Company Combines Income Guarantees with Innovative Benefit Flexibility; Offers Industry-First Conversion Feature
NEW YORK − AXA Equitable Life Insurance Company premiered today a redesign of its Accumulator® variable annuity series. The product series, first introduced in 1995, now includes a groundbreaking living benefit that can seamlessly transition from a Guaranteed Minimum Income Benefit (GMIB) to a Guaranteed Withdrawal Benefit for Life (GWBL). For the first time in the industry, variable annuity contractholders have the ability, at age 85, to convert a GMIB to a GWBL. The patent-pending enhancement offers clients a method for staying invested in equity-based investment options, while at the same time accessing a predictable stream of retirement income.
AXA Equitable’s Accumulator responds to the general increase in longevity and the decrease in traditional pensions by offering clients a way to both secure a guaranteed minimum retirement income stream and keep their options open to pursue continued growth potential in equity-based subaccount investment options. With a streamlined focus on the product’s GMIB benefit, today’s Accumulator redesign affirms AXA Equitable’s core business strategy of offering innovative financial products in a financially sustainable manner.
“The current environment of extreme market volatility makes it clear that Americans are in need of reliable guarantees from strong guarantors,” said Christopher M. "Kip" Condron, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of AXA Equitable. “Our commitment to act responsibly in all facets of our business is reflected in the prudent design of our products, providing us with adequate resources to meet client promises now and well into the future.”
Pioneered in the industry by AXA Equitable in 1996, the optional GMIB rider, available for an additional fee, provides a “floor” of future, predictable lifetime income, regardless of subaccount investment performance. “Today, with our new conversion option, we’re redefining what people can expect from an annuity,” said Claude Methot, Executive Vice President and Chief Product Officer for AXA Equitable. “Previously at age 85, our clients had to choose between exercising their GMIB by annuitizing or losing the guarantee. Now, they have the flexibility to maintain a lifetime income guarantee and stay invested, while retaining the elected death benefit. This innovation significantly enhances the way people use variable annuities as part of their retirement financial plans, especially over what could be a 30-year period or longer.”
Flexibility and Choice
Clients who elect the GMIB can chose to:
- Invest in more than 50 individual subaccount investment portfolios from nationally recognized investment firms or pursue their financial goals with one of Accumulator’s asset allocation portfolios;
- Select a beneficiary protection option, either a Standard Death Benefit or enhanced death benefits, available for an additional fee, that allows beneficiaries to take advantage of gains that have been “locked-in” during up markets;
- Stop paying for the GMIB rider if circumstances change and the feature is no longer needed. Even if a client chooses at some point to discontinue the GMIB rider, he or she can still continue the Accumulator contract and maintain its death benefit;
- Exercise the GMIB whenever they need to, after it becomes effective 10 years after election, up to age 85. GMIB owners have until their contract anniversary after age 85 to exercise their GMIB to obtain a guaranteed minimum lifetime income amount.
GMIB owners who choose not to exercise their GMIB at age 85 have several options. They can:
- Convert their GMIB to Accumulator’s GWBL option. The conversion allows owners to keep their death benefit and remain invested in equity-based subaccount investment options, while at the same time receive a guaranteed minimum stream of withdrawals;
- Not exercise their GMIB rider but continue their contract, remain invested in any available subaccount investment option and maintain their contract’s death benefit; or,
- Take a lump sum payment and terminate the contract.
The Accumulator is a flexible payment variable deferred annuity offering a way to help build long-term wealth, guarantee a future income today and protect a contract owner’s family along the way.
Accumulator’s GMIB – This optional variable annuity rider, available for an additional fee, provides a "floor" for predictable, future lifetime income. If elected, Accumulator owners choose whether to keep it until age 85. When the GMIB is selected, contract owners know what their minimum future guaranteed lifetime payments will be when and if the GMIB is exercised, which can begin on the 10thcontract anniversary or any subsequent contract anniversary, at least 10 years after the benefit effective date, but not later than the contract anniversary after the contract owner reaches age 85. If the contract owner chooses not to exercise the GMIB, the benefit base grows at a 6% annual rate to age 85, assuming no withdrawals. The annual increase is 3% for certain subaccount investment portfolios.
