Kemper Distributors Inc. has launched a variable annuity for bank customers that guarantees a minimum return in the event of a market falloff.

The annuity, Kemper Destinations, featured a guaranteed retirement income benefit of 5% a year, compounded annually.

In recent years variable annuities have let customers generate tax- deferred investment income pegged to the rise in the stock market. These contracts also provide a payout in the event of an annuity holders' death.

But many annuity customers worry less about dying young than about having too little money in their old age, said Perry Moore, the director of Kemper Insurance Products division.

"Baby boomers are saying, "If I need the money, a death benefit will really do me no good,'" Mr. Moore said.

Moreover, as the stock market shows signs of weakness, many annuity customers are interested in maintaining "a safety net" on their investment, he said. "The living-benefit guarantee is a real comfort in this environment," he said.

Kemper, a unit of Scudder Kemper Investments, Chicago, sells through dozens of banks and thrifts through a relationship with Invest of Tampa, a third-party marketer.

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