Advisors and consumers now may buy four classes of annuities directly from the Internet following the launch of the website Annuities.direct. This is a direct-to-consumer channel designed to lower the costs of annuity transactions.
The portal steers consumers to product-specific pages for qualified longevity annuities contracts (www.QLAC.direct), single premium immediate annuities (www.SPIA.direct), multiyear guaranteed annuities (www.MYGA.direct) and deferred income annuities (www.DIAS.direct).
By the end of the year, Annuities.direct will offer indexed and variable products as well, Stan G. Haithcock said. Haithcock is a nationally recognized annuity agent and author who goes by the trademarked name “Stan The Annuity Man,” and is based in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla.
“Annuities are one of the last financial products available where a real, comprehensive, direct-to-consumer website didn’t exist, until now,” Haithcock said in a news release.
Purchasing from www.annuities.direct doesn’t completely cut out the agent.
Haithcock collects a commission for setting up the website and the agent of record on the policy also gets paid a commission. But Haithcock said he’s working with carriers to “strip out the majority of the commission and build that back into the product for the customer.”
“Agents and advisors will hate me, and I could not care less,” he told InsuranceNewsNet. “Consumers will love it, which is all that matters in the end.”
Annuities: The Final Financial Services Frontier
Sales of annuities through direct-to-consumer Internet channels have lagged other insurance products, many of which have been available online for at least a decade.
Regulation, challenges to technology platform configurations and the traditional demographic of an annuity buyer are among the factors that have slowed the adoption of the direct-to-consumer annuity channels.
Few people doubt that the Internet eventually will make inroads into the sale of annuities. Younger consumers weaned on digital and mobile technologies will expect and demand their life and annuity providers to make these products available online.
Prospective buyers shopping for annuities on Annuities.direct will see the top five or more contractual guarantees when clicking on the “Get Final Quote” button, just as buyers would if they were shopping for a mortgage, Haithcock said.
Because many annuity carriers still require a “wet” signature on documents, despite courts approving electronic signatures years ago, an Annuities.direct transaction isn’t completely digital.
Annuities.direct, however, is ready to “quickly go to the ‘e-apps’ as soon as the industry decides to enter the 21st century. I’m waiting on them,” Haithcock said.
Annuity sales in 2015 reached $236.7 billion last year, flat compared to 2014, according to data from the LIMRA Secure Retirement Institute.
InsuranceNewsNet Senior Writer Cyril Tuohy has covered the financial services industry for more than 15 years. Cyril may be reached at [email protected].
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