Because variable annuities have sub-accounts that are structured much like mutual funds, the Securities and Exchange Commission has requested information on trading practices from most top insurers and some smaller ones, according to Judith Hasenauer, partner at Blazzard, Grodd & Hasenauer.

However, the letters received by insurance carriers are not necessarily indicative of further accusations from the agency, Hasenauer said. "I do not believe there’s been a rush to judgment by the SEC. They are at the fact-finding stage," Hasenauer explained. "The letter was signed not by enforcement but by the examinations office."

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