Understand How Deferred Annuities Work
Avoid Quick Decisions And High-Pressure Sales Tactics
Ask the Right Questions And Get A Second Opinion
An annuity is an insurance contract. An insurance company agrees to pay you income at regular intervals in return for an upfront premium payment; these annuity contracts are known as deferred annuities. Annuity carriers pay commissions as high as 10 percent to insurance agents when they sell deferred annuities. Agents in turn target seniors with these sales; sometime the pitch may be to convince a senior consumer to invest all of his or her retirement savings into an annuity. Evans Law Firm, Inc. recommends seniors avoid deferred annuities because deferred annuity contracts are expensive and complicated and tie up a senior’s money for years. High-pressure or deceptive sales tactics and sales of unsuitable annuities violate the law and constitute financial elder abuse when the targeted consumer is a senior. Cal. Welf. & Inst. Code § 15610.30 (definition of financial elder abuse); Cal. Ins. §§ 790 et seq. (Unfair Insurance Practices Act) and 10509 (suitability requirement). Senior victims may be entitled to damages and an award of attorneys’ fees and expenses for bringing a case. Cal. Welf. & Inst. Code § 15657.5. If you are over 60, live in San Mateo County, San Francisco or elsewhere in California and own a deferred annuity (such as 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.
Asking The Right Questions
Annuities are complex contracts and it is easy to be misled about the benefits and risks if you do not carefully evaluate your purchase. Consider having a trusted family member or friend with you during the sales presentation, and always get a second opinion for a professional with nothing to gain from a sale. If you gather all the right information and get a second opinion you may well decide that annuities are not for you. At a minimum:
- 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.
- Even though you have a meeting with a producer, you have no obligation to buy anything. Be alert for deceptive sales practices, or a high-pressure sales pitch that urges you to make a decision immediately.
- Avoid repeated or unsolicited contacts from particular groups or producers that make you feel pressured or uncomfortable.
- Check with the California Department of Insurance to verify whether the company offering the annuity and the producer presenting the information are licensed in California, and whether there are any complaints about the company or producer’s practices.
- Check the rating of the company’s finances through Standard & Poor’s, A.M. Best Co., Moody’s Investors Services, etc. Annuities are not insured by the government like CDs and other bank deposits. The promise to pay is only as good as the carrier’s word.
- 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, illustrations, correspondence, notices, special offers and payment receipts.
- If the agent ultimately sells you the annuity, read the contract as early as possible, compare the contract with your notes and understanding of how your annuity is intended to operate. If you are 60 or older, you will have a 30-day Free Look Period to review the annuity, and you can obtain a refund if you are not satisfied with the product and you cancel during this period.
If you are over 60 and live in San Mateo County or elsewhere in the State of California and have an indexed annuity, 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:firstname.lastname@example.org”>email@example.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
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.