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Mar 10, 2021 by |

Napa County and California Annuity and Financial Elder Abuse Attorneys: How Agents Target Seniors For Unsuitable Deferred Annuities And Replacement Transactions

ATTORNEY NEWSLETTER

Carriers Pay Large Commissions On Annuity Sales

High-Pressure Sales Tactics And Anxiety About The Economy

Dangers In Replacing Existing Contracts

Financial advisors and insurance agents often capitalize on the anxiety older persons have about the economy and whether they will have enough money to live on in the final years.  The COVID-19 pandemic has caused all of us to be anxious about the future but the impact on seniors has been even more serious.  Because the elderly are so vulnerable to the virus, they have been forced into isolation meant, on the one hand, to protect them but resulting, on the other, in greater vulnerability to financial predators.  With no trusted friend or family member to see and discuss personal and business matters with, they can be pressured or frankly bullied into decisions that may have disastrous financial repercussions.  One example is having an unscrupulous insurance agent or advisor sell them an expensive annuity they do not need and is very costly to get out of once they are in.  The Napa County financial elder abuse and annuity attorneys at Evans Law Firm, Inc. represent individuals over 60 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 here in Napa or throughout California. Call us today at 415-441-8669 (or toll free at 1-888-50EVANS) for a free review of your policy. 

Be Wary Of How An Agent Approaches You

“Free lunch” seminars are thankfully mostly on hold right now due to COVID-19.  But there are other questionable sales tactics that can still be used by agents targeting seniors. One is the familiar “bait and switch” maneuver, which can be a real peril with insurance sales.  Our litigators have seen cases, for example, where an agent requests an appointment for selling a modest burial policy and then makes a pitch for an expensive, complicated annuity.  Or incidences where a so-called retirement or estate planning advisors offers “planning” consultation and in fact is out to sell a deferred annuity.  One reported case[1]shows the consequences of this kind of contact.  In it an elderly couple called a firm that they thought had helped them with estate planning in the past, to update their trust.  Not long after, an individual showed up at their home and quickly went about selling the couple an annuity—one that, unlike the updated trust the couple sought, allegedly earned the agent a $9,500 commission.  According to a lawsuit the couple subsequently brought, the agent had the elderly husband sign a blank check and blank documents, ostensibly needed to modify the trust, when in fact the agent used the check and papers to move $100,000 of the couple’s money into an annuity, according to court filings.  The elderly couple had intended to use those savings for health-care expenses and emergencies, and were left with only about $14,000 in their account after the transaction. When they tried to cancel the annuity and get their money back, the carrier didn’t respond. A jury ultimately found the carrier and agent liable for financial elder abuse and negligence, and the agent for fraud.  The couple were awarded $3.1 million against the defendants.

Replacements or Exchanges Can Be Disastrous Financially

One other real snare is when an agent insists a senior should replace his or her existing annuity for a “better” one.  The pitch may seem appealing on the surface but replacements are costly and can be ruinous financially for the policyholder  –  but not the agent, who stands to earn a commission on the transaction.  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 and the other Napa financial elder abuse and annuity attorneys at Evans Law Firm represent seniors who have been sold an unsuitable annuity, or where the agent has sold a senior on a replacement or exchange that has resulted in a loss.   If you are over age 60 and have lost money as the result of a deferred annuity transaction or surrender in Napa County or elsewhere in California, you can reach Ingrid and the other Evans Law Firm attorneys at (415) 441-8669 (or toll free at 1-888-50EVANS)  or by email at <ahref=”mailto:info@evanslaw.com”>info@evanslaw.com</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

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.

[1] Evans Law Firm, Inc. was not involved in the case in any way.

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