Fair and Objective Annuity Reviews

Are You Sure an Annuity is Right for You? Are you getting the whole truth from a commission driven insurance agent? Stop! Get all the facts! Then decide!

Best of America Achiever Variable Annuity From Nationwide Review

Ready, Set, Go! Today we take a look at the Best of America Achiever Annuity Variable Annuity.  If you have read any other reviews here than you know that I am not a big fan of variable annuities because of  the fact that:  they typically have high fees + they expose the principle balance to market downside + are usually very complex fee and payout structures + they usually contain onerous withdrawal penalties.  Is the Best of America Achiever Annuity Variable Annuity any different?  In my opinion it isn’t, it only attempts to look like it is.  I did make a promise to another analyst here at AnnuityInvestigator that I would be fair minded in this review and discuss the potential positive aspects of the Best of America Achiever Annuity Variable Annuity.   (Who says I’m not fair minded? I think I am being fair minded, I just don’t like variable annuities that much compared to other options).  Anyway, here goes. Let’s start with a quote from Nationwide’s Best of America Achiever Variable Annuity performance report: “Variable annuities are for long-term investing; they’re not appropriate for short-term financial goals. And variable annuities have fees and charges that include mortality and expense fees, administrative fees and contract maintenance fees. These fees are a percentage of the investment account value.” Is the Best of America Achiever Variable Annuity from Nationwide right for you? Let’s dive into the details and take a look.   Understanding Variable Annuities and Variable Annuities vs Fixed Index Annuities To get started an annuity is just a contract between a person (like  you) and an insurance company.  Usually people who are looking into annuities are... read more

Lincoln Financial Group Investor Advantage Variable Annuities

Let’s Get Started The Lincoln Financial Group Investor Advantage Variable Annuities are a group of variable annuities offered by Lincoln Financial Group which are part of their Lincoln Investor Advantage suite.   Currently there are 4 variable annuity choices in the Lincoln Investor Advantage suite and all 4 choices have very similar sounding names and operate mostly the same way with just slight variations.  The 4 choices are: (1) the Lincoln Investor Advantage B-Share, (2) the Lincoln Investor Advantage C-Share, (3) the Lincoln Investor Advantage Fee-Based, and (4) the Lincoln Investor Advantage RIA.  I will not get into the slight differences between the 4 choices,  but feel free to contact us here at Annuity Investigator if you want more details on the differences. Let’s start with a brief overview of variable annuities before we get into the details of the pros-and-cons of the Lincoln Financial Group Investor Advantage Variable Annuities suite.   What Is a Variable Annuity? A variable annuity is a contract between a person (like you) and an insurance company. It’s a generally designed as a long-term investment for retirement purposes. The person opening the variable annuity account places money in professionally managed investment portfolios, where potential growth can accumulate in a tax-deferred manner. When the person who opened the variable annuity account retires, the monies that potentially accumulated in the variable annuity can be used to generate a stream of regular income payments that are guaranteed for as long as they live. Additionally some variable annuities  may provide a guaranteed death benefit for the persons beneficiaries.   How Does a Variable Annuity Differ From a Fixed Index Annuity? Although the financial goals and objectives for people interested in annuities are usually quite similar, the... read more

Jackson National Elite Access Variable Annuity

Let’s Look Deeper The Jackson National Elite Access Variable Annuity is a variable annuity as the name suggests.  If you are not familiar with the term, an annuity is just a contract or agreement between a person (like you) and an insurance company.  Commonly people who research (and may ultimately end up investing in) annuities are looking to grow their money, and for the lifetime income stream option that many annuities offer. The lifetime income stream is called a living benefit because you get the benefit while you are living.  Keep in mind that the lifetime income stream is a separate feature from the growing your money feature. Though many (most) fixed index and variable annuities offer both features, the two features are distinct and separate and having one does not guarantee that an annuity has the other.  In fact the Jackson National Elite Access Variable Annuity does not have the option of providing a lifetime income stream, the Jackson National Elite Access Variable Annuity is designed for market growth purposes only. You: You mentioned fixed index annuities, I have heard of them.  What is the difference between fixed index annuities and variable annuities? Me: With fixed index annuities the growth of your money is tied to an index like the S&P 500 Index.  Your money is not actually in the market so it is never at risk due to market downturns.   So what this means is that if the market goes up your money can go up, but if the market goes down your money won’t follow the market down. Me: With variable annuities your money is at risk of being lost.  Your money is... read more

