INSURANCE INFORMATION INSTITUTE
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NEW YORK, September 8, 2009
“Ask your friends, relatives and business associates for the names of insurance agents that have an excellent reputation. While you’re at it, find out which life insurance carriers they represent, too,” said Dr. Steven Weisbart, senior vice president, chief economist and I.I.I.’s expert on life insurance and annuities.
Annuities, an agreement for one person or organization to pay another a series of payments, are aimed at enhancing a retiree’s financial security. They can be purchased through insurance agents, financial planners, banks and life insurance carriers. Life insurers are the only entities which issue annuities policies.
About 95 percent of these products are sold as deferred annuities, which are generally designed to collect premiums and accrue investment income over an extended period for payout at a later time, usually when the annuity owner retires.
“If you decide to use an insurance agent, find one who is knowledgeable about annuities and has a reputation for excellent customer service,” Weisbart added. “The agent should be able to advise you and answer all your questions. If you are thinking about buying a variable annuity, the agent should also have a license to sell variable annuity products. Since variable annuities are considered securities, you should receive a prospectus describing the investment alternatives available to you.”
Before determining whether an agent is right for you, assess whether they:
Continue to research agents until you have found someone who can help you meet your financial goals and needs.
There are hundreds of insurers and many different types of annuities products available to you. Before buying an annuity, also consult your state insurance department Web site to see whether they offer an online annuity buyers guide for your state.
There are four important things to consider when assessing a life insurance company:
The I.I.I. is a nonprofit, communications organization supported by the insurance industry.