The 1 Thing Retirees Fear Most

The 1 Thing Retirees Fear Most

Since the financial crisis, there's no question that the nation's population is concerned about their financial standing. Plenty of investors saw the huge declines in their portfolios, while others had their pensions stripped or other financial hardships. On the heels of such events, there's one fear that the majority of soon-to-be retirees share -- and with that knowledge, financial firms are gearing up to offer products to lessen those concerns.

No, it's not death
Though I'm sure that keeling over is getting closer to the top of some retirees' lists of fears, the most common shared concern is living beyond their savings -- a.k.a. running out of money. A survey completed by Allianz Life Insurance Company revealed that 61% of retirees are more concerned about outliving their retirement savings than dying.

With the increasing cost of medical needs, increasing life expectancies, as well as fewer pension benefits and Social Security benefits, retirees are finding it harder to get by on the amount of savings that they had previously thought would be adequate. Among consumers age 44-49 in the study, the percentage of those worried about the longevity of their savings jumps to 77%.

Time to be opportunistic
The fact that there is a consistent fear of outliving savings is a telling sign that consumers will be looking for new products to address the fear. This is where life insurance and retirement services firms have an opportunity. In fact, ING U.S. has centered much of its restructuring and rebranding initiative on a focus for "retirement readiness." Since going public in May, the company has stated its thesis that the most daunting issue Americans are facing today is preparing for retirement.

Long-term careMuch like the restructuring at ING U.S., other companies have refocused on their retirement services operations, with success. After a long internal review of its long-term care insurance division, Genworth Financial decided that it would not back out of that market, though it has been troublesome in the past in terms of profitability. Many LTC insurers found that the low rates they were charging in order to build up their businesses were not sufficient in covering the costs from the nearly 8 million Americans that bought policies.

Due to the staggering increase in medical costs, Genworth Financial and competitors, including Manulife Financial Corp.'s John Hancock division, have had to increase the premiums for their LTC insurance. For the two companies' in-force business, both have stated that the rates will rise significantly. Genworth cited a 6%-13% rise based on various policy features, while John Hancock has asked state regulators for the ability to raise rates by 25%.

Record sales
In the past two quarters, insurers have seen a huge increase in demand for their annuity products. By offering structured payouts in the future, an annuity can give some sense of security to a retiree that's concerned about outliving their income. But as I mentioned in a previous article, there are some significant drawbacks to investing in an annuity product.

American International Group reported a record level of sales during the second quarter of its variable annuity products, followed by a 100%+ increase in fixed annuity sales during the third quarter. According to the company's conference call following the third quarter, its fixed annuity products are priced so as to provide an 11%-12.5% return to the company -- so the continued demand for these products will provide good returns in the future.

Best approach
If you're like the millions of other investors concerned about the longevity of their retirement savings, be sure to check out some of the new products that could help ease your burden in the long run, but be sure to discuss any products with a non-biased financial planner before jumping in. For investors looking to boost their portfolios, the same fear you may have about outliving your savings may just be the boost needed for any of the financial services companies on the market. With higher demand for financial products that will address the No. 1 concern of retirees, these companies will be prepared to step up and offer products to meet the bigger needs, all while increasing the likelihood of a good return for their shareholders.

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Fool contributor Jessica Alling has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends and owns shares of American International Group and has the following options: long January 2016 $30 calls. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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Originally published