Seniors Targeted For Annuities
Surrender Penalties And Annual Fees
Return Calculations Favor Carriers Not Policyholders
Beware of insurance agents who continually pressure you to buy an annuity, or exchange a contract you already own. Sometimes the sales pitch is made at free lunch seminars or receptions. Take a pass on invitations to such events because they often end in high-pressure sales tactics of a “limited time only deal” or other questionable hook. Evans Law Firm, Inc. recommends against deferred annuities because we have seen older consumers lose money on deferred annuities due to sales commissions, withdrawal (or surrender) penalties, fees, and returns on invested premiums considerably lower than advertised. Sales and recommended surrenders and exchanges of deferred annuities to seniors may constitute financial elder abuse claims under Cal. Welf. & Inst. Code § 15610.30. If you are over 60, and live in Orange County or elsewhere in California and have experienced an economic loss as a result of the sale of an unsuitable annuity or other investment product, including a fixed indexed annuity, call us today at 415-441-8669 (or toll free at 1-888-50EVANS) for a free review of your policy.
Annuities are complex contracts and it is easy to misunderstand or be misled about the benefits and risks if you do not carefully evaluate your purchase. We recommend you have a trusted family member or friend with you at any meeting you have with an insurance agent or any financial advisor. Keep in mind the following:
- 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.
- Be alert for deceptive sales practices, or a highpressure sales pitch that requires you to make a decision immediately.
- Avoid repeated or unsolicited contacts from particular groups or producers that make you feel pressured or uncomfortable.
- Check the rating of the company’s finances through Standard & Poor’s, A.M. Best Co., Moody’s Investors Services, etc. An annuity is only as strong as the insurance company that issues it.
- Take notes about what the producer tells you and confirm that the information is in the materials promoting the annuity. Keep copies of all documents, correspondence, notices, special offers and payment receipts.
Specific Disadvantages For Seniors
Here are some specific disadvantages for seniors:
- Surrender Charge/Withdrawal Penalties: Surrender charges can be as high as 15% of an annuity account value if you leave after one year, and the fees may continue for ten years or more. In addition to the surrender charge, you may face a tax bill on the amount surrendered at ordinary income tax rates. Contributions to an annuity are tax-deferred, but any withdrawals you make will be taxed at your regular income tax rate, not the long-term capital gains tax rate.
- Participation rate: You will never see the entire gain of your selected index because your return is limited by a “participation rate” that protects the carrier but reduces your return. If your contract has a 80% participation rate, for example, you automatically lose 20% of an index gain that you would have had with a direct investment in the chosen index.
- Rate cap: In this scenario, let’s assume the S&P 500 grows by 8% over a year, and your contract has a 5% rate cap. The result would be that your contract receives a 5% return, since the rate cap limits how much your contract can earn.
- Fees: The annual contract fees on annuities also erode the return on your premium dollars. Cumulatively, the annual fees may be as high as 3-5% which on a contract with an advertised 7% return can be half or more of your promised gain.
If you are over 60 and live in Orange County, San Francisco or elsewhere in the Bay Area or throughout California and have lost money on a deferred annuity or indexed universal life insurance contact Ingrid M. Evans at Evans Law Firm, Inc. 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>. Ingrid will pursue all remedies available to you against all parties responsible, including restitution (getting your money back), extra damages (to punish the fraudulent conduct) and awards of attorneys’ fees and costs to the senior forced to bring an action against the wrongdoers.
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.