HARTFORD, Conn. (AP)—In a bid to cut down on risk, Hartford Financial Services Group Inc. has offered some of its annuity clients cash for their contracts.

Shedding variable annuities would help Hartford reduce risk because the financial contracts pay out according to market performance, but often include guarantees of minimum payouts. That means declining stock markets can put a cash pinch on insurance companies that wrote too many of the policies.

"We are making this offer because high market volatility, declines in the equity markets and the low interest rate environment make continuing to provide the Lifetime Income Builder II rider costly to us," Hartford said in a Securities and Exchange Commission filing on Thursday.

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