Mass Mutual Annuities
Mass Mutual Financial Group is one of the world’s leading providers of insurance and financial services. From its inception in the mid-19th century, it has remained a mutual insurance company, owned by its participating policyholders. It enjoys the distinction of having paid dividends to its shareholders every year since the 1860s.
The Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company was founded in 1851 by Gerald Rice. It was one of a handful of mutual life insurance companies begun between 1843 and 1851 because the mutual form of organization made it easier to attract capital. Mass Mutual’s signature product was whole life insurance, which it began selling in Springfield, MA, and gradually spread across the country, reaching San Francisco by 1868. Not until 1901 did the company relent and start offering term insurance policies in addition to whole life. In 1914, it helped to introduce the concept of premium waivers for disabled policyholders.
Mass Mutual maintained its position as one of America’s leading life insurance companies throughout the Great Depression. In 1946, it entered the field of group insurance. In the 1970s, it was among the first companies to embrace computers for its work force, for whom it provided flextime in 1974. The 1980s saw Mass Mutual enter the field of asset management, purchasing Oppenheimer Funds and undertaking group- pension management responsibilities. In 1995, Mass Mutual merged with Connecticut Mutual Life Insurance Co. By 2007, the company’s assets under management totaled over $500 billion.
Today, Mass Mutual’s operations stretch worldwide. It has offices in Hong Kong, Japan, Taiwan, China, Macau, Chile, and Luxembourg.
Mass Mutual Annuities
Mass Mutual offers both immediate and deferred annuities. Its immediate annuities include one single-premium immediate fixed annuity and one variable annuity product. Its deferred annuities include both variable annuities (5 products) and fixed annuities (2 products). Although Mass Mutual continues to offer variable annuity products, financial pressure generated by the economic downturn has led to discontinuation of “living benefits” riders for several variable annuities products. In common with other insurers offering variable annuities, Mass Mutual has had difficulty fulfilling some of the guarantees contained in the riders while simultaneously maintaining its high financial rating.
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Mass Mutual Ratings of Financial Strength
Because of its status as a mutual insurance company, Mass Mutual has traditionally enjoyed excellent financial health. In recent years, it has consistently received some of the highest rankings for financial strength of any insurance company.
On August 27, 2009, Standard & Poor downgraded the company’s financial strength from its highest rating (AAA) to its second-highest rating (AA+). The downturn reflected economic weakness created and reinforced by the current downturn, which had the effect of reducing the company’s financial flexibility and the quality of its capital. However, the company’s future outlook was “stable,” its competitive position remained strong and its capitalization remained ample. Even after the downgrade, Mass Mutual’s financial ratings marked it as one of the life-insurance world’s strongest companies. Moody’s continued to review its financial strength rating of Mass Mutual for possible downgrade, as of late summer, 2009.
Mass Mutual’s current ratings from the major rating agencies are as follows: A.M. Best - A++ (highest); Standard & Poor’s – AA+ (2nd highest); Moody’s – Aa1 (2nd highest); Fitch – AAA (highest).
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