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INSURERS: BULLETIN 2000-3

State of California Department of Insurance

To: All Admitted Life Insurers and Fraternal Benefit Societies Qualified To Issue Variable Annuities and Other Interested Parties

Bulletin: 2000-03

Issued: October 2, 2000

Subject: Requirements to Issue Variable Annuity Contracts or Riders to Variable Annuity Contracts Containing Guaranteed Living Benefits

This Bulletin is issued pursuant to California Insurance Code  (CIC) Section 10506.5(c) (Statutes of 2000, Chapter 694, SB 423), effective September 27, 2000, which authorizes the Insurance Commissioner to issue a bulletin setting forth the terms and conditions under which variable annuity contracts, or riders to variable annuity contracts, that contain provisions providing guaranteed living benefits may be issued or delivered in California. The statute further specifies that this Bulletin possesses the same force and effect as duly promulgated regulations. Accordingly it will be so administered and enforced by the Insurance Commissioner. Certifications filed under Bulletin 97-2 regarding contracts with guaranteed living benefits are deemed to include certification of compliance with the provisions of this bulletin.

This Bulletin is effective as of October 2, 2000. It will remain in force until formal regulations are promulgated. 

  1. Definition
    Guaranteed Living Benefits are defined in Section 1-506.5(a). This definition is considered to encompass benefits generally referred to in the life insurance industry as Guaranteed Minimum Income Benefits (GMIB), Guaranteed Minimum Accumulation Benefits (GMAB), Guaranteed Minimum Withdrawal Benefits (GMWB), Guaranteed Pay-Out Annuity Floor Benefits (GPAF) as well as any other benefits that fall within the Section 10506.5(a) definition. Guaranteed Living Benefits do not include no-lapse guarantee provisions contained in variable life insurance policies.
  2. Statutory requirements
    CIC Section 10506.5(b) sets forth four requirements that an insurer (for purposes of this bulletin the term "insurer" includes fraternal benefit societies) must meet before it can issue or deliver in California a variable annuity contact or a rider to a variable annuity contract that contains a guaranteed living benefit provision. This Bulletin does not purport to reiterate or summarize the statute. Reference to the statute as well as this Bulletin is necessary. The requirements of this Bulletin are in addition to the statutory provision. The statute and bulletin do not encompass all potentially relevant legal requirements for contracts containing such benefits, which remain subject to all other applicable legal requirements regarding variable contracts.
  3. Reserves
    For purposes of this Bulletin, the term Current VAGLB Reserve Requirements refers to the latest of:
    • The Interim Report of the Variable Annuities with Guaranteed Living Benefits Work Group of the Committee of State Life Insurance Issues of the American Academy of Actuaries' (AAA) that was presented to the NAIC's Life and Health Actuarial Task force in September, 2000 (AAA VAGLB Report).
    • The latest version of the AAA VAGLB report presented to the NAIC or to its Life and health Actuarial Task force or revised by the NAIC itself or by its Life and Health Actuarial Task Force.
    • The latest version of a draft Actuarial Guideline, based on the AAA VAGLB Report, presented to or drafted by the NAIC or its Life and Health Actuarial Task Force.
    • An Actuarial Guideline for valuing variable annuities with guaranteed living benefits adopted by the NAIC.
    Reserves shall be maintained in accordance with the Current VAGLB Reserve Requirements. This applies to all inforce variable annuity business containing guaranteed living benefits. An insured domiciled in a state with reserving standards that differ from those in the Current VAGLB Reserve Requirements may hold such reserves upon approval by the Department. Approval of reserve proposals and alternative domiciliary state standards is contingent on the applicant satisfying the Insurance Commissioner that the proposal or standard provides a level of financial protection that equals or exceeds the standards in the Current VAGLB Reserve Requirements. The Department shall charge for actual time spent reviewing the alternative reserve standards in accordance with CIC Section 736. For variable products containing guaranteed living benefits nor covered by the Current VAGLB Reserve Requirements, an insurer shall file for Department approval of its reserving methodology. The Department shall charge for actual time spent reviewing the reserving methodology in accordance with CIC Section 736.
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  5. Reinsurance
    An insurer issuing guaranteed living benefits in connection with the issuance of a variable annuity contract that reinsures only the guaranteed living benefit shall not be denied credit for reinsurance due solely to the fact that only the guaranteed living benefits are reinsured [this is an exception to Section 1(c)(6) of Bulletin 97-5 as permitted by its Section 12(d)].
  6. Policy Form Filing Requirements
    CIC Section 10506.5(b)(4) requires the insurer to comply with the requirements of Section 2529 of Title 10 of the California Code of Regulations (CCR). Such requirements require that the insurer obtain the Department's prior written approval of all variable product policy forms for individual variable products that will be issued in California and for group variable products where the group policyholder resides in California. Insurers desiring to include guaranteed living benefit provisions in a variable contract or as a rider to a variable contract that is otherwise subject to the filing requirement must obtain the Department's prior written approval of such contract or rider before issuing such in California. The Department reserves the right to require additional and supplemental information as needed to understand the form. Such policy form filings shall be identical to those already in place under Section 2200 et seq. of Title 10 of the CCR. Thus, neither CIC Section 10506.5 nor this Bulletin create any new policy form filing procedures that did not already pertain to sellers of variable products
  7. Miscellaneous
    1. Resumption of Sales: Life Insurers that were required by the Department's April 26, 2000 Notice to suspend sales of variable annuity contract or riders containing a guaranteed living benefit may resume sales of previously approved forms after filing a letter with the Department signed by the appointed actuary. This letter must certify that the company will report reserves in all statutory financial statements for year-end 2000 and later in accordance with the reserving provisions of this Bulletin and that the company complies with all other requirements set forth in Section 10506.5 and this Bulletin. This letter should be addressed to:

      Robert A. Conover
      Senior Life Actuary
      California Department of Insurance
      300 S. Spring Street, South Tower
      Los Angeles, CA 90013
    2. Amendments:
      This Bulletin may, for good cause, be amended, supplemented or superseded from time to time, in the exercise of the Insurance Commissioner's sound discretion and in a manner consistent with the requirements of CIC Section 10506.5.
    3. Severability:
      If any provision of this Bulletin, or the application of the provision to any person or circumstance, shall be held invalid, the remainder of this Bulletin, and the application of the provision to persons or circumstances other than those to which it is held invalid, shall not be affected.
    4. Inquiries:
      Inquiries regarding this Bulletin should be referred to Robert A. Conover in the Actuarial Analysis Bureau the address above.
      Telephone: (213) 346-6229.
      Fax: (213) 897-9761.
HARRY W. LOW
Insurance Commissioner
 
Bulletin 2000-3 is available in MS-Word format
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