Jackson National Perspective II Variable Annuity

A Fair-Minded Review Today we take a look at the Jackson National Perspective II Variable Annuity.  If you have read any other reviews here than you know that I am not a big fan of variable annuities because of  the fact that they typically have high fees,  they expose the your money to market downside risk, they usually have very complex terms and conditions and they usually have high surrender fees (lump sum withdrawal penalties).   Is the Jackson National Perspective II Variable Annuity any different?  In my opinion it isn’t, it only attempts to look like it is.  So let’s take a look and then you decide.       What Is a Variable Annuity? A variable annuity is a contract between a person (like you) and an insurance company. It’s a generally designed as a long-term investment for retirement purposes. The person opening the variable annuity account places money in professionally managed investment portfolios, where potential growth can accumulate in a tax-deferred manner. When the person who opened the variable annuity account retires, the monies that potentially accumulated in the variable annuity can be used to generate a stream of regular income payments that are guaranteed for as long as they live. Additionally some variable annuities  may provide a guaranteed death benefit for the persons beneficiaries.   How Does a Variable Annuity Differ From a Fixed Index Annuity? Although the financial goals and objectives for people typically interested in annuities are usually quite similar, the way different types of annuities help people achieve those goals and objectives can be completely different.  Fixed index annuities can provide a guaranteed income stream for life, well so can variable annuities.   Fixed index... read more

Prudential Defined Income Variable Annuity

Details, Details, Details Today we tackle the Prudential Defined Income Variable Annuity.  If you have read any other reviews here than you know that I am not a big fan of variable annuities because of  the fact that:  they typically have high fees + they expose the principle balance to market downside + are usually very complex fee and payout structures + they usually contain onerous withdrawal penalties.  Is the Prudential Defined Income Variable Annuity any different?  In my opinion it isn’t, it only attempts to look like it is.  I did make a promise to another analyst here at AnnuityInvestigator that I would be fair minded in this review and discuss the potential positive aspects of the Prudential Defined Income Variable Annuity.   (Who says I’m not fair minded? I think I am being fair minded, I just don’t like variable annuities that much compared to other options).  Anyway, here goes.   What Is a Variable Annuity? A variable annuity is a contract between a person (like you) and an insurance company. It’s a generally designed as a long-term investment for retirement purposes. The person opening the variable annuity account places money in professionally managed investment portfolios, where potential growth can accumulate in a tax-deferred manner. When the person who opened the variable annuity account retires, the monies that potentially accumulated in the variable annuity can be used to generate a stream of regular income payments that are guaranteed for as long as they live. Additionally some variable annuities  may provide a guaranteed death benefit for the persons beneficiaries.   How Does a Variable Annuity Differ From a Fixed Index Annuity? Although the financial goals and objectives for people... read more

Metlife Preferred Plus Variable Annuity

Understanding Variable Annuities and Variable Annuities vs Fixed Index Annuities To get started an annuity is just a contract between a person (like  you) and an insurance company.  Usually people who are looking into annuities are looking for certain contractually guaranteed financial terms and/or outcomes.  Most often people who are interested in annuities are attracted by the guaranteed lifetime income stream that annuities can provide and usually they are also seeking to grow their money; which potentially is something else that annuities can provide.  Additionally they may be interested in other features like death benefits or in-home health care benefits that some annuities may offer.   Apples and Oranges Although the financial goals and objectives for people interested in annuities are usually quite similar, the way different types of annuities help people achieve those goals and objectives can be completely different.  Fixed index annuities can provide a guaranteed income stream for life.  Variable annuities can also provide a guaranteed income stream for life.   Additionally fixed index annuities can grow your money.  Well variable annuities can grow your money too.  What’s the difference? With fixed index annuities your money is never at risk due to market downturns.   So what this means is that if the market goes up your money can go up, but if the market goes down your money won’t follow the market down. With variable annuities your money is at risk of being lost, your money will follow the market down.  Worst case? Your money is all gone.  Is that a probable or like scenario? No, but be aware of potential.  However just like with the fixed index annuity your money can follow... read more

