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Aug 9, 2021 by |

Contra Costa County Annuity and Financial Elder Abuse Attorneys: Questionable Sales Tactics And Sales Of Unsuitable Annuities To Seniors

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Questionable Annuity Sales Tactics Targeting Seniors

Sales Of Unsuitable Annuities To Seniors As Financial Elder Abuse

Economic Loss From Exchange Or Replacement Transactions

Insurance agents sell all insurance products for commissions.  Obviously, some forms of insurance, like health insurance and homeowner’s insurance are essential, but unsuitable insurance products exist too and often produce even higher sales commissions.  Unsuitable insurance products for senior consumers especially include certain deferred annuities and universal life insurance policies.  Selling such unsuitable products to seniors may constitute financial elder abuse, both in the economic injury inherent in the products themselves and the process by which they are sold.  We have seen seniors injured by the terms of the deferred annuity or universal life policy sold to them and have also seen the questionable sales tactics agents employ to close these transactions. In fact, Evans Law Firm, Inc. recommends against annuities especially for seniors, because commissions, fees and surrender penalties reduce returns and make it expensive to get your money out if you need it. Resist the pitch that these annuities are tax-deferred; you already have one tax-deferred annuity for retirement which is your Social Security savings, and you can also enjoy the benefit of tax deferral from IRAs, SEP IRAs, or 401(k) plans invested directly in mutual funds. Other investments like bonds may offer the predictable income you seek without the annual fees, sales commissions, and withdrawal penalties.  If you’re over 60 and live in Alameda County or elsewhere in California and have suffered a loss due to cancellation, replacement, full or partial surrender, or high fees on any type of annuity, call Evans Law Firm, Inc. today at 415-441-8669 or toll free at 1-888-50EVANS (888-503-8267) for a free review of your policy.  A list of major carriers in California appears below.

Economic Loss From Deferred Annuities

Deferred annuities are illiquid, expensive and often perform poorly when it comes to return on your money.  The fee provisions and contract terms for calculating return and policy “value” are highly complex and we have seen policyholders see zero return on their premium dollars even where the market overall is thriving.  And unlike other investments that allow you to move your funds to more attractive investments over time, deferred annuities lock you in with penalties for withdrawals.  In fact, this is the principal reason why deferred annuities are so dangerous and inappropriate for older Americans.  Heavy surrender penalties apply if the senior needs his or her money back before the annuitization period begins. If you buy at age 65, you’re generally looking at a 10- to 15-year surrender period, with a penalty as high as 25 percent at the front end. This means that you cannot withdraw your money without penalty until you turn 80!  While you wait, the way your return is calculated also works against you. In rising markets, policyholders only share in the growth up to a predetermined cap and that return is further limited by the “participation rate” that allows the annuity holder to reap only a percentage of the market’s total gains. Some “participation rates” are as low as 65% of a fund’s real return.  Other provisions buried in the contracts allow the company to further skim off gains.

Questionable Sales Tactics As Financial Elder Abuse

Agents often present an attractive “teaser” interest rate that lasts only for a short time, and the maintenance fees and other creative administrative fees buried in the contracts reduce the amount the annuitant actually receives.  Typical sales tactics include ads touting these teaser rates in local papers or seminar invitations for seminars on living trusts or similar estate planning “advice.”  Through flyers or online pitches, agents may gather personal information from seniors about their assets, which agents later use for phone contacts, still under the guise of a financial planner. Usually, the “solution” the agent suggests for your financial plan is an annuity.  

One of the worst and most pernicious practices is the pitch that you need to exchange an existing annuity for another, newer contract. There are some protections for seniors here.  California law forbids insurance agents from recommending an exchange of an existing annuity for a new one if the transaction “requires the insured to pay a surrender charge for the annuity that is being replaced, where purchase of the annuity does not confer a substantial financial benefit over the life of the policy to the consumer, so that a reasonable person would believe the purchase is unnecessary.” Cal. Ins. Code § 10509.914(c)(emphasis added).  Our financial elder abuse and annuity litigators have represented senior consumers in many cases where an agent has talked a senior into an exchange or replacement of an existing contract and the senior has suffered serious economic injury as a result of surrender charges on the existing policy and heavy tax liability for the surrender.  Never agree to any exchange, replacement or surrender of an annuity without consulting your tax advisor.

Contact Us

Ingrid M. Evans represents seniors who have suffered loss as a result of the sale of an unsuitable deferred annuity or universal life insurance contract or been exploited by questionable sales tactics.   If you are over age 60 and have lost money as the result of a deferred annuity transaction or surrender in San Francisco, Contra Costa County or elsewhere in California, call Ingrid today at (415) 441-8669 (or toll free at 1-888-50EVANS)  or by email at <ahref=”mailto:info@evanslaw.com”>info@evanslaw.com</a> for a free review of your policy and sales materials.

Some significant issuers and distributors of fixed, variable and fixed indexed deferred annuities in California are listed below.  We are not in any way suggesting that any of these carriers or distributors has done anything wrong.  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

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

Brighthouse Financial, Inc./MetLife

EquiTrust Life Insurance Company

Fidelity & Guaranty Life Insurance Company

Genworth Financial, Inc.

Genworth Life and Annuity Insurance Company

Genworth 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

Lincoln Benefit Life Company

Lincoln Financial Group

Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company

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

Minnesota Life Insurance Company

Nationwide Investor Services Corporation (NISC)

Nationwide Life and Annuity Insurance Company

Nationwide Life Insurance Company

New York Life Insurance Company

Northwestern Mutual Investment Services, LLC

Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Company

Northwestern Mutual Wealth Management Company

Pacific Life & Annuity Company

Pacific Life Insurance Company

PacLife

Security Benefit Corporation

Security Benefit Group, Inc.

Security Benefit Life Insurance Company/Guggenheim Partners

Security Investors, LLC

Security of Denver Life Insurance Company/Voya

Transamerica Life Insurance Company

Voya Financial Advisors

Voya/Reliastar Life Insurance Company

World Financial Group Insurance Agency, Inc.

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