Beware of Annuity Surrenders, Churns, Replacements, Twists, and Switches
Whenever an insurance salesman or financial advisor recommends you replace or exchange an annuity you own, be sure to get a second opinion. Annuity replacements (also known as churns, exchanges, twists, or switches) often result in surrender penalties, new commissions, and possible tax liability. The salesman may be only “churning” or “twisting” your account, similar to the stock broker who buys and sells the same stocks over and over in a brokerage account. Churning is prohibited by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), the independent agency that regulates America’s financial industry. Despite the FINRA prohibition, churning still occurs in the annuity industry.
The Santa Clara County and California annuity and financial elder abuse attorneys at Evans Law Firm Inc. represent clients who have suffered surrender charges and tax liabilities as a result of improper annuity replacements or exchanges by commission-driven brokers. If you or a loved one is over 60 and lives in California and has been a victim of securities fraud or financial elder abuse, or are headed toward a FINRA arbitration with your broker or financial advisor, contact the Santa Clara County and California annuity and financial elder abuse attorneys at the Evans Law Firm at (415) 441-8669, and we can help.
Since producing agents and brokers receive big commissions on new sales, in a replacement or churn the broker induces a client to replace or exchange an existing product for a new one. The broker then receives a commission on the “sale” of the new or replacement product. Some replacements qualify as so-called “1035 exchanges” where the IRS does not tax the surrender of the existing policy as long as that policy is exchanged for a similar one and the policyholder does not withdraw cash from the exchange. A 1035 exchange requires extra paperwork and can result in delays as far as commission payments are concerned and brokers often do not elect 1035 treatment so that their commission is paid sooner. Instead the agent “conceals” the replacement and the application is treated as a new purchase application.
In two 2017 enforcement cases, FINRA discovered that the clients had been put into new, unsuitable annuities with higher fees, had incurred large surrender charges on surrender of their existing policies, and had incurred tax liabilities because the brokers had not elected 1035 treatment for the exchanges. FINRA suspended the two brokers responsible and ordered one to disgorge nearly $186,000 in commissions he had been paid on the abusive transactions. Commissions on annuities and life insurance are always sizeable and are paid up front. In any insurance purchase you consider remember that it will take a long time for you to earn back your money paid out for commissions. FINRA is keeping a close eye on replacement activity and you should too.
If you or a loved one has been a victim of securities fraud or financial elder abuse contact Santa Clara County and California annuity and financial elder abuse attorney Ingrid Evans and the other attorneys at the Evans Law Firm today at (415) 441-8669, or by email at <a href=”mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org”>email@example.com</a>. Our attorneys have experience with complex securities cases, FINRA arbitrations, and mediations; and complicated financial contracts and large insurance companies. We can help guide your case through a jury trial, FINRA arbitration, or toward an equitable settlement. We also handle cases involving physical and financial elder abuse, other types of qui tam and whistleblower cases, nursing home abuse, whole life insurance and universal life insurance, and indexed, variable, and fixed annuities.
Some of the major annuity and life insurance providers in Santa Clara County and throughout California are listed below. We are not in any way suggesting that these carriers have been involved in any wrongdoing whatsoever. Rather, the list is provided solely for our readers’ reference.
Allianz Life Insurance Company of North America
Allstate Life Insurance Company
American Equity Investment Life Holding Company
American General Life Insurance Company
American National Life Insurance Company
Ameriprise Financial/RiverSource Life Insurance Company
Athene Annuity and Life Company
AXA Equitable Life Insurance Company
Bankers Life Insurance and Casualty Company
EquiTrust Life Insurance Company
Fidelity & Guaranty Life Insurance Company
Forethought Life Insurance Company/Global Atlantic Financial Group
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
Life Insurance of the SouthWest/National Life Group
Lincoln Financial Group/The Lincoln National Life Insurance Company
MassMutual/Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company
Metlife/Metropolitan Life Insurance Company
Midland National Life Insurance Company
Mutual of Omaha/United of Omaha Life Insurance Company
National Life Group/Life Insurance of the SouthWest
New York Life Insurance Company
Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Company
Pacific Life Insurance Company
Principal Life Insurance Company
Pruco/Prudential Life Insurance Company
RiverSource Life Insurance Company/Ameriprise Financial
Security Benefit Life Insurance Company/Guggenheim Partners
Transamerica Life Insurance Company
United of Omaha Life Insurance Company/Mutual of Omaha
Unum Life Insurance Company of America
Voya/Reliastar Life Insurance Company
 Evans Law Firm Inc. does not give tax advice but our lawyers represent clients who have suffered tax losses on annuity surrenders, replacements, and other transactions.