The Waiting is the Hardest Part

The anticipation in Indiana is off the charts. Hotels have been booked for months. Entrepreneurs are creating souvenirs to commemorate the big event. There’s even a rolling countdown clock, ticking off the days, hours, minutes and seconds.

We’re talking, of course, about the upcoming solar eclipse. On Monday, April 8, the moon will pass between the Sun and Earth, completely blocking the face of the Sun in many parts of The Hoosier State for more than three minutes.

This is a big, big deal. But something else big is happening in Indiana. This event will affect all of Indiana — and for much longer than a fleeting eclipse.  

Indiana recently adopted a rule proposed by Insurance Commissioner Amy Beard that incorporates the enhanced consumer protections in the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) updated model regulation on annuity transactions. Indiana became the 45th state to adopt these measures.

The new rule enhances the standards financial professionals must follow and protects consumers’ access to, and information about, annuities, the only financial product in the marketplace that can provide guaranteed income for life. Thanks to this consumer protection rule, nearly 7 million Indiana residents will be in a strong position to achieve financial security and prosperity throughout retirement.  

More than 90% of U.S. citizens now live in a state that has adopted a best interest standard for annuities. Building on this momentum, the remaining states are working on similar measures to further protect their citizens.

The actions in the states closely align with the Securities and Exchange Commission’s Regulation Best Interest. And, unlike the Department of Labor’s recent ill-advised fiduciary-only proposal, these harmonized measures ensure savers, particularly financially vulnerable middle-income Americans, can access annuities and information about other options for their retirement savings.

The DOL’s proposal is similar to its failed 2016 regulation that, before it was struck down by a federal court, resulted in more than 10 million American workers’ accounts, with $900 billion in savings, losing access to professional financial guidance. A recent survey shows that retirement savers overwhelmingly want the freedom to work with any kind of financial professional who is offering products and services that meet their needs.

With these enhanced state and federal consumer protections, savers can rest assured that financial professionals must act in the consumer’s best interest when offering recommendations about annuities. The U.S. Congress reaffirmed the importance of lifetime income when it passed legislation in 2019 and 2022 to make it easier for employers to include annuities in workplace retirement plans and simpler for savers and retirees to utilize annuities. 

More than 4.1 million Americans are turning 65 each year through 2027. Now is definitely not the time to limit people’s options for retirement.

After the total eclipse next month, the contiguous United States won’t see another one until August 23, 2044. We look forward to the remaining states that lack the best interest consumer protection joining Indiana and the rest of the country well before then. It’s time for all Americans working to protect their family’s financial future to benefit from a best interest standard.

John Mangan

John Mangan is Vice President & Deputy, State Relations at the American Council of Life Insurers (ACLI). He is responsible for state legislative and regulatory affairs in California, Idaho, Nevada, Oregon and Washington. He also leads the ACLI’s state advocacy team on the issues of state-run retirement plans and independent contractor proposals.

Trent Hahn

Trent Hahn, the Executive Director and Legislative Counsel for the Association of Indiana Life Insurance Companies, is from Indianapolis.

Daniel Stallings

Daniel Stallings, NAIFA-IN Past President is from Muncie, Indiana.