On Monday, May 18th, Minnesota Life released VUL Defender product into the Variable Universal Life market. According to Minnesota Life, VUL Defender is “designed to provide one of the most competitive lifetime guaranteed death benefits in the market today.” This new product comes to market as Minnesota Life removed the Death Benefit Guarantee Agreement from their Accumulator VUL, replacing it with VUL Defender as its primary VUL-NLG product. It debuts at the top of our VUL-NLG benchmarks, but ranks in the in the middle when compared to the pure UL-NLG market.
When comparing against the VUL-NLG market, Accumulator VUL was average at best, ranking in the 4th quartile for full-pay scenarios. Premiums for VUL Defender are almost 20% lower across the board than Accumulator VUL. This helps catapult the new product into the top of the VUL-NLG market, ranking first or second for most full-pay scenarios. Where it is ranked first, premiums are an average 3% lower than the next best rate. While this is not a significant difference, it is clearly enough to knock previous top spot holders, such as Lincoln Financial’s VULOne (2014) and Prudential’s VUL Protector (2015), down in ranking. When compared to the UL-NLG market, VUL Defender’s competitive ranking is average at best for most scenarios with a handful of top showings for single-pay scenarios. It’s positioning is better for cash accumulation in year 20, with the product sitting in the top three for many single-pay scenarios and in the top half for ten and full-pay scenarios.
VUL Defender is not as impressive as an endowment product, though it does manage to improve on Accumulator VUL’s competitiveness to a small degree. When comparing VUL Defender to Accumulator VUL, premiums for the new product are lower for older non-tobacco insureds, but higher for younger insureds and the tobacco class. Similarly, cash surrender values in year 20 improve for younger insureds, but drop slightly for older insureds. Of the two Minnesota Life products available, VUL Defender is the preferred endowment product when the assumed rate is higher, but Accumulator is preferable at a lower assumed rate for younger insureds.
Targets for the new product are ranked at or near the top for VUL-NLG solves and fall slightly below average for Endowment solves.
Rates were updated on the LifeTrends website on Thursday, May 21st.