Penalties For Accessing Funds
Loss Of Control Of Investment
Sales Commissions And Contract Fees
Evans Law Firm, Inc. generally recommends against deferred annuities for older consumers because they are expensive and complicated and because these contracts tie up a senior’s money for years. Popular talk show advisor Suze Orman put it this way on Oprah:
Q: My financial adviser suggested that I invest in index annuities. Are they safe?
Suze: I’m not a fan of index annuities. These financial instruments, which are sold by insurance companies, are typically held for a set number of years and pay out based on the performance of an index like the S&P 500. (Be advised that insurers aren’t necessarily transparent about how they calculate any gains credited to your annuity.) They do offer a guaranteed return, but it can be under the rate of inflation, and there are caps on the amount of interest you can earn. Plus, if you don’t want to keep an annuity for its entire term, you could lose 10 percent or more of your investment to a surrender charge. Honestly, I’d be suspicious of any adviser who wants you to go this route. Instead, I’d recommend that you stick to your workplace retirement plan, if you have that option. You can contribute up to $17,500 this year ($23,000 if you are at least 50). If you don’t have a company 401(k) or you have more funds to invest, you can set aside $5,500 ($6,500 if you are at least 50) in a traditional or Roth IRA.
If you are over 60, live in San Francisco or elsewhere in the Bay Area or throughout the State of California and own a deferred annuity, call us today at 415-441-8669 (or toll free at 1-888-50EVANS) for a free review of your policy.
Asking The Right Questions
In addition to these downsides, some insurance agents employ aggressive sales tactics to rush a senior into a transaction. The sale and the tactics employed may constitute violations of insurance laws and elder protections. Cal. Weld. & Inst. Code § 15610.30 (definition of financial elder abuse); Cal. Ins. § 790 et seq. (Unfair Insurance Practices Act). Senior victims may sue for damages and other relief including awards of attorneys’ fees and expenses for bringing your case. Cal. Welf. & Inst. Code § 15657.5.
At a minimum always slow the process down, get a second opinion (from a professional with nothing to gain from sale) and be sure to think about a few very important things:
- Ask your producer, or the company for an explanation of anything you do not understand. Make sure that the person you talk to answers your questions to your satisfaction.
- Ask for a complete listing of fees and commissions before agreeing to buy anything presented as an “investment product”. Understand contract restrictions, such as surrender penalties or administrative fees.
- Compare similar products from several companies using the criteria presented above. Remember, even though you have a meeting with a producer, you have no obligation to buy anything.
- Avoid repeated or unsolicited contacts from particular producers that make you feel pressured.
- Check the rating of the company’s finances through Standard & Poor’s, A.M. Best Co., Moody’s Investors Services, etc. Annuities are not government-insured investments like bank deposits and CDs. The promise to pay is only as good as the insurer’s ability to do so.
- Take notes about what the producer tells you and keep copies of all documents, correspondence, notices, special offers and payment receipts.
- Ask for and read Disclosure Statements offered by the producer or the company and make sure you understand what the statements say about the annuity you are being sold.
If you are over 60 and live in Marin or elsewhere in the Bay Area or State of California and have a deferred annuity or universal life insurance contract, we can review your contract for free. You can reach Ingrid M. Evans at Evans Law Firm, Inc. at (415) 441-8669, or toll free at 1-888-50EVANS or by email at <a href=”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.