Living benefit riders boost persistency

RUARK CONSULTING RELEASES FIXED INDEXED ANNUITY STUDY RESULTS

Living benefit riders boost persistency


SIMSBURY, CT, March 5, 2018 – Ruark Consulting, LLC today released the results of its 2018 studies of fixed indexed annuity (FIA) policyholder behavior. The studies, which examine the factors driving surrender behavior and income utilization, were based on experience from 3.3 million policyholders spanning the period January, 2007 through September, 2017. A record 16 fixed indexed annuity writers participated, comprising $215 billion in account value as of September, 2017.

“Getting actuarial assumptions right can mean the difference between profitability and anti-selection, or between overhedging and underhedging,” said Timothy Paris, Ruark’s CEO. “Ruark’s studies use industry data to provide greater insight, and more predictable and stable results, than companies can achieve when they limit themselves to their own experience.”

Ruark’s FIA studies cover products both with and without a guaranteed living income benefit (GLIB). GLIB exposure outside the surrender charge period increased 82% in this edition over 2017.

Study highlights include:

  • Overall industry surrender rates have exhibited a secular downward trend since 2007. Surrenders at the shock duration (the year following the end of the contractually defined surrender charge period) have fallen from over 50% in 2007 to 15-25% in recent quarters, and surrender rates during the surrender charge period have fallen from high single digits to below 3%. We note an industrywide dip in surrenders in 2016 and rebound in 2017; it is likely that uncertainty surrounding the DOL’s proposed Fiduciary Rule and political factors encouraged a “wait-and-see” attitude among many policyholders and advisors.
  • The presence of a living benefit rider has a notable effect on surrender rates; contracts with a guaranteed living income benefit (GLIB) have much better persistency than those without. Surrender rates during the surrender charge period for contracts with GLIBs are less than half those of contracts without the guarantee. Among contracts that have begun taking income withdrawals, persistency is better still; shock duration rates are approximately 15%, as compared to 26% for contracts without GLIB.
  • Credited rates have a discernable effect on surrenders. As in past studies, we note that contracts earning less than 2% exhibit sharply higher surrenders than those earning more. Additional experience in this study reveals differentiation among contracts with higher returns, as well.
  • The in-the-money effect, by which owners have higher persistency when the account value is below the guarantee base, is subtle in the case of FIAs. We find that using an actuarial moneyness basis, which discounts guaranteed income for interest and mortality rates, has much greater predictive power than a nominal measure.
  • GLIB benefit commencement rates are low: 7% overall in the first contract duration and then falling to the 2% range in years 3-10. Notably, although experience is limited, exercise rates spike in year 11, suggesting that benefit bonuses may be effective at delaying exercise. When a living benefit contract does begin taking withdrawals, it is likely to continue in subsequent years; average continuation rates are near 100%. However, utilization of the benefit is far from fully efficient. A significant proportion withdraw income in excess of the contractual guarantee, which degrades value of the guarantee in future years.
  • Commencement rates vary considerably by age and by contract size. They are also influenced by the in-the-money effect. Exercise rates increase sharply when contracts move deep in the money, as policyholders recognize the economic value of the income guarantee.
  • FIA contracts typically offer the opportunity to take 10% of account value annually in penalty-free withdrawals, often following a 1-year waiting period. This is the case for contracts with and without a guaranteed living income benefit (GLIB) rider. Base contract withdrawals have been largely stable over the past decade. Behavior differs subtlely across four groups: Those taking the full penalty-free amount; those taking less; those taking excess; and those for which no penalty applies.
  • Free partial withdrawal activity on the base contract is influenced by age and required minimum distributions, as well as contract size. Notably, withdrawal sizes spike in the year following the end of the surrender charge period, when all partial withdrawals become penalty-free. Average withdrawal sizes jump 8 percentage points following the end of the surrender charge period.

Detailed study results, including company-level analytics, are available for purchase by participating companies. For further information, please contact Timothy Paris, CEO.
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About Us

We aim to be the platform and industry benchmark forprinciples-based insurance data analytics and risk management.

Ruark’s industry experience studies of annuity policyholder behavior are fueled by data contributed each year from companies comprising over $1.1 trillion of current account values. These studies address complex and interrelated behaviors such as surrenders, partial withdrawals, annuitizations, and mortality, and are the foundation for our more advanced client services. These services range from assumption reviews to customized readily-implementable modeling with a quantified risk profile based on a combination of predictive analytics, credibility theory, and expert judgment, to full process management. More broadly, in the reinsurance space we have placed and continue to administer dozens of treaties totaling over $1.5 billion of reinsurance premium and $30 billion of account value, and also offer reinsurance audit and administration services. In the pension space, we performed the data gathering and analysis that led to the publication of the Pri-2012 mortality tables by the Society of Actuaries (SOA) in 2019.

