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May 30, 2019 by |

Marin County and California Annuities and Financial Elder Abuse Attorney: Sales Commissions on Annuities


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[1] 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 ( 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.

Contact Us

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=””></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

Athene USA

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.

[1] 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.

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