Life's perilous journey

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Next time you talk to your life insurance agent, ask if they have sold any quanto Asian put options lately. The blank stare and pregnant pause that is likely to follow may suggest the answer is no, but any such inference would probably be wrong. Variable annuity products that include guarantees - often referred to as riders - have been a significant source of profits for US life insurance firms over the past few years. And although they are not referred to as such, the various guaran