We are frequent speakers at industry events in the US and abroad on the topics of longevity, policyholder behavior and modeling, product guarantees, and reinsurance. Our work and commentary have appeared in National Underwriter, Investment News, Life Annuity Specialist (Financial Times), American Banker, Annuity News, InsuranceNewsNet, Retirement Income Journal, Insurance Risk, and The Actuary and several other newsletters and podcasts of the SOA. In 2018, CEO Timothy Paris was the subject of an SOA video and article about actuaries embracing predictive analytics. Tim is also the author of the chapter “Modeling and Managing Policyholder Behavior Risk” in the book Non-traditional Life Insurance Products with Guarantees. We are active within the SOA, through elected membership on section councils, editorial work for publications, working groups, and other projects.

We enjoy an ongoing collaboration with the Goldenson Center for Actuarial Research at the University of Connecticut.

OUR TEAM

Timothy Paris

Timothy Paris


About Us

Contact Tim

Tim is chief executive officer at Ruark Consulting LLC, which aims to be the platform and industry benchmark for principles-based insurance data analytics and risk management.

Ruark’s industry experience studies of annuity policyholder behavior are fueled by data contributed each year from companies comprising over $1.1 trillion of current account values.  These studies address complex and interrelated behaviors such as surrenders, partial withdrawals, annuitizations, and mortality, and are the foundation for our more advanced client services.  These services range from assumption reviews to customized readily-implementable modeling with a quantified risk profile based on a combination of predictive analytics, credibility theory, and expert judgment, to full process management.  More broadly, in the reinsurance space we have placed and continue to administer dozens of treaties totaling over $1.5 billion of reinsurance premium and $30 billion of account value, and also offer reinsurance audit and administration services.  In the pension space, we performed the data gathering and analysis that led to the publication of the Pri-2012 mortality tables by the Society of Actuaries (SOA) in 2019.

As an actuary and business leader, Tim is a frequent speaker at industry events in the US and abroad on the topics of longevity, policyholder behavior and modeling, product guarantees, and reinsurance.  In 2018 he was the subject of an SOA video and article about actuaries embracing predictive analytics.  His work and commentary have appeared in National Underwriter, Investment News, Life Annuity Specialist (Financial Times), American Banker, Annuity News, InsuranceNewsNet, Retirement Income Journal, Insurance Risk, and The Actuary and several other newsletters and podcasts of the SOA.  He is also the author of the chapter “Modeling and Managing Policyholder Behavior Risk” in the book Non-traditional Life Insurance Products with Guarantees.

Tim is a member of the Advisory Board of the Goldenson Center for Actuarial Research at the University of Connecticut.  Within the SOA, he has served as an elected member of the Reinsurance Section Council, leader of the Assumption Development and Governance Subgroup of the Modeling Section, Contributing Editor for The Actuary magazine, Caribbean Editor for the International Section newsletter, and member of the Policyholder Behavior in the Tail working group of the Joint Risk Management Section.  He has also served as a member of the Business Advisory Panel of Insurance Ireland, and a member of the Financial Reporting Committee of the Bermuda International Long Term Insurers and Reinsurers Association.

Tim is a Fellow of the Society of Actuaries, a Member of the American Academy of Actuaries, and a graduate of the University of Connecticut where he earned a BS in Mathematics with high honors.

Claudia Berns


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After graduating from the University of Connecticut with a Bachelor’s Degree in Finance, Claudia began her career at the Travelers Insurance Company in Hartford CT in the Life, Health and Financial Services Department.  She then accepted a position at GE as a Financial Analyst.  Claudia was selected as an internal recruit for the prestigious Financial Management Program where she gained extensive experience in various areas including accounting, sourcing, cost estimating and project management.

Before joining Ruark, she was an integral part of a start-up small business which she successfully managed for over ten years.  In her current position, she is responsible for operations support and project management.

Eric Halpern


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Eric Halpern is Chief Operating Officer of Ruark Consulting LLC. In this role, he leads the company’s policyholder behavioral analytics work, including industry- and company-level experience studies, predictive modeling and assumption model development, and related client projects. Eric provides leadership for these products from an actuarial, work process, and information technology standpoint.

Eric comes to Ruark with over 20 years’ experience in actuarial science, financial modeling, risk management, and investment management. Most recently, he was VP of Global Hedging Programs for White Mountains Life Re (Bermuda), a global reinsurer of variable annuity guarantees, where he was responsible for day-to-day management of the company’s financial risk mitigation program. He has also held annuity risk management positions at Phoenix and Cigna, as well as diverse actuarial staff positions at Cigna. Eric holds a BS in Mathematics from Yale University and is a Fellow of the Society of Actuaries.

