What’s Covered In This Review
In this annuity review, we will be covering the following details on the EquiTrust Choice Four fixed annuity product:
- Product Type
- Current Rates
- Realistic long-term return expectations
- How it is used
- How it is most poorly used
Annuities can be complex. That’s where having an Annuity Investigator who loves math comes in.
We make the complex, simple.
If you’ve been seriously thinking about purchasing an annuity because you want to assure yourself of long-lasting retirement income in the future, and have your principal protected regardless of what occurs in the stock market, then the EquiTrust Choice Four fixed annuity could be a good option for you.
But, prior to going out and signing up for this product right now, it is recommended that you first get a more in-depth understanding of how the annuity works – and how it may or may not work with your specific financial goals (both short and long-term) in mind.
Over the past several years, fixed annuities have become much more popular as a way to grow principal on a steady basis, and to ensure that no money is lost, even in light of an extremely volatile market environment. These products also offer the ability to secure a lifetime income in the future, regardless of how long you may need it.
But, even though it can be highly reassuring to have these types of guarantees, annuities should always be considered as a long term financial endeavor. So, it can be helpful if you know what you’re getting into because it can be quite difficult, and expensive, if you want to get out once you’ve made a commitment to purchase one.
When you’re in the process of researching the pros and cons about annuities, it can be a bit of a challenge to find all of the pertinent details that you need. This is because the positive points about annuities can easily be found in brochures and other marketing materials, while the drawbacks are oftentimes hidden in a myriad of “fine print.” This is where we can help.
Annuity and Retirement Income Planning Information That You Can Trust
If you’ve never been to our website before, we would like to thank you for stopping by and visiting AnnuityGator.com. We are a team of experienced financial pros who are focused primarily on offering the most comprehensive – and unbiased – annuity reviews on the Internet. We have been doing this for quite a while now – far longer than our competitors – and because of that, we’ve come to be known as a highly trusted source of annuity information.
You may be on our website right now as a result of an annuity seminar that you attended where, in return for a lunch or dinner, the presenter provided you with a lot of information about the EquiTrust Choice Four fixed annuity, or some other similar product. You may also be approaching retirement, and are seeking various guarantees for your money, such as safety and growth.
In your quest for more information about annuities online, you may have run across some highly conflicting information about these products. This isn’t surprising, as there are lots of annuities out there, along with a wide range of opinions about them.
You may also have noticed that there are some annuity sites out there that make some pretty bold claims about the annuities that they offer, such as:
- Highest income payouts
- Lowest fees
- Top-rated annuity carriers
- Guaranteed income for life
- Get your quote now!
Does this look familiar?
But, while these promises might sound enticing, it is still necessary for you to determine whether or not they are actually true, because once you have committed to purchasing an annuity, it can be extremely difficult to get out of it – even if you later determine that it doesn’t do what it was promised to do.
In other cases, you may have noticed that the information about annuities can be somewhat dry and boring, and about as much fun to read as getting a root canal. But, knowing how an annuity works, as well as knowing about any of the fees that can be charged, is essential as it can greatly affect your return, as well as the amount of income you’ll receive in the future.
The good news is that if you are here to gather more details about the EquiTrust Choice Four fixed annuity, you are certainly in the right place. We need to warn you, though, that we aren’t going to paint a rosy picture that focuses only on the positives – which is what many commissioned sales people will do.
Rather, we will give you the good, the bad, and even the ugly. That’s because we believe that knowing the whole picture is really the only way that you can make a well-informed decision about whether or not to move forward with this product.
So, if you’re ready to begin, let’s go ahead and dive in!
EquiTrust Choice Four Fixed Annuity at a Glance
|Product Name||Choice Four|
|Issuer||EquiTrust Life Insurance Company|
|Type of Product||Fixed Annuity|
|Ratings||B++ from A.M. Best; BBB+ from S&P|
|Phone Number||(888) 400-5759|
Opening Thoughts on the EquiTrust Choice Four Fixed Annuity
Although EquiTrust is considered to be on the smaller side in terms of the overall insurance industry, the company focuses on a specific niche with its life insurance and annuity products. Because of this, investors who are in the market for specific financial tools, such as single premium life insurance and fixed / fixed indexed annuities, may find what they’re looking for here.
The company was actually purchased by Guggenheim Partners – a global investment and advisory firm – that has been providing portfolio management for many of the EquiTrust products throughout the years.
