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Oct 23, 2019 by |

California and San Francisco Annuity and Financial Elder Abuse Attorney: Understanding Annuities


Understand What An Agent Is Trying To Sell You

Resist High-Pressure Sales

Annuities Are Expensive, Complicated Insurance Products

Based on years of litigation experience, our lawyers recommend consumers, especially senior consumers, avoid annuities and certain types of life insurance contracts, like indexed universal life insurance. Research reinforces that advice: one recent study found that while consumers often hear about annuities, none of those surveyed understood how annuities work. Incomplete or even deceptive sales presentations by commission-driven agents partly explains the gap in understanding. The San Francisco annuity and financial elder abuse attorneys at Evans Law Firm, Inc. represent senior consumers who lose money on annuities through high commissions and fees, misleading information, withdrawal charges, botched replacement transactions, and tax bills. If you or someone you know is over 60 and lives in San Francisco or elsewhere in California and has lost money on an indexed annuity, call us today at 415-441-8669.

For years now we’ve been in a low-interest-rate economy where people approaching retirement search for higher returns. Volatility in the stock market scares them but low CD rates leave them looking for “better” deals. A “free lunch” invitation for retirement planning may seem enticing. Don’t be fooled. Insurance agents prey on anxiety during those presentations and push annuities as vehicles with upside potential and downside safety.

If that sound’s too good to be true to you, you’re right. Here are just some of the ways consumers lose money on annuities:

Surrender charge. If you take all or part of your money out of a deferred annuity before maturity, you will pay a surrender charge. The surrender period is a set period of time that typically lasts six to fifteen years after you purchase the annuity. Surrender charges come right out of your savings.

Tax bills and penalties. Withdrawals from annuities are taxable, typically at ordinary rates. In addition, under current tax law, if you take all or part of your money from tax-deferred annuities before you reach age 59½, you may have to pay a 10 percent penalty.

Hits on your return. Dividends on the stocks held in whatever funds your annuity is invested in, are not included in calculating your gain. In a direct mutual fund investment you would receive the benefit of those dividends.

Caps and participation rates. Annuity carriers set caps on your returns and participation percentages that limit your return to a portion of the gains made in the chosen index. Direct investment in the index would not be subject to these limitations.

Market index drop. You may lose money in some indexed annuities if the market index goes down.

Insurance company failure. Many indexed annuities promise to make payments many years into the future.  But remember that all amounts payable are subject to the ability of the insurance company to pay.  Circumstances may arise where the insurance company is unable to pay its obligations. 

If you’re considering an annuity, consult an investment professional with nothing to gain from a sale. Do not let yourself be rushed into making a quick decision. Always consult your tax advisor before you purchase, surrender or exchange an annuity as all annuity transactions have tax consequences. We do not provide investment advice at the Evans Law Firm, but we can represent you if you’ve lost money on any annuity.

Contact Us

If you are over 60 and live in California and have lost money on an indexed or other type of deferred annuity or life insurance contact Ingrid M. Evans and the other Evans Law Firm financial elder abuse, annuity and life insurance attorneys at (415) 441-8669, or by email at Our attorneys have experience with complex financial contracts and large insurance companies. We can help guide your case through a jury trial or toward an equitable settlement.


Annuities and life insurance produce large sales commissions for brokers but are often inappropriate products for consumers, especially seniors. Leading providers and distributors of life insurance and fixed, variable and fixed indexed annuities in California are listed below. We are not in any way suggesting that any of these carriers or distributors has done anything wrong. Rather, the list is provided solely as a reference for our readers.

AIG/American General Life Insurance Company

Allianz Life Insurance Company of North America

American Equity Investment Life Insurance Company

American General Life Insurance Company/AIG

American International Group, Inc. (AIG)

American National Life Insurance Company

Americo Financial Life and Annuity Insurance Company

Ameriprise Financial/RiverSource Life Insurance Company

Ameriprise Financial/Securities America, Inc.

Athene Annuity & Life Assurance Company

Athene Annuity and Life Company

Athene USA

Aviva Life Insurance Company

AXA Equitable Financial Services, LLC

AXA Equitable Life Insurance Company/AXA US

AXA Advisors, LLC

Bankers Life Insurance and Casualty Company

Berkshire Hathaway Group

Berkshire Hathaway Life Insurance Company of Nebraska

Brighthouse Financial, Inc./MetLife

Citigroup Global Markets, Inc.

Crump Life Insurance Services, Inc.

CUNA Mutual Group/CMFG Life Insurance Company

Delaware Life Insurance Company

EquiTrust Life Insurance Company

Fidelity & Guaranty Life Insurance Company

Forethought Life Insurance Company/Global Atlantic Financial Group

Genworth Financial, Inc.

Genworth Life and Annuity Insurance Company

Genworth Life Insurance Company

Global Atlantic Financial Group/Forethought Life Insurance Company

Guardian Life Insurance Company

Guggenheim Partners, LLC

Guggenheim Partners/Security Benefit Life Insurance Company

ING USA Annuity and Life Insurance Company

Jackson National Life Insurance Company

John Hancock Life Insurance Company

Legacy Marketing Group

Lincoln Benefit Life Company

Lincoln Financial Group

Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company

Merrill Lynch Life Agency Inc.

Metlife/Metropolitan Life Insurance Company/Brighthouse Financial, Inc.

Minnesota Life Insurance Company

National Life Group

National Life Insurance Company/Equity Services, Inc.

National Western Life Insurance Company

Nationwide Life Insurance Company

New York Life Insurance Company

North American Company for Life and Health Insurance

Northwestern Mutual Investment Services, LLC

Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Company

Northwestern Mutual Wealth Management Company

Oxford Life Insurance Company

Pacific Life Insurance Company

Principal Financial Group

Prudential Life Insurance Company

Raymond James Insurance Group

Reliance Standard Life Insurance Company/Tokio Marine Group

RiverSource Life Insurance Company/Ameriprise Financial

Securities America, Inc./Ameriprise Financial

Security Benefit Corporation

Security Benefit Group, Inc.

Security Benefit Life Insurance Company/Guggenheim Partners

Security Investors, LLC

Security of Denver Life Insurance Company/Voya

The Standard Life Insurance Company

Symetra Financial Corporation

Symetra Life Insurance Company

Transamerica Life Insurance Company

The United States Life Insurance Company in the City of New York

Unum Life Insurance Company of America

USAA Life Insurance Company

The Variable Annuity Life Insurance Company

Voya Financial Advisors

Voya/Reliastar Life Insurance Company

Wells Fargo Advisors

Western & Southern Financial Group

The Western & Southern Life Insurance Company

World Financial Group Insurance Agency, Inc.

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