Aviva BalancedAllocation Annuity 12

  A Fair-Minded Review This review is going to be a little different from other reviews because this annuity is a little different from other annuities.  After thinking and pondering about how to write about the Aviva BalancedAllocation Annuity I decided to concentrate just on the Aviva BalancedAllocation Annuity 12 because it is the most popular.   The Aviva BalancedAllocation Annuity exists in two forms the Aviva BalancedAllocation Annuity 12 and the Aviva BalancedAllocation Annuity 8.  They are basically the same product with just subtle differences in maximum issue age, bonus amounts and surrender terms, but keep in mind when I refer to the Aviva BalancedAllocation Annuity in this review I am exclusively referring to the Aviva BalancedAllocation Annuity 12. To start out what makes this annuity a little different than other annuities is that this annuity was designed and created by a marketing company and then they had to find an insurance company to underwrite the product and that is where Aviva comes in.  Another interesting component of the Aviva BalancedAllocation Annuity is that although it is similar to other fixed index annuities in that your principle amount is shielded from market downturns, with the Aviva BalancedAllocation Annuity you have an unlimited upside. You: How is that different? Me: Well if you have read any other reviews here (of course maybe you haven’t) well then you know that typically with fixed index annuities they limit how much of the market upside you can get. You: How so? Me: Well first off let’s talk about what I mean by “market upside” and “market downside”.  In a fixed index annuity your money is never really in the market.  Your... read more

National Western Global LookBack Fixed Index Annuity

Back To The Future Imagine you could go back in time.  What would you do?  Go back to high school and make some different choices?  Un-marry your spouse or marry someone else?  What about going back in time and buying certain stocks or making different investment choices?  Well now you can look back retroactively and make choices with the National Western Global LookBack Fixed Index Annuity.  Well, er..sort of.  Actually what you can do, which is definitely original and innovative is look back in time and look at the performance results of  4 different indices and then assign 40% of  your annuity assets toward of the best performing index of the 4, and then assign 30% to the second best performing index of the 4, and then 20% to 3rd best performing index of the 4, and then 10% to the dog of the bunch. The National Western Global LookBack Fixed Index Annuity uses year-end performance weighting for the S&P 500 Index, the Dow EUROSTOXX 50 Index, the Hang Seng 30 Index and the Nikkei 225 Index. You: So how does that work? Me: So basically it is a 40%/30%/20%/10% look-back and capture.  So for example if you had $100,000 in your National Western Global LookBack Fixed Index Annuity and the S&P 500 Index  was the best performing index of your index choices and it had the biggest annual gains of the 4 indexes  than $40,000 of your annuity would capture the gains of the S&P 500 Index, but keep in mind the $40,000 would not get the full 15% annual increase of the index.  You would however, only get a portion of the annual increase of the index and... read more

American Equity Bonus Gold Review

Let’s Review The American Equity Bonus Gold is a fixed index annuity, which means the American Equity Bonus Gold is an insurance product that is in the simplest terms is just a contract between a person (like you) and an insurance company.   You give the insurance company money and in return they give you some contractually guaranteed promises, which in the case of annuities usually revolve around agreeing to pay you money for your entire life and/or the life of your spouse. The fixed index part is language in the contract that says the value of your money has the ability to increase.  The increases are not guaranteed and are many times over emphasized or misrepresented by commissioned agents (imagine that!). There is however the potential for capturing gains on an annual basis when the market goes up and there is no chance of losing those annual gains to market decreases once the gains have been captured. You:  What? You mean I only get market upside exposure and no market downside exposure with the American Equity Bonus Gold fixed index annuity? Me: Yeah that is what I am saying. You: But, but that sounds too good to be true! Me: Wait a minute take a step back and think about this.  I didn’t say you would get all the market upside, just no market downside.  Think about it, there are other ways to avoid market downside risk like bank Certificates of Deposit or US Treasury bills and/or other fixed interest accounts. You: Oh yeah, you’re right. Me: These are very conservative investment accounts, they are not designed for huge accumulation.  Will they beat many... read more

