When evaluating the numerous guaranteed account value benefit (GAV) annuity products on the market, Annuity FYI looks for a) features of the rider itself; b) the quality of the core annuities to which the rider may be applied; and c) the company issuing the annuity.

Criteria we use in evaluating the rider are:

  1. Guaranteed access to 100% of your premium in less than 10 years (10 years is industry standard).
  2. The ability to lock-in gains and then access those gains in a lump-sum at the end of the vesting period.
  3. A range of asset allocation models, including more aggressive models (many GAV riders require you to invest in conservative or moderate asset allocation models, or can transfer funds at their discretion into a fixed account).
  4. Rider fees.
  5. Ability to reset your riders to the highest anniversary value when your actual account performance exceeds the guarantee.
  6. A plan that allows resets to advanced ages (we generally favor plans that will allow resets until age 85+).

Criteria we use in evaluating the core annuities are:

  1. Outstanding additional features and benefits, including but not limited to living income benefits and enhanced death and estate benefits.
  2. Competitive annuitization factors and actuarial tables during payout phase. This translates into a larger lifetime income stream if you annuitize, for up to two people (husband and wife).
  3. M&E and Admin fees — we generally favor annuities with ME&A fees of 1.15% or less.
  4. Sub-accounts and asset allocation models with strong historical returns that we believe will have strong future performance.
  5. Turn-key asset allocation models to meet investor profiles ranging from conservative to aggressive, with active rebalancing.
  6. A large selection of fund sub-accounts and the ability to invest outside of a model.
  7. Length of surrender period — we generally favor annuities with surrender periods of 6 years or less.
  8. Plans with generous penalty-free withdrawal provisions that won’t violate the riders.

Criteria we use in evaluating the insurance company issuing the annuities and riders are:

  1. High safety ratings of the issuing company (although with variable annuities your assets are held separately from the insurance company’s general accounts, the features and benefits are based on the claims-paying ability of the issuing company and its re-insurers).
  2. Company management, customer service, and ease of account access.
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