Agents Always Get Paid
How Commissions May Be Hidden
Our litigators often explain in our blogs why we think annuities are not a good investment for seniors. Annuities are complex, hold your money hostage to withdrawal penalties, and charge high commissions and fees, among other downsides. Fees and commissions may be hidden in the contract you’re sold. An agent may go so far as to claim that he or she does not charge a fee. Don’t buy it. Make no mistake: while commission levels may vary, agents always get paid for selling annuities. The Marin County annuity and financial elder abuse attorneys at Evans Law Firm, Inc. represent individuals who have lost money in annuities, indexed universal and whole life insurance, and other unsuitable investments through surrenders, high fees, and benefits that do not pay out as advertised. Most of the victims we represent are seniors. If an agent or broker has sold you an inappropriate product such as life insurance or an annuity and you’re over 60 and live in Marin County or elsewhere in California, call us today at (415441-8669 and we can help.
A simple rule of thumb to remember about annuity commissions is that the longer the surrender charges, the higher the commissions paid to the agent. For example, an indexed annuity with a 10-year surrender charge period pays a higher commission than an indexed annuity with a 5-year surrender charge. This rule applies across the board, and primarily addresses deferred annuities like a variable, indexed, or fixed rate contract. The other rule of thumb that holds true with annuities is that the more complex the annuity is, the higher the commission to the agent. Variable annuities and fixed indexed annuities are complex in design and pay a high commission.
Your hard-earned savings are yours. Don’t buy into commission-driven products like life insurance and deferred annuities that line other people’s pockets and leave you holding the bag. Commissions and fees come out of your money, no question about it. If you are considering an annuity here are some things you should keep in mind:
- Ask specifically what the agent’s sales commission will be and pay attention to annual maintenance costs. It takes a long time to recoup upfront commissions and yearly fees can reduce or eliminate advertised returns. One investment website (financialmentor.com) estimates that variable annuities can cost 50-100 percent more in fees and surrender charges than direct mutual fund investments.
- Avoid contracts that offer a premium bonus. This is a phantom benefit that neither you nor your heirs are ever likely to realize.
- Know that annuities are illiquid; withdrawals are subject to surrender charges and tax penalties. In some contracts the penalty period lasts as long as fifteen years!
- Consult your tax professional before you buy; the benefits of tax deferment are lost if you need to withdraw your money. Gains on annuities are taxed as normal income – not at lower capital gains rates – upon withdrawal.
- Agents receive big upfront sales commissions on life insurance and annuities they sell you. It takes a long time to recoup that money. CDs and mutual fund investments may have no or substantially lower sales commissions.
- Review any proposal with a professional with nothing to gain from your purchase.
If you are over 60 and live in Marin County or elsewhere in California and have been sold an inappropriate or unsuitable investment product or suffered loss on an annuity or life insurance surrender or replacement, contact Ingrid M. Evans and the other annuity and financial elder abuse attorneys at the Evans Law Firm for a free review of your policy at (415) 441-8669, or by email at <a href=”mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org”>email@example.com</a>. Our attorneys have experience with complex indexed universal and whole life policies and annuity contracts and cases against large insurance companies. We can help guide your case through a jury trial or toward an equitable settlement. We also handle cases involving physical and financial elder abuse, nursing home abuse, whole life insurance and universal life insurance, and indexed, variable, and fixed annuities.
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 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. 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
Ameriprise Financial/RiverSource Life Insurance Company
Ameriprise Financial/Securities America, Inc.
Athene Annuity & Life Assurance Company
Athene Annuity and Life Company
Aviva Life Insurance Company
AXA Equitable Life Insurance Company/AXA US
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/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
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 Group, Inc.
Security Benefit Life Insurance Company/Guggenheim Partners
Security Investors, LLC
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/Reliastar Life Insurance Company
Wells Fargo Advisors
Western & Southern Financial Group
The Western & Southern Life Insurance Company
World Financial Group Insurance Agency, Inc.
 While we do not provide tax or investment advice at Evans Law Firm, we do represent consumers who have suffered losses from fraud, misrepresentations, inappropriate sales of unsuitable investments, and other misconduct.