Let’s Review The Security Benefit Total Value Annuity

What’s The Benefit? The Security Benefit Total Value Annuity is a fixed index annuity and like all fixed index annuities what it is designed for and what it does best is providing guaranteed income for life.  Period.  If an agent is telling you that you that you can expect an 8.5% growth rate with this product be very cautious of whatever else your agent is telling you.  Can you get 8.5% growth on your money with the Security Benefit TVA?  Yes, it is possible.  Is it probable that you will get 8.5% returns with the Security Benefit TVA?  Very unlikely, but if you are happy with the minimum guaranteed growth rate on the income account than you might be very happy with this product. Link to Security Benefit Total Value Annuity brochure: https://www.sbelitepartners.com/resources/client-materials.aspx You: What is an income account? Why did you italicize it? Me: The income account is just an imaginary account with your name that the insurance company keeps to calculate how much income for life they are going to pay you.  There is no real money in it that you can withdrawal.  It works this way, let’s say that there is $100,000 of imaginary money in this account, now when you go to turn on your income for life stream the insurance company looks in this account and the multiple the amount of imaginary money in this account by some percentage and this is the amount of real money that the insurance company will pay you for life.  So in this example I will use 6.5%, so in this case $100,000 X 6.5% = $6500.  So in Security Benefit TVA example the insurance... read more

Let’s take a look at the Allianz Vision Annuity

For Your Eyes Only This is our first review of a variable annuity, the Allianz Vision Annuity.  If you are like me you eyes squint and sharpen your concentration when you hear the word “variable”.   As in “there are just a lot of variables” or “variable interest rate loan” or my personal favorite: “your results can vary“. You: what do you mean by “variable”? Me: I mean my personal favorite from above, as in “your results can vary”.   Not only can the performance results of the Allianz Vision Annuity vary due to market conditions (as you would expect), but consequently the money in your account can vary too! You: I still didn’t understand. Me: basically what it means is that as market conditions improve your money can go up, as market conditions deteriorate your money can go down. Kind of like having your money in a stock. Up and down, up and down.  Is this what you want for your retirement money? You: so my money is in the market? Me: essentially, yes it is. You: that doesn’t sound very stable. Me: it is isn’t stable.  And not only do variable annuities not protect your money from market downsides as I just explained, but as a general rule-of-thumb they also have notoriously high fees when compared to most fixed index annuity products.  The Allianz Vision Annuity is no exception to the high fee rule, fees in the Allianz Vision Annuity can add up to about 3% per year.  So if the market goes up 8% in a year and the total fees on your annuity are 3% than your net earnings are just... read more

Jackson National Perspective L Series Variable Annuity

A Fair-Minded Review Today we take a look at the Jackson National Perspective L Series Variable Annuity.  If you have read any other reviews here than you know that I am not a big fan of variable annuities because of  the fact that they typically have high fees,  they expose the your money to market downside risk, they usually have very complex terms and conditions and they usually have high surrender fees (lump sum withdrawal penalties).   Is the Jackson National Perspective L Series Variable Annuity any different?  In my opinion it isn’t, it only attempts to look like it is.  So let’s take a look and then you decide. According to the marketing material Jackson National Perspective L Series Variable Annuity is designed to: Protect Your Retirement Income: Guaranteed lifetime withdrawal benefits. Guaranteed return of premium benefit. Guaranteed death benefit for legacy protection. Address Market Fluctuations: Automatic step-ups to potentially lock in market gains on some living benefits. Create A Legacy: Enhanced death benefits. Does it do all these things?  We shall see.   What Is a Variable Annuity? A variable annuity is a contract between a person (like you) and an insurance company. It’s a generally designed as a long-term investment for retirement purposes. The person opening the variable annuity account places money in professionally managed investment portfolios, where potential growth can accumulate in a tax-deferred manner. When the person who opened the variable annuity account retires, the monies that potentially accumulated in the variable annuity can be used to generate a stream of regular income payments that are guaranteed for as long as they live. Additionally some variable annuities  may provide a guaranteed death benefit for the persons beneficiaries.... read more

