Women are living longer and after the financial crisis there is increased concern about not having enough money to last throughout their lifetimes.

As a result, more women are buying income annuities to ensure they have sufficient retirement income. 

New York Life Insurance Co. sold 64% of its $1.9 billion in fixed immediate annuity sales last year to women.

“Women are making a wise decision to actively ensure their retirement income needs are in place and the financial strength and peace of mind that come with this New York Life product is what they seek,” Angela Kyle, a senior vice president in the company’s retirement income security division, said in a press release. “Research has continued to identify the increased need among women to be proactive about planning for their financial needs in retirement.”

An academic paper co-sponsored by New York Life entitled “Lifetime Income for Women: A Financial Economist’s Perspective,” revealed that women’s increased longevity and the continued demise of traditional pensions put them at risk to outlive their assets.

The study found that traditionally women were advised to invest in high-risk products to get higher returns to sustain them through retirement.

But lifetime income annuities, which guarantee payments no matter how long an individual lives, were a safe alternative, with a lower cost and less risk.

“Because of an increased life expectancy, women are faced with financing a substantially longer retirement than men – a healthy 65-year-old woman has a 50% chance of living beyond age 88 and a 25% chance of living beyond 94. This is great news, but with a volatile stock market and uncertain economy, living well in retirement may seem a difficult goal,” Kyle said.

At the LIMRA conference in Washington DC last week, Jafor Iqbal, an associate managing director of LIMRA retirement research pointed out during a session that advisors believe longevity risk is the biggest retirement risk.

“The N.Y. Life announcement is consistent with our women’s consumer research,” said Marie Rice, a corporate vice president and director of LIMRA Retirement Research, in an email.  “LIMRA research has found that women are much more concerned than men about financial security, having enough money for retirement, and investing in more conservative products. Fixed immediate annuities offer the protection that women want.”

Cindy Hounsell, the president of the Women’s Institute For a Secure Retirement (WISER), said in an interview that she thinks more women are buying fixed immediate annuities mainly because they are panicked over how their investments declined in 2008. “There is a panic over not having guaranteed income,” she said. “In many ways the fact that women are buying more fixed immediate annuities is a really good sign that they are understanding their retirement situation. Once people get an education then buying annuities is really a no-brainer. We buy insurance for our cars. We need to buy insurance for ourselves.”

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