Due to the amount of volatility that we’ve seen in the market (and the economy) over the past decade or so, the demand for fixed annuities has grown significantly, particularly as a way for retirees and pre-retirees who are saving for retirement to keep their principal safe.
Unfortunately, because of the extremely low-interest rate environment that we’ve also been subject to, securing safety can come at the price of very low returns, which in turn, can have an impact on what you are ultimately able to save, and turn into an income stream in the future.
Before we get into the in-depth details, we have some legal disclosures to present…
This is an independent annuity product review. It is not a recommendation to purchase or to sell an annuity. EquiTrust Life Insurance Company has not endorsed this review in any way, nor do we receive any type of compensation for providing this review. This annuity review is meant solely to be an independent review at the request of our readers so that they may see our perspective when breaking down the positives and the negatives of this particular annuity. Prior to committing to the purchase of any type of insurance and/or investment vehicle, it is critical that you do your own due diligence, and that you also talk with a properly licensed professional if you have any questions that relate to your specific situation. All of the names, materials, and marks that have been used in compiling this annuity review are the property of their respective owners.
For more details on how to compare fixed annuities so that you can decide which may be the best one for you, click here in order to obtain our free annuity report.
How EquiTrust Describes the Choice Four Fixed Annuity
EquiTrust Life Insurance Company describes the Choice Four fixed annuity as a traditional fixed-rate annuity product that offers a choice of durations, with annual reset interest.
This single premium traditional fixed annuity features a one-year annual reset interest rate, meaning that the interest rate you receive is determined annually. And, even though it is a single premium product, the company does allow for additional premiums to be made during the first year.
The Choice Four annuity is aptly named, as it is actually, according to EquiTrust, “four products in one,” So, investors can essentially choose the product that is best for them from the following options:
1) Base Contract
The Base Contract features a one-year fixed rate that is reset on an annual basis. All of the premiums that are paid in the first year of the contract will get the same interest rate as the initial premium does.
2) Market Value and Adjustment Option
If you know for sure that you’ll be able to keep your money in this annuity (i.e., and that you won’t need to use these particular funds for an emergency), then you could choose to go with the MVA (Market Value Adjustment) version of this annuity where you can receive an immediate premium bonus – and you can have that bonus applied to all of the premium that you deposit during the first year. (Going with this option, though, the surrender period is going to be longer – meaning that you’ll be hit with a surrender fee over the first nine years).
3) Liquidity Option
If, however, your time horizon is shorter than nine years, the liquidity option gives you a shorter surrender period (of only six years). Here, however, in return for having access to most or all of your money in a shorter time period, you will “trade off” with a lower interest rate.
4) Combination of Both Options
If you really like both the Market Value Adjustment option and the Liquidity Option, EquiTrust offers a fourth alternative with the Choice Four annuity. That is to basically combine the benefits of both. In this case, you would be allowed to have a shorter surrender charge schedule and yearly access to up to 10% of your money without a surrender charge or a Market Value Adjustment. Here, though, you would also receive a lower interest rate.
So, depending on the version of the Choice Four that you opt for, you could qualify for a premium bonus, as well as a shorter surrender (6 years versus 9 years), which means that you could have access to most or all of your principal if you should need it. (Although annuities should really only be purchased with funds that you don’t anticipate needing for other things such as emergencies).
This annuity also has some other features, like a death benefit and a nursing home waiver. So, you could have the option to use the funds if confined to a nursing home. Likewise, a named beneficiary may receive the funds in the contract if death occurs prior to receiving the contract value.
How Financial Advisors Might Pitch This Annuity
Because it is a fixed annuity, it is likely that when discussing the Choice Four with potential purchasers, an insurance or financial advisor will key in on the stable growth, as well as the principal protection aspect. This, in turn, may be positioned as allowing you to sleep better at night, as there is no worry about losing any of the funds that are inside of the annuity. (Other than from withdrawals and/or fees, which are often times only glossed over, if discussed at all).
The other big advantage with this (or any) fixed annuity is the fact that you can count on a steady stream of income in the future from it. And, if you opt to go with the lifetime income option, this can alleviate, at least somewhat, the concern about outliving all of your retirement income down the road.