Fair Minded Review of the Allianz 222 Annuity

Let’s take a look at the Allianz 222 in today’s Annuity Review There are of course many, many insurance companies and many, many different types of annuities with many, many different features and the Allianz 222 is just one of them.  Does buying an annuity even benefit you?  Is the Allianz 222 the right one?  Well let’s find out! Here’s what is covered in today’s review.  I will of course be discussing the fixed index annuity the Allianz 222 and all its most important features including; riders, death benefits, and income for life guarantees. We also will take a look at some terms and insurance company lingo that you might not be up to speed on. This review will not be an endorsement nor will it be a completely negative appraisal of the Allianz 222.  What I strive to do is give you the reader the pros-and-cons of the product and help you understand its components. If you are currently considering purchasing this annuity under the recommendation from an agent read this first so you can better make an informed decision.  Purchasing the Allianz 222 should benefit you, not just the agent or your adviser.   Fixed Index Annuities concepts and terms To begin, an annuity like the Allianz 222 is an insurance product that is in the simplest terms is just a contract between a person (like you) and an insurance company.   You give the insurance company money and in return they give you some contractually guaranteed promises, which in the case of annuities usually revolve around agreeing to pay you money for your entire life and/or the life of your spouse.... read more

Review Of The Preference Plus Select Variable Annuity Offered By MetLife

Understanding Variable Annuities and Variable Annuities vs Fixed Index Annuities To get started an annuity is just a contract between a person (like  you) and an insurance company.  Usually people who are looking into annuities are looking for certain contractually guaranteed financial terms and/or outcomes.  Most often people who are interested in annuities are attracted by the guaranteed lifetime income stream that annuities can provide and usually they are also seeking to grow their money; which potentially is something else that annuities can provide.  Additionally they may be interested in other features like death benefits or in-home health care benefits that some annuities may offer.   Apples and Oranges Although the financial goals and objectives for people interested in annuities are usually quite similar, the way different types of annuities help people achieve those goals and objectives can be completely different.  Fixed index annuities can provide a guaranteed income stream for life.  Variable annuities can also provide a guaranteed income stream for life.   Additionally fixed index annuities can grow your money.  Well variable annuities can grow your money too.  What’s the difference? With fixed index annuities your money is never at risk due to market downturns.   So what this means is that if the market goes up your money can go up, but if the market goes down your money won’t follow the market down. With variable annuities your money is at risk of being lost, your money will follow the market down.  Worst case? Your money is all gone.  Is that a probable or like scenario? No, but be aware of potential.  However just like with the fixed index annuity your money can follow... read more

Pacific Choice Variable Annuity Review

The Investigators Are Here The Pacific Choice Variable Annuity from Pacific Life is a variable annuity as the name suggests.  If you are not familiar with the term, an annuity is just a contract or agreement between a person (like you) and an insurance company.  Commonly people who research (and may ultimately end up investing in) annuities are looking to grow their money, and for the lifetime income stream option that many annuities offer. The lifetime income stream is called a living benefit because you get the benefit while you are living.  Keep in mind that the lifetime income stream is a separate feature from the growing your money feature. Though many (most) fixed index and variable annuities offer both features, the two features are distinct and separate and having one does not guarantee that an annuity has the other. The Pacific Choice Variable Annuity has the option of providing a lifetime income stream, but you have to elect the option at contract inception and you pay an annual fee for this feature. You: You mentioned fixed index annuities, I have heard of them.  What is the difference between fixed index annuities and variable annuities? Me: With fixed index annuities the growth of your money is tied to an index like the S&P 500 Index.  Your money is not actually in the market so it is never at risk due to market downturns.   So what this means is that if the market goes up your money can go up, but if the market goes down your money won’t follow the market down. Me: With variable annuities your money is at risk of being lost.*  Your money... read more

Transamerica Variable Annuity Series X-Share Review

Look Before You Leap The Transamerica Variable Annuity Series X-Share is a variable annuity as the name suggests.  To get started let’s start out with some quotes from the prospectus to get to know it a little better: Annuities may lose value and are not insured by the FDIC or any federal government agency. They are not a deposit of or guaranteed by any bank, bank affiliate, or credit union. and This variable annuity may not be suitable for everyone. This variable annuity may not be appropriate for people who do not have a long investment time horizon and is not appropriate for people who intend to engage in market timing. You will get no additional tax advantage from this variable annuity if you are investing in a variable annuity through a tax-advantaged retirement plan (such as a 401(k) plan or Individual Retirement Account (“IRA”)). So keep in mind you can lose money and there is no guarantee that you will make money.  After you open your Transamerica Variable Annuity Series X-Share account you are given the option of investing your money in a variety of different investment choices.  I did not count them all, but as you can see starting on page 5 of the 138 page prospectus that the choices are many and each one comes with it’s own prospectus so now we are talking about thousands of pages of prospectuses (be sure and have a look yourself).  The choices run the gamut, from low-risk and low-yield bond portfolios to high-risk and potentially high-return aggressive allocation portfolios. Variable vs Fixed Annuities If you are not familiar with the term, an annuity is just a contract or agreement between a person (like... read more

