Victory for Georgia

Feb 28, 2023

Georgia residents have had front-row seats to several significant events in recent months.

First came the tightly contested elections for Governor and the U.S. Senate.

Then came the University of Georgia Bulldogs’ undefeated run through the Southeastern Conference on their way to winning another national football championship.

But the event that might have the most significance for Georgians didn’t happen in the polling booth or on the football field. 

Georgia’s Insurance Department led by John King recently adopted a new rule that incorporates the enhanced consumer protections in the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) updated model regulation on annuity transactions. This is a huge victory for Georgia residents.

The rule enhances the standards financial professionals must follow while ensuring that individual savers maintain access to, and information about, annuities, the only financial product in the marketplace that can provide guaranteed income for life. Thanks to this new rule, all Georgians from the barrier islands on the Atlantic Coast to the Blue Ridge Mountains can achieve financial security and prosperity for their entire lives.

Georgia became the 33rd state to adopt similar laws or rules. Building on this momentum, several more states are considering similar measures to protect their residents.

The actions in the states closely align with the Securities and Exchange Commission’s Regulation Best Interest. And, unlike a fiduciary-only approach, these measures ensure savers, particularly financially vulnerable lower and middle-income Americans, can access information about varied choices for long-term security through retirement. According to a recent study, a fiduciary-only approach would shut down access to financial inclusion for 10 million households. Another survey notes that middle-income retirement savers would be very concerned about a regulation that restricted access to the professional financial guidance they want and need.

With these enhanced state and federal consumer protections, savers can be 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 that fit their needs.

More states should adopt this sensible consumer protection. Then more Americans looking to protect their family’s financial future would benefit from a best interest standard of care, no matter who they root for in politics or on the gridiron.

Curt Leonard

Curt Leonard is Regional Vice President, State Relations at the American Council of Life Insurers. He is responsible for state legislative and regulatory affairs in Florida, Georgia, Alabama, South Carolina and North Carolina. He also leads ACLI’s state advocacy team on issues of genetic science and long term care insurance. He joined ACLI in 2003.

Joe Schreck

Joe Schreck, NAIFA-Georgia President, is from Atlanta. CRN202602-3979879