§ 2550.404a-4Selection of annuity providers—safe harbor for individual account plans.
(1) This section establishes a safe harbor for satisfying the fiduciary duties under section 404(a)(1)(B) of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA), 29 U.S.C. 1104-1114, in selecting an annuity provider and contract for benefit distributions from an individual account plan. For guidance concerning the selection of an annuity provider for defined benefit plans see 29 CFR 2509.95-1.
(2) This section sets forth an optional means for satisfying the fiduciary responsibilities under section 404(a)(1)(B) of ERISA with respect to the selection of an annuity provider or contract for benefit distributions. This section does not establish minimum requirements or the exclusive means for satisfying these responsibilities.
(b)Safe harbor. The selection of an annuity provider for benefit distributions from an individual account plan satisfies the requirements of section 404(a)(1)(B) of ERISA if the fiduciary:
(1) Engages in an objective, thorough and analytical search for the purpose of identifying and selecting providers from which to purchase annuities;
(2) Appropriately considers information sufficient to assess the ability of the annuity provider to make all future payments under the annuity contract;
(3) Appropriately considers the cost (including fees and commissions) of the annuity contract in relation to the benefits and administrative services to be provided under such contract;
(4) Appropriately concludes that, at the time of the selection, the annuity provider is financially able to make all future payments under the annuity contract and the cost of the annuity contract is reasonable in relation to the benefits and services to be provided under the contract; and
(5) If necessary, consults with an appropriate expert or experts for purposes of compliance with the provisions of this paragraph (b).
(c)Time of selection. For purposes of paragraph (b) of this section, the “time of selection” may be either:
(1) The time that the annuity provider and contract are selected for distribution of benefits to a specific participant or beneficiary; or
(2) The time that the annuity provider is selected to provide annuity contracts at future dates to participants or beneficiaries, provided that the selecting fiduciary periodically reviews the continuing appropriateness of the conclusion described in paragraph (b)(4) of this section, taking into account the factors described in paragraphs (b)(2), (3) and (5) of this section. For purposes of this paragraph (c)(2), a fiduciary is not required to review the appropriateness of this conclusion with respect to any annuity contract purchased for any specific participant or beneficiary.