Last week, The Hartford announced that it is placing its individual annuity business “into runoff,” as the company put it, while it pursues sales or other alternatives for individual life insurance and retirement plans.

In response, Edward Jones has stopped offering Hartford annuities. Annuity sales were discontinued because Hartford announced it would be discontinuing annuity sales in April, Merry Mosbacher, principal, insurance marketing, Edward Jones, told On Wall Street.

In addition, Edward Jones suspended sales of new life insurance policies and retirement plans pending the resolution of the uncertainty surrounding these businesses. Hartford has been in regular contact with Edward Jones since the announcement was made, according to Mosbacher.

Despite the Hartford cutback, Edward Jones remains active in life insurance and annuities. “We currently offer insurance and annuity products from John Hancock, Lincoln Financial, MetLife Investors, Pacific Life, Protective and Prudential,” Mosbacher told On Wall Street. “We also offer annuities from New York Life and SunAmerica. We cannot predict which ones might see increased sales; our financial advisors recommend the products that best serve the financial needs of our clients.”

Mosbacher asserted that clients who currently own a Hartford annuity won’t be affected. “Our Product Review believes that Hartford Life Insurance Company and Hartford Life and Annuity Insurance Company are well-capitalized and will continue to honor all the features, provisions, and guarantees of existing annuity contracts and life insurance policies,” she stated. “Clients with existing annuity contracts do not need to take any action. Hartford’s decision to stop offering new annuity contracts does not impact in-force contracts.”  

Edward Jones is recommending that its financial advisors contact clients with in-process business to discuss this new information and to determine if Hartford remains an appropriate solution. “If Hartford remains an appropriate solution, no action is required and pending applications will still be processed,” Mosbacher said.

As for The Hartford, the company’s response to On Wall Street indicated that it has been reaching out to its distributors, including Edward Jones. "We've been in close contact with our major distributors and are addressing their questions,” said Michael Gregg, head of The Hartford's Strategic Markets unit. “During this time of transition at The Hartford, we remain focused on supporting the needs of financial advisors and their clients.”

Donald Jay Korn writes for On Wall Street.