Review of ChoicePlus Assurance Variable Annuities From Lincoln Financial

Let’s Get Started The Lincoln Financial Group ChoicePlus Variable Annuities are a group of variable annuities offered by Lincoln Financial Group which are part of their ChoicePlus Assurance suite.   Currently there are 14 variable annuity choices in the Lincoln ChoicePlus Assurance suite and all 14 choices have very similar sounding names and operate mostly the same way with just slight variations.  The 14 choices are: Lincoln ChoicePlus Assurance SM A-Share Lincoln ChoicePlus Assurance SM A-Share – Fee Based Lincoln ChoicePlus SM Design 1 Lincoln ChoicePlus SM Design 2 Lincoln ChoicePlus SM Design 3 Lincoln ChoicePlus SM Fusion Lincoln ChoicePlus Assurance SM A-Class Variable Annuity Lincoln ChoicePlus SM Signature 1 Lincoln ChoicePlus SM Signature 2 Lincoln ChoicePlus SM Rollover Lincoln ChoicePlus Assurance SM Series L-Share Lincoln ChoicePlus Assurance SM Series B-Share Lincoln ChoicePlus Assurance SM Series C-Share Lincoln ChoicePlus Assurance SM (Prime) I will not get into the slight differences between the 14 choices,  but feel free to contact us here at Annuity Investigator if you want more details on the differences. Let’s start with a brief overview of variable annuities before we get into the details of the pros-and-cons of the Lincoln Financial Group ChoicePlus Assurance Variable Annuities suite.   What Is a Variable Annuity? A variable annuity is a contract between a person (like you) and an insurance company. It’s a generally designed as a long-term investment for retirement purposes. The person opening the variable annuity account places money in professionally managed investment portfolios, where potential growth can accumulate in a tax-deferred manner. When the person who opened the variable annuity account retires, the monies that potentially accumulated in the variable annuity can be used to generate... read more

Prudential Premier Advisor Variable Annuity Review

Ready, Set, Go! Today we tackle the Prudential Premier Advisor Variable Annuity.  If you have read any other reviews here than you know that I am not a big fan of variable annuities because of  the fact that:  they typically have high fees + they expose the principle balance to market downside + are usually very complex fee and payout structures + they usually contain onerous withdrawal penalties.  Is the Prudential Premier Advisor Variable Annuity any different?  In my opinion it isn’t, it only attempts to look like it is.  I did make a promise to another analyst here at AnnuityInvestigator that I would be fair minded in this review and discuss the potential positive aspects of the Prudential Premier Advisor Variable Annuity.   (Who says I’m not fair minded? I think I am being fair minded, I just don’t like variable annuities that much compared to other options).  Anyway, here goes.     What Is a Variable Annuity? A variable annuity is a contract between a person (like you) and an insurance company. It’s a generally designed as a long-term investment for retirement purposes. The person opening the variable annuity account places money in professionally managed investment portfolios, where potential growth can accumulate in a tax-deferred manner. When the person who opened the variable annuity account retires, the monies that potentially accumulated in the variable annuity can be used to generate a stream of regular income payments that are guaranteed for as long as they live. Additionally some variable annuities  may provide a guaranteed death benefit for the persons beneficiaries.     How Does a Variable Annuity Differ From a Fixed Index Annuity? Although the financial goals and objectives for people... read more

AIG’s Polaris Select Investor Variable Annuity Review

Taking A Look At The Polaris Select Investor Variable Annuity Today we tackle the Polaris Select Investor Variable Annuity from AIG.  If you have read any other reviews here than you know that I am not a big fan of variable annuities because of  the fact that:  they typically have high fees + they expose the principle balance to market downside + are usually very complex fee and payout structures + they usually contain onerous withdrawal penalties.  Is the Polaris Select Investor Variable Annuity any different?  In my opinion it isn’t, it only attempts to look like it is.  I did make a promise to another analyst here at AnnuityInvestigator that I would be fair minded in this review and discuss the potential positive aspects of the Prudential Defined Income Variable Annuity.   (Who says I’m not fair minded? I think I am being fair minded, I just don’t like variable annuities that much compared to other options).  Anyway, here goes. Let’s start out with a quote from the Polaris Select Investor Variable Annuity prospectus: “Variable Annuities involve risks, including possible loss of principal, and are not a deposit or obligation of, or guaranteed or endorsed by, any bank. They are not federally insured by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, the Federal Reserve Board or any other agency. These securities have not been approved or disapproved by the SEC, nor any state securities commission, nor has the SEC passed upon the accuracy or adequacy of this prospectus. Any representation to the contrary is a criminal offense.” So keep in mind you can lose money, but let’s take a look at how... read more

