|By Jennifer Bjorhus, Star Tribune (Minneapolis)|
|McClatchy-Tribune Information Services|
Operating profits at Allianz Life jumped 10 percent last year to
Total premiums, or sales, climbed 4 percent from a year earlier to
Allianz Life is the country's No. 1 seller of fixed annuities.
Annuities are insurance products used for retirement, with a reputation for being complicated. At their simplest, buyers put down a lump sum for a regular stream of pension-like payments.
Fixed annuities offer a guaranteed payout, while variable annuities are higher risk and pay out based on the performance of underlying investments.
The entire annuities industry has seen a lift from higher interest rates, with U.S. annuity sales growing at their fastest clip in 11 years in the fourth quarter, according to the insurance research organization LIMRA in
"You want to buy a house at lower interest rates, you don't want to buy an annuity at lower interest rates," said LIMRA spokeswoman
"It's been a game changer in the indexed annuity market in my mind," Moore said. "The secret sauce is that commission structure."
The industry average commission for indexed annuities is 5.66 percent of the lump sum premium payment the buyer makes, according to Moore, a 17-year low.
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