Deferred Annuities Not A Prudent Investment For Seniors
Dangers In The Details
Beware Of High Surrender Charges
Deferred annuities come in various forms, but insurance agents target senior consumers with one type of deferred annuity in particular known as the fixed indexed annuity (FIAs) marketed under different trade names depending on the issuing carrier and the companies the agent represents. FIAs are sold as sources of safe, “guaranteed” income for the future; agents may induce you to liquidate other investments or exchange an existing annuity for this “safe” opportunity. Do not let yourself be pressured into any sale. We at Evans Law Firm, Inc. advise against FIAs (and other forms of deferred annuities) for seniors because they are expensive, complex and costly to get out of once you’re in. Agents receive substantial commissions on any sale or exchange of FIAs or other annuities. If the agent recommends an exchange of an existing contract, the transaction may result in surrender penalties on the old policy and large, unexpected, tax bills as a result of the surrender. Evans Law Firm, Inc. represents individuals over 60 here in Los Angeles or Orange County or elsewhere in California who have suffered a loss due to cancellation, replacement, full or partial surrender, or high fees connected with a deferred annuity or other unsuitable insurance product. Call us today at 415-441-8669 (or toll free at 1-888-50EVANS) for a free review of your policy.
Commissions, Fees, and Surrender Charges
Whenever an agent sells you a new contract or convinces you to replace an existing contract, he or she will receive a commission on the transaction. Sometimes, the commission is as high as 10%; that’s your money taken right off the top and put into someone else’s pocket. The agent may try and convince you that a “premium bonus” under the contract will essentially reimburse you for that expense but. Premium bonuses are marketing gimmicks and you may never withdraw or receive the promised “bonus” back. FIAs also have administrative fees, mortality and expense fees, rider fees for enhancements to policies, and subaccount fees charged against your return. Combined these fees can run as high as 2-3% and will erode or wipe out any return you may expect on your money. But the biggest danger for senior buyers is surrender charges which the carrier applies whenever you make more withdrawals than you’re allotted. Your insurance company could limit withdrawals particularly during the early years of your contract. Surrender fees are often as high as 15% and can apply for periods up to ten years or more. If you want to move your money to another investment or need it for an emergency, the surrender charge will reduce the amount you receive.
Understand How Return Calculations Work
Returns on any premium dollars you put into FIAs are determined by methods that do not benefit you. First, returns are capped at a percentage which will be less than the fund’s real return in any given year; so, for example, if a selected index fund grows by 12%, your gain may be capped at 7% and you are denied the true growth in the index. Second, dividends on the stocks in the fund are not reinvested as with a direct investment in the fund; reinvested dividends are a major source of growth in any stock fund and the “power” of reinvested dividends is lost to you in an FIA. Third, any gains you receive are limited by the policy’s “participation rate.” For example, if you have a participation rate of 80%, your investments will only grow by 80% of the amount that the index fund grew. Direct mutual fund investments do not carry these caps and limitations, and if you make your mutual fund investment through an IRA or other tax-deferred vehicle, you will also reap the benefits of tax deferral. Annuity investments on the other hand, always have tax consequences so never buy or surrender or replace an existing annuity without first consulting your tax advisor.
Replacements or Exchanges Are Costly
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.
If you are over age 60 and have lost money as the result of a deferred annuity transaction or surrender call Ingrid M. Evans at (415) 441-8669 (or toll free at 1-888-50EVANS) or by email at <ahref=”mailto:email@example.com”>firstname.lastname@example.org</a>..
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
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
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.