of America annuity and insurance products.

On Thursday the Columbus, Ohio, insurer said it had dropped insurance charges and sales loads on its Next Generation flexible-premium, variable life product, from a combined 250 basis points to 50 basis points. The drop was made possible by increasing life expectancies and economies of scale, said Jeff Botti, a spokesman.

"We're packaging some enhancements in a way that we hope will help consumers better save for their retirement," Mr. Botti said.

For investors who like to dribble money into annuities, Nationwide increased the interest it pays on money waiting to be invested. For three of the actively sold variable annuities, the new dollar-cost-averaging option pays 10% on money being invested over six months and 8% for balances being invested over a year. The other two actively sold annuities offer a rate of 6% for new money being invested over one year.

An additional investment option, the Dreyfus European Equity Portfolio, has been added to three variable annuities and some variable life products. The portfolio is managed by Newton Investment Management, a division of Mellon Bank Corp.'s Dreyfus Corp. unit. It invests about 80% of assets in the 300 largest European companies.

-- Michael O'D. Moore

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