Producers who sell index annuities gave American Equity a solid "B" grade, according to results from the Advantage Group’s annual survey. Producers were asked to assign grades ("A" through "F") to companies they deal with on six different criteria.

Allianz and ING were the second- and third-ranked companies, both receiving Bs with "grade point averages" above 3.0. The lowest-ranked company was National Western, which received an average grade of 1.964.

The survey targeted 690 producers across the country, yielding 144 valid responses. Producers were asked to grade such attributes as "Providing Accurate Information" (average grade 3.00), "Resolving Problems" (average grade 2.70), and "Returning My Phone Calls" (average grade 2.70).

The survey also looked at the language producers used to describe their relationships with the carriers. Even when producers had positive feelings about a carrier, that did not mean that they felt service was excellent. The top three carriers also received the highest percentage of positive responses, based on use of a particular word. However, Jefferson-Pilot, which received positive responses from 81.08% of producers and ranked fourth in this respect, received lower overall grades than Midland National, which received 74.07% positive responses.

"The most consistent emotion that correlated with grading was ‘valued,’" said Jack Marrion, president of Advantage Group. The biggest surprise, he added, was how high the overall grades were and the fact that every carrier had producers who were very happy with the service.

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