The Hartford Income Security and The Hartford Income Annuity.

7) Guardian Life

Guardian Life's longevity insurance product is the SecureFuture Income Annuity.

 

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The Securities and Exchange Commission’s (SEC) proposed Rule 151A would change the securities status of indexed annuities from fixed insurance products to registered, securities products.

The proposed rule would have a significant impact on their entire industry landscape.  SEC 151A would affect the way in which insurance companies develop fixed indexed annuity (FIA) products, how distributors sell the products, and ultimately the manner in which consumers purchase FIA products.

Sheryl Moore is the President and CEO of a company called AnnuitySpecs.com.  AnnuitySpecs.com is the premier information and market intelligence source for the indexed annuity industry. 

Sheryl is intimately familiar with 151A and she was kind enough to share her thoughts with us.

Annuity Digest: Why should the normal consumer who either has or is considering a FIA care about 151A?

Sheryl Moore: 151A is important from consumer standpoint because if the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) obtains ability to regulate fixed indexed annuities (FIA) as securities then consumers will have less access to these types of products than they do at the moment.

Insurance agents will have more overhead with broker-dealer registration requirements.  This will result in increased distribution costs for indexed annuities, which will ultimately result in the costs being passed down to the consumer. Again, the result is that fewer financial advisors in the space will result in fewer choices for consumers.

Also,there will be fewer insurance companies in fixed indexed annuity (FIA) space.  The number of FIA insurance carriers has decreased from 59 to 44 in the past year.  The number of indexed annuity products has declined from 333 to 266 during that same period. The bottom line is that 151A will result in fewer carriers, fewer products and less product diversity. 

Overall this will create a situation where this is less competition and product diversity which is clearly bad for the consumer.  In my opinion, there is absolutely no way SEC can prove that 151A will enhance competition to the benefit of the FIA consumer.

Also consumers should know that there are protections in place through the existing regulatory structure that is run by state departments of insurance.  The fact is that insurance regulation of fixed indexed annuities provides consumers with remedies for unsuitable sales.  This (backstops or remedies for unsuitable sales) would not be the case if FIAs are regulated by the Securities and Exchange Commission.

All annuities are essentially a commoditized product- whoever can offer the highest potential for gains to the customer prevails. If FIA regulated as securities, then FIAs as we know it will disappear.  Insurance companies will realize that FIAs are being regulated as a VA-type product, but look entirely different from a VA. The insurance companies that develop the products will reduce or eliminate the minimum guarantees, in an effort to pass on greater interest crediting to the consumer. This will give them an advantage when competing against fixed or variable annuities. In quest to see who can offer highest upside potential, carriers will let minimum guarantees slip away.  Lines between VA and FIA will blur.

Annuity Digest: Where did it actually come from and how did it evolve?

Sheryl Moore: This is an interesting question.

The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) issued notice to members in August 2005.  This notice to members—referred to as NTM 05-50—was really the technical inception of 151A. This notice suggested that Broker Dealers treat indexed annuities as if they were securities products, despite their fixed insurance status. Furthermore, it advised Broker Dealers to maintain a list of “approved” indexed annuities, from which their registered reps could sell from.

In addition, Mary Shapiro who is head of SEC and formerly head of FINRA is on record as a proponent of greater securities-related oversight of insurance products.  FINRA (which was formerly NASD) had—prior to 151A—always made a lot of noise about a need to regulate fixed indexed annuities.

At a higher level, though, 151A was driven by the prevalence of negative and inaccurate media regarding fixed indexed annuities.

Annuity Specs has tracked relevant media for years, and we have seen a consistent pattern of biased, negative media from well known, established publishers.

A critical turning point for 151A involved the Minnesota Attorney General contacting Dateline NBC with a hot story.  Dateline NBC then ran an “expose” on fixed indexed annuity sales and that resulted in widespread coverage and broad public reaction.

At that time, the #1 company in the indexed annuity market had been involved in a number of lawsuits, alleging unsuitable annuity sales to seniors. This company’s top-selling indexed annuity was a two-tiered product, which did not credit the 10% bonus nor any of the fixed or indexed gains unless the client held the product in deferral for a minimum five-year period, and then annuitized for a minimum 10-year period. This meant the client did not receive their 10% premium bonus unless they kept the annuity for a minimum 15-year period, and this was not prominently advertised in the product brochures. Although this top-selling product from this top company was very popular, it was not representative of other indexed annuities.  In addition, the distribution of this company was not properly trained on the products’ features, and were thus unable to properly communicate the product features to consumers. This is a case of one bad apple spoiling things for the entire barrel, as other companies in the indexed annuity market didn’t have similar issues with product miscommunication. However, this company’s problems made big headlines. Those unfamiliar with indexed annuities considered that this one problem must be an issue with the entire FIA industry.

The point of the story is that securities regulators reacted to the perceived consumer complaints. Lawsuits and complaints related to unsuitable annuity sales lead to securities regulators commenting on rising levels of unsuitable FIA sales.

