Pioneer Funds Distributor Inc. has launched a variable annuity that includes some exotic investment options.

The Vision 2 annuity lets buyers choose from eight Pioneer Funds ranging from conservative balanced and income portfolios to the company's Swiss franc bond fund and a real estate fund.

First Allmerica Financial Life Insurance Co. underwrites the annuity's insurance wrapper. The product is being sold in 40 states and is pending regulatory approval for sale in the rest of the country.

Pioneer manages more than $15 billion of mutual fund assets.

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Banks are not doing enough to tap the growing market of underinsured baby boomers, according to one industry expert.

David T. Phillips, president of InsuranceQuote Services, Phoenix, said 52% of Americans do not have life insurance, though today's term life policies cost a fourth as much as those of 10 years ago. He added that most consumers have less than half the coverage they need.

"Consumers are more educated, and they are ready to buy insurance," Mr. Phillips said. "But they don't know how to get it."

He advised banks to be more aggressive marketers - and to be more patient for cash flows. "The profits take time," he said.

InsuranceQuote provides rate information and processing systems to underwriters and sellers of insurance.

- Compiled by William Plasencia

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