Elite Access Variable Annuity Offered By Jackson National

A Fair-Minded Review Today we take a look at the Jackson National Elite Access Variable Annuity.  If you have read any other reviews here than you know that I am not a big fan of variable annuities because of  the fact that they typically have high fees,  they expose the your money to market downside risk, they usually have very complex terms and conditions and they usually have high surrender fees (lump sum withdrawal penalties).   Is the Jackson National Elite Access Variable Annuity any different?  In my opinion it isn’t, it only attempts to look like it is.  So let’s take a look and then you decide.     What Is a Variable Annuity? A variable annuity is a contract between a person (like you) and an insurance company. It’s a generally designed as a long-term investment for retirement purposes. The person opening the variable annuity account places money in professionally managed investment portfolios, where potential growth can accumulate in a tax-deferred manner. When the person who opened the variable annuity account retires, the monies that potentially accumulated in the variable annuity can be used to generate a stream of regular income payments that are guaranteed for as long as they live. Additionally some variable annuities  may provide a guaranteed death benefit for the persons beneficiaries.   How Does a Variable Annuity Differ From a Fixed Index Annuity? Although the financial goals and objectives for people typically interested in annuities are usually quite similar, the way different types of annuities help people achieve those goals and objectives can be completely different.  Fixed index annuities can provide a guaranteed income stream for life, well so can variable annuities.   Fixed index annuities can grow... read more

Review Of The Riversource RAVA 5 Advantage Variable Annuity

The Riversource RAVA 5 Advantage Variable Annuity Today we tackle the Riversource RAVA 5 Advantage Variable Annuity.  If you have read any other reviews here than you know that I am not a big fan of variable annuities because of  the fact that:  they typically have high fees + they expose the principle balance to market downside + are usually very complex fee and payout structures + they usually contain onerous withdrawal penalties.  Is the Riversource RAVA 5 Advantage Variable Annuity any different?  In my opinion it isn’t, it only attempts to look like it is.  I did make a promise to another analyst here at AnnuityInvestigator that I would be fair minded in this review and discuss the potential positive aspects of the Riversource RAVA 5 Advantage Variable Annuity.   (Who says I’m not fair minded? I think I am being fair minded, I just don’t like variable annuities that much compared to other options).  Anyway, here goes.   Why an Annuity? To get started an annuity is just a contract between a person (like  you) and an insurance company.  Usually people who are looking into annuities are looking for certain contractually guaranteed financial terms and/or outcomes.  Most often people who are interested in annuities are attracted by the guaranteed lifetime income stream that annuities can provide and usually they are also seeking to grow their money; which potentially is something else that annuities can provide.  Additionally they may be interested in other features like death benefits or in-home health care benefits that some annuities may offer.     What’s the Difference Between Variable and Fixed Annuities? Although the financial goals and objectives for people interested... read more

America’s marketFLEX Advisor Variable Annuity Offered By Nationwide Review

Let’s Dig Deep! The America’s marketFLEX Advisor Variable Annuity Offered By Nationwide is a variable annuity as the name suggests.  If you are not familiar with the term, an annuity is just a contract or agreement between a person (like you) and an insurance company.  Commonly people who research (and may ultimately end up investing in) annuities are looking to grow their money, and for the lifetime income stream option that many annuities offer. The lifetime income stream is called a living benefit because you get the benefit while you are living.  Keep in mind that the lifetime income stream is a separate feature from the growing your money feature. Though many (most) fixed index and variable annuities offer both features, the two features are distinct and separate and having one does not guarantee that an annuity has the other. You: You mentioned fixed index annuities, I have heard of them.  What is the difference between fixed index annuities and variable annuities? Me: With fixed index annuities the growth of your money is tied to an index like the S&P 500 Index.  Your money is not actually in the market so it is never at risk due to market downturns.   So what this means is that if the market goes up your money can go up, but if the market goes down your money won’t follow the market down. Me: With variable annuities your money is at risk of being lost.  Your money is invested in the market so your money will follow the market down.  Worst case? Your money is all gone.  Is that a probable or like scenario? No, but be aware... read more