In essence, regulators capitalized on media and broad public perception to broaden their jurisdiction.  In other words, the securities regulatory body sought to expand its authority by declaring an insurance product as a security.

All of the above said, our data show a large disconnect between what is portrayed in the media and the facts.

Annuity Specs research shows an average of 4 FIA complaints per insurance company in all of 2007.  Complaint levels actually went down in 2008 to 3.85 complaints per company.  For comparison purposes, 2007 variable annuity complaints averaged 5.88 per company and increased in 2008 to 7.13 per company.

The reality is that most actual issues are at point of sale with agents rather than how the products are actually manufactured and work.

Annuity Digest: What would proponents claim as the driving need or basis for 151A?

Sheryl Moore: The argument for 151A would boil down to the following: the fixed indexed annuity customer is at risk and SEC has a greater ability to protect consumers from these risks. 

The SEC would likely say that departments of insurance (DOI) are more focused on solvency issues than serving as an effective consumer watchdog.

Annuity Digest: Who are the natural advocates or proponents of 151A and why?

Sheryl Moore: As we have discussed, the SEC is certainly a key advocate.

FINRA which is essentially charged with the regulation of broker-dealers would also fall into the advocate camp.

In addition, some insurance companies such as New York Life and Hartford support 151A.  These companies are subject to the negative media exposure and they also happen to sell products that compete directly against FIAs.  Insurance and financial companies with vested interest in competing products are natural advocates of 151A.

Annuity Digest: Which segments of industry are naturally opposed and why?

Sheryl Moore: Product manufacturers and distributors of FIAs are opposed.

Some fixed annuity insurance companies are also opposed.

Some indexed life and universal life insurance companies are also opposed to 151A because they perceive that their products might be “next” in terms of securities oversight.

Really, though, FIA distributors and marketing organizations are especially threatened by 151A.  Ninety percent of FIAs are sold by independent agents, so independent marketing organizations (IMOs) that serve these agents are hugely at risk.  The indexed market is more IMO-driven than any other market—the average independent agent is contracted with 12 different insurance companies and 6 IMOs. 

Annuity Digest: What would proponents say are the upsides for consumers?

Sheryl Moore: They would argue that securities regulation of FIAs would result in greater consumer protection.

The Court has ruled that the SEC is correct in questioning the issue of market risk with FIAs.  In other words, a fundamental consideration is whether FIAs are technically investment products that are exposed to market risk.

The reality is that there is no real market risk with FIAs.  The products provide protection of principal with some upside potential depending on the market’s performance.  The whole thing around risk and the semantics of what constitutes an investment has the potential to open a sort of wormhole for many other insurance products that presumably have an “investment” profile.

Suitability of annuity sales has been put in the spotlight over the past few years, and improvements can be made with fixed, indexed, and variable annuity sales. Ultimately, the protections that the insurance industry has put into place with the Suitability in Annuity Transactions model act have resulted in far fewer suitability issues. However, I am not opposed to additional training being mandated for those selling indexed insurance products. Some states, such as Iowa, have adopted a mandatory 4-hour continuing education course that all producers must take, if they wish to sell indexed annuities or indexed life insurance. This is a great example of how this state is ensuring that their agents are properly equipped to sell these products.

Annuity Digest: Where is 151A actually at?

Sheryl Moore: The Court has told the SEC that they must go back and prove that securities regulation will improve competition, efficiency and capital formation.

Assuming the SEC is able to make this case, 151A will become law January 12th 2011.

The FIA industry has gone to Congress and identical bills exist in both the House (2733) and Senate (1389).  Both are sitting in committee at the moment.  The title is “The Indexed Annuities and Insurance Products Classification Act of 2009.” 

In this regard, things look favorable for the FIA industry at this point.  If the FIA bill passes then there is nothing that the SEC will be able to do to prove these products need to be regulated as securities.

Annuity Digest: What, in your opinion, does the future hold?

Sheryl Moore: I do not think 151A will go into effect.  I believe the bills in the House and Senate will succeed and result in what they are intended to achieve.

Also, the current environment is not a favorable one for the greater ambitions of the SEC.  The Madoff case and the SEC’s involvement (or lack thereof) do not lend support for the SEC’s role as a consumer watchdog.

That said, the fixed indexed annuity industry has been forever changed by 151A and things will never be the same. Securities regulators have already “won” to some extent, as FINRA now oversees sales of all indexed annuities for their registered representatives.

The damage was done as soon as FINRA issued its notice to members.  Almost half of all FIA sales are now through some form registered rep, and so one can assume those sales are going through a broker-dealer unless the rep is selling away. Broker-dealers develop lists of FIA products that their reps can sell. This naturally results in limited carriers and product options—not at all a positive for the consumer. 

At the end of the day, only 8% of insurance agencies sell fixed indexed annuities and only 2% of consumers know about the products.  The mission of Annuity Specs is to have people know the facts about these very interesting products.  We will do our part in making sure that consumers do not lose access to these products that offer protection of principal plus upside potential.

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