Provider Overview – MassMutual Annuities
MassMutual was originally established in 1851 by George W. Rice. Rice was an insurance agent for a Connecticut life insurance company that wanted to open a similar business in Massachusetts. He started the Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company, which became a true mutual company, a company owned by his policyholders, shortly after his creation.
Today, the company is based in Springfield, Massachusetts and Enfield, Connecticut, and has grown from a personal insurer to an international financial services firm. It has approximately thirteen million customers worldwide and more than $500 billion in assets under management. In addition to its US operations, MassMutual has subsidiaries in Hong Kong, Japan, Taiwan, China, Macau, Argentina, Chile, Bermuda and Luxembourg. The total number of company offices exceeds 1,200 and the company’s full trading name is MassMutual Financial Group.
MassMutual continues to operate for the benefit of its members and members. They provide life insurance, disability income insurance, long-term care insurance, 401(k)/retirement plan services, mutual funds, money management and fiduciary services, as well as annuities for their clients.
Although dividends are not guaranteed, MassMutual prides itself on its financial strength and has paid dividends to policyholders every year since the 1860s. The company is also known for its charitable giving in the areas where it is based. They often contribute to programs that benefit the local community’s education, arts, culture, or economic development.
In terms of annuities, MassMutual offers five different products: two variable deferred annuities, a fixed deferred annuity, and an immediate annuity. The individual products are as follows:
Deferred Variable Annuities:
o MassMutual Transitions Select
o Evolution of MassMutual
Deferred Fixed Annuities:
o Mass Mutual Odyssey and Odyssey Plus
Immediate Fixed Annuities:
or MassMutual RetireEase
Some of MassMutual’s annuity policies can start with both death and living benefits. The death benefit option means that a beneficiary will receive all of the money in the account or a guaranteed minimum amount upon the death of the annuity beneficiary. Enhanced death benefits are also available that may allow a higher payout to the beneficiary. Life benefits include minimum guaranteed accumulation benefits, income benefits, and retirement benefits.
As with most insurers, MassMutual adds additional fees associated with its annuity products. These include administration and management fees. There may also be a mortality risk charge and an expense risk charge, often known as an “M&E” charge. In addition, surrender charges may apply if the annuity is terminated early or if a portion of the annuity is withdrawn.
When considering an annuity company, it is important to understand the financial strength of the organization. One of the best ways to do this is by reviewing the company’s financial ratings. Independent rating firms have given MassMutual some of the highest ratings in the industry. Below are the current ratings (as of July 2009) for MassMutual.
AM Best Company: (Superior, 1st of 15 categories)
Fitch Ratings: (Exceptionally Strong, 1st of 21 categories)
Moody’s: (Excellent, 2nd out of 21 categories)
Standard & Poors: (Extremely Strong, 1st of 21 categories)