Contract owners can elect to withdraw from the account value up to 6% of the GMIB Roll-up to Age 85 Benefit Base at the beginning of each following contract year anniversary, without annuitizing and without decreasing the guaranteed future income payment stream below the initial guarantee. Even in down markets the Roll-up Benefit Base keeps rising at a set percentage rate of 6% until age 85. At age 85, contract owners also have the option to stay invested in the subaccount investment options by converting their contract to the GWBL. If a contract owner converts the GMIB to the GWBL at age 85, the GWBL guaranteed annual withdrawal amount will equal 7% of the Account Value or 6% of the GMIB Benefit Base. The Benefit Base has no cash value.
The GMIB is an optional feature of the Accumulator variable annuity that entails additional costs and contains certain limitations and restrictions.
A variable deferred annuity, such as the Accumulator variable annuity, is a long-term financial product designed for retirement purposes. In essence, an annuity is a contractual agreement in which payment(s) are made to an insurance company; the insurance company then agrees to pay out an income or a lump sum amount at a later date.
Variable annuity contracts are not insured by the FDIC or any other government agency. They are not deposits or obligations of any bank, are not bank guaranteed and may go down in value. Amounts invested in an annuity’s variable subaccount investment options are subject to fluctuations in value and market risk, including loss of principal.
Typically, variable annuities have mortality and expense (M&E) charges, account fees, investment management fees, and administration fees. In addition, annuity policies have exclusions and limitations; early withdrawals may be subject to surrender charges; and, if taken prior to age 59 1/2, a 10% federal income tax penalty may apply.
Guarantees are based on the claims-paying ability of AXA Equitable Life Insurance Company.
Please consider the charges, risks, expenses, and investment objectives carefully before purchasing a variable annuity. For a prospectus containing this and other information, please contact a financial professional. Read it carefully before you invest and send money.
This release is not a complete description of all the material provisions of the Accumulator contract. Certain types of contracts’ features and benefits may not be available in all jurisdictions.
Accumulator variable annuities are issued by AXA Equitable Life Insurance Company, New York, N.Y. 10104 and are co-distributed by affiliates AXA Advisors, LLC and AXA Distributors, LLC. AXA Equitable has sole responsibility for its annuity and life insurance obligations.
About AXA Equitable
In business since 1859, AXA Equitable Life Insurance Company is a leading financial protection company and one of the nation's premier providers of life insurance, annuity, and investment products and services. AXA Equitable's assets under management totaled $665.6 billion as of September 30, 2008. AXA Equitable’s assets under management are inclusive of assets under management held by an affiliate AllianceBernstein, L.P.
The company's products and services are distributed to individuals and business owners through its retail distribution channel, AXA Advisors, LLC; to the financial services market through its wholesale distribution channel, AXA Distributors, LLC; and to corporations and their employees through its corporate distribution channel, Corporate Markets.
AXA Equitable is the creator of MyRetirementShop.com (www.myretirementshop.com), a lifestyle website that's a one-stop-shop for information and resources to help consumers redefine life in retirement. It's the company's latest innovation in our At Retirement® platform, committed to helping individuals near and at retirement make informed choices to enhance and preserve their lifestyle.
AXA Equitable, a subsidiary of AXA Financial Inc., is part of the global AXA Group, a worldwide leader in financial protection strategies and wealth management. AXA Group's operations are geographically diverse, with major operations in Europe, North America, and the Asia/Pacific region. AXA Group is listed as the 15th largest company in the world on the 2008 Fortune Global 500 list (based on revenues). “AXA Group” refers to AXA, an international financial services holding company together with its direct and indirect consolidated subsidiaries. It had $1.81 trillion in assets under management as of June 30, 2008. Listed on the Paris Stock Exchange, the AXA ordinary share trades under the symbol AXA. The AXA American Depositary Share is listed on the New York Stock Exchange under the ticker symbol AXA. For more information, visit www.axa-equitable.com.