The Accumulator Series Variable Annuities Offered By Axa Equitable

Let’s get started. The Accumulator Series is a group of variable annuities as the name suggests offered by Axa Equitable.  There are 4 different annuities choices within the Accumulator Series with each having slight difference between them, but basically they all share common elements which according to the AXA promotional brochure are: “The Accumulator® variable annuity is a long-term retirement product that allows you the ability to invest for growth potential on a tax-deferred basis. In the most basic terms, annuities are contracts between you and an insurance company to accumulate funds and then to provide lifetime payments. There are contract limitations and fees and charges associated with Accumulator®, which include, but are not limited to, operations, distribution, withdrawal and administrative expense and charges for optional benefits. Accumulator® provides for guaranteed benefits through optional riders available for an additional fee; the Guaranteed Minimum Income Benefit (GMIB) can protect retirement income, and the Guaranteed Minimum Death Benefits (GMDB) which provide the ability to preserve the value of your death benefit for your legacy. A variety of equity portfolios allows you to participate in the market.” The four choices in the Accumulator Series offered by Axa Equitable are: Series B Series C Series CP Series L If you are not familiar with the term, an annuity is just a contract or agreement between a person (like you) and an insurance company.  Commonly people who research (and may ultimately end up investing in) annuities are looking to grow their money, and for the lifetime income stream option that many annuities offer. The lifetime income stream is called a living benefit because you get the benefit... read more

New York Life Flexible Premium Variable Annuity offered by New York Life

Understanding Variable Annuities vs Fixed Index Annuities To get started an annuity is just a contract between a person (like  you) and an insurance company.  Usually people who are looking into annuities are looking for certain contractually guaranteed financial terms and/or outcomes.  Most often people who are interested in annuities are attracted by the guaranteed lifetime income stream that annuities can provide and usually they are also seeking to grow their money; which potentially is something else that annuities can provide.  Additionally they may be interested in other features like death benefits or in-home health care benefits that some annuities may offer.     Apples and Oranges Although the financial goals and objectives for people interested in annuities are usually quite similar, the way different types of annuities help people achieve those goals and objectives can be completely different.  Fixed index annuities can provide a guaranteed income stream for life.  Variable annuities can also provide a guaranteed income stream for life.   Additionally fixed index annuities can grow your money.  Well variable annuities can grow your money too.  What’s the difference? With fixed index annuities your money is never at risk due to market downturns.   So what this means is that if the market goes up your money can go up, but if the market goes down your money won’t follow the market down. With variable annuities your money is at risk of being lost, your money will follow the market down.  Worst case? Your money is all gone.  Is that a probable or like scenario? No, but be aware of potential.  However just like with the fixed index annuity your money can follow the... read more

Great American’s Access 100 Variable Annuity

Let’s Get Started The Access 100 Variable Annuity from Great American is a variable annuity as the name suggests.  If you are not familiar with the term, an annuity is just a contract or agreement between a person (like you) and an insurance company.  Commonly people who research (and may ultimately end up investing in) annuities are looking to grow their money, and for the lifetime income stream option that many annuities offer. The lifetime income stream is called a living benefit because you get the benefit while you are living.  Keep in mind that the lifetime income stream is a separate feature from the growing your money feature. Though many (most) fixed index and variable annuities offer both features, the two features are distinct and separate and having one does not guarantee that an annuity has the other.  In fact the Great American’s Access 100 Variable Annuity does not have the option of providing a lifetime income stream, the Great American’s Access 100 Variable Annuity is designed for market growth purposes only. You: You mentioned fixed index annuities, I have heard of them.  What is the difference between fixed index annuities and variable annuities? Me: With fixed index annuities the growth of your money is tied to an index like the S&P 500 Index.  Your money is not actually in the market so it is never at risk due to market downturns.   So what this means is that if the market goes up your money can go up, but if the market goes down your money won’t follow the market down. Me: With variable annuities your money is at risk of being lost.... read more

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