In addition to his work at Ruark, Eric teaches insurance risk management in the Master’s Program in Financial Risk Management at the University of Connecticut School of Business. He lives with his family in West Hartford, Connecticut.

Mike Loftus


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Mike joined Ruark in January, 2005 and is involved in all aspects of the company, including consulting, reinsurance reporting, and peer review.

Mike came from The Hartford where he worked as a Pricing Actuary for Group Annuities. Prior to that, Mike had a distinguished 15-year career at CIGNA with responsibilities in CIGNA’s Pension and Healthcare operations.

Mike is a graduate of American International College where he earned his BA in Mathematics in 1983. He lives in Windsor, CT with his wife, Molly, and three children.

Judy Mason


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Judy joined Ruark in January, 2001. As an Analyst/Manager, she handles a broad range of duties including client reporting, budgeting and financial reporting, tax filing, invoicing and banking. Before joining RIA, Judy worked at CIGNA for many years.

Judy resides with her husband, Scott, in Windsor, Connecticut

Sally Osit


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Sally joined Ruark in July, 2001, where she focused on reinsurance program reporting, including book of business reviews, experience studies, and program renewals. Currently, as Chief Administrative Officer, she has led the administration of Ruark as it grows its consulting, reinsurance & experience studies offerings.

Sally has over 24 years of varied insurance industry experience. Prior to joining Ruark, Sally held a position of Director of Integration & Synergy with CIGNA Health Services. She also has a wide variety of both pricing and financial reporting experience, having managed cash flow testing for all of CIGNA’s pension products as well as pricing for CIGNA’s dental, COLI, and 401(k) products.

Sally is a graduate of the University of Connecticut, where she earned her BA in Actuarial Science in 1990. She currently lives in South Windsor, Connecticut with her husband, Alan, and three children.

Don Ruark


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Don joined Ruark as our Chief Financial Officer in September 2010.

Graduated with Bachelors of Business Administration in 1977 from Eastern Michigan University.

Became a CPA in 1979.

35 years experience, including both the public and private sectors.

Don Resides in Canton MI with wife Kayla, youngest daughter Alyse, and Scout the dog.

Randy Schott


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Randy joined Ruark in 2012 with over 15 years in the insurance industry and actuarial environments.

Prior to joining the company, Randy was involved in Small Group Medical Pricing with Aetna and United Healthcare.  He also has experience with state filings, pension analysis and Underwriting.

Randy is a graduate of The University of Connecticut.  He lives in Vernon Connecticut with his wife and family.

Eric Swan FSA - Ruark Consulting

Eric Swan


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Eric joined Ruark in 2009 with over 20 years of experience in the insurance industry.

Before joining the company, Eric was an Assistant Vice President at MetLife, responsible for product development and pricing of Corporate Owned Life Insurance products. Eric also has experience in pricing retail Universal Life and annuity products, state insurance department and SEC filings, cash flow testing and Illustration Actuary product compliance.

Eric graduated Magna Cum Laude and Phi Beta Kappa from Colby College, where he earned a BA in Economics/Mathematics. He lives in Suffield, Connecticut with his wife and two children.

Steve Wright


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Steve joined Ruark in 2009 with 17 years of insurance experience, most recently as a principal in a small reinsurance underwriting company. Prior to that he was at The Phoenix and the former Connecticut Mutual, which included positions in Group and Special Risk reinsurance and Ordinary Life reinsurance. Along the way, he also served a few years as a CT-certified high school math teacher, where he beat into his students the love of math.

Currently, Steve is spearheading Ruark’s growth into predictive modeling and assumption setting. His programming abilities and actuarial expertise have also been leveraged to further enhance the company’s annuity industry experience studies.

Steve is a graduate of Bates College where he earned a BS in mathematics, is a Fellow in the Society of Actuaries, and is a Member of the American Academy of Actuaries.

Ruth Ann Woodley


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Ruth Ann joined Ruark in 2004 and developed its dental consulting practice. In 2018, that practice became Dental Actuarial Analytics, LLC, an affiliate of Ruark.

Prior to joining Ruark, Ruth Ann spent 11 years with Cigna. There she served as the actuary for Cigna Dental and the reserving actuary for Cigna Healthcare, among other roles. She is involved in volunteer work for the Society of Actuaries and the National Association of Dental Plans.

She is originally from North Carolina, where she graduated from UNC-Chapel Hill with degrees in both mathematics and music. She lives in Bloomfield, Connecticut with her husband Peter Gourley.

Peter Gourley


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Peter joined Ruark in 2002 and has been involved in all aspects of the company in his tenure.

In his 20-year career prior to Ruark, Peter served in a variety of actuarial roles in many areas at CIGNA and Lincoln National. Peter graduated from Middlebury College with a BA in mathematics. He lives in Bloomfield, Connecticut with his wife Ruth Ann Woodley.