True long-term-care riders are a rarity in annuities, whether sold through banks or other channels, but they seem to have captured the buying public's imagination.

Kenneth Kehrer Associates says bank sales of the Revolution Value Annuity, John Hancock Financial Services' annuity with a long-term-care rider, were more than $35 million in the second quarter, up 38% from the prior quarter.

About half of variable annuities have a long-term-care waiver, which under certain conditions allows the annuity owner to take money out without a penalty - even if the surrender penalty period has not expired. Few, however, have genuine long-term-care riders.

"It's like buying a long-term-care policy along with the annuity," said Ken Kehrer, president of Kenneth Kehrer Associates, in Princeton, N.J. "I don't know of any other product that does that."

The rider can let an annuity be used for nursing-home costs. "To have that benefit, where you actually get insurance to pay for part of the nursing home tied into the annuity, is unique," Mr. Kehrer said. "John Hancock is one of only a few long-term-care underwriters still on the scene, so they use their LTC experience to their advantage when packaging an annuity."

Boston-based John Hancock plans to launch its Unison product, which combines a variable life insurance policy with long-term-care rider, through multistate regional banks around yearend.

"We think this will be a great seller through banks, because it's like selling three products in one," said Fran Senner-Hurley, general director the financial institutions group at John Hancock. By combining long-term care with a variable life insurance product, we simplify the process of salespeople who don't come from an insurance background."

Brokers with offices in banks gravitate toward mutual funds, securities, and variable annuities, Ms. Senner-Hurley said, but a product such as Unison "will give them the opportunity to sell more life insurance," she said.

Unison is designed for baby boomers and is available with benefit amounts of $100,000 to $5 million.

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