Variable annuities are often marketed as a good investment product because they are supposed to provide an opportunity to invest, as well as tax advantages and a death benefit which gives beneficiaries at least as much as was paid in. Unfortunately, many people who buy variable annuities discover that the tax benefits were overstated, surrender fees are astronomical and administrative fees and other costs are much higher than planned.
A San Mateo financial elder abuse attorney can provide assistance to those who invested in variable annuities and suffered from broken promises or problems with annuities that were sold under false pretenses. If you believe that you should not have invested in an annuity because of unexpected costs or other difficulties, you may find yourself going up against some of the largest insurers in the industry. After all, the top sellers of variable annuities are making billions.
Taking a Closer Look at the Top Sellers of Variable Annuities
Think Advisor reports that $140.1 billion in variable annuities were sold over the course of 2014. A full three quarters of this expansive market was dominated by just 10 insurance companies or financial service providers, who sell variable annuities, including Jackson Life; Lincoln Financial Group; AIG; TIAA-CREF; Transamerica; Prudential; AXA US; MetLife; Nationwide and Riversource Life Insurance.
Jackson Life alone sold more than $23 billion in variable annuities in 2014, and half of the top 10 variable annuity providers had more than $10 billion in annuity sales in a single year.
So, who are these companies making so much money by getting investors to buy variable annuities?
- Jackson Life is a Denver, Colorado company with more than $218 billion in assets as of 2015. Its parent organization is Prudential.
- Lincoln Financial Group paid $12.6 million to settle a multi-state examination which had been launched by insurance regulatory departments in California, North Dakota, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Pennsylvania and New Hampshire. The settlement arose because the states were investigating the improper use of the Social Security Administration’s Death Master File. The file was being used only to stop making payments on annuities, and not to search for people who should be beneficiaries of policies.
These two companies, who are respectively the number one and number two sellers of variable annuities, are far from the only providers of variable annuities to be forced to pay to settle legal troubles.
For investors who count on these and other insurers, the many lawsuits against annuity providers should leave investors wary of insurer claims. If an insurer does charge inappropriate fees, market products which aren’t right for investors, or engage in other bad business techniques, the attorneys at the Evans Law Firm, Inc. can help.