If you’re going over the Choice Four information with a commissioned insurance or financial sales representative, it’s important to keep in mind that they aren’t likely to delve too deeply into some of the other attributes of fixed annuities, such as the extremely low-interest rates that they are garnering now (and have been throughout the past ten or more years).
In fact, the returns that people are getting on fixed annuities today are dismally low, putting them on par with the returns of other supposedly “safe” financial vehicles like money markets and CDs. The problem is, though, that even if you’re not technically “losing” money, you are likely diminishing the ability to beat – or even to meet – future inflation. And this can equate to a lower amount of retirement income, and in turn, the inability to continue purchasing the products and services you’ll need in the future.
Also, because there aren’t really any other features on the Choice Four annuity that make it stand out from most other fixed annuities you’ll find in the market place, it may or may not give you a leg up on return. That being said, there could be some better alternatives out there for you – particularly as you will likely be plunking down a sizeable chunk of your savings to purchase an annuity.
What About the Fees on the EquiTrust Choice Four Fixed Annuity?
When it comes to charges and fees, just about any financial product that you go with will have at least some – but whether or not they reveal this to you prominently is another story. In the case of the Choice Four fixed annuity from EquiTrust, there is no additional fee charged for either the nursing home waiter, the terminal illness rider, or the death benefit.
However, depending on which of the four options you choose to go with, you could have a pretty hefty surrender charge if you want or need access to most or all of your funds. For example, if you go with the base contract (which is option number 1 above), you could be looking at nine full years of surrender penalties, that start at a whopping 12%.
Choice Four Surrender Charge Schedule – Base Contract
|Surrender Charge %||12||11||10||9||8||7||6||4||2||0|
*Note that with this option, the interest that is earned in the previous 12 months may be withdrawn at any time without a surrender charge or MVA.
If, however, you go with the liquidity option, your surrender charge drops down to “only” six years, also starting with a pretty high 12% in the first year – and remaining fairly high throughout the entire time period.
|Surrender Charge %||12||11||10||9||8||7||0|
The Annuity Gator’s End Take on the EquiTrust Choice Four Fixed Annuity
Where it works best:
There are several areas where this annuity could work well, such as for those who are seeking:
- Protection of principal – regardless of what occurs in the market
- Steady (albeit low) return
- Lifetime income guarantee in retirement
Where it works worst:
Even with its guarantees, the Choice Four annuity may not be a good option if you:
- Want the opportunity to achieve a higher rate of return
- Want or need access to your funds within the first several years (6 or 9, depending on the option that you choose)
- Do not plan to use the annuity’s lifetime income feature
In order to truly know how to compare the best annuity options for you, click here so that you can download our free annuity report.
If you’ve been considering the purchase of an annuity – or any financial vehicle, for that matter – it is always important that you consider several factors prior to moving ahead. That way, you will have a much better idea as to whether or not the product is right for you and your specific needs.
If a fixed annuity seems to be the best alternative for you, however, you can be assured that it will provide you with the protection of your principal, as well as a guaranteed lifetime income in the future – which is something that other financial vehicles just cannot do.
As it pertains to the Choice Four fixed annuity from EquiTrust Life Insurance Company, then, there can definitely be some nice advantages. However, this particular product could also fall a bit short – and quite frankly, there may be a better alternative for you, especially if you are in search of a higher return.
So, if you are still not 100% certain that the Choice Four from EquiTrust is right for you, then feel free to reach out to us directly through our secure online contact form here now.
Any Additional Questions? Did You Notice Any Mistakes?
We realize that this annuity review was a tad bit longer than usual. Given that, we would like to thank you for sticking with us to the end. In offering our reviews of annuities, however, we would much rather provide our website visitors with “too much” detail, rather than not enough. So, if you felt that this annuity review was helpful, then please feel free to forward it and share it with others who you think may also find it beneficial.
We also realize that the available information with regard to annuity products can – and often does – change over time. With that in mind, if you happened to run across any details in this annuity review that needs to be corrected or updated, please let us know and we will be happy to get them corrected immediately.
Also, if this review has caused you to be more confused about how the Choice Four fixed annuity from EquiTrust works, and/or if reading this review has prompted any additional questions or concerns, then please do let us know that, too.
Are there any other annuities that you’d like to see reviewed?
No problem! Just let us know the name (or names, if there’s more than just one) of the products that you are interested in, and our team of annuity “geeks” will get on it. So, be sure to check back often, as we are always adding new annuity information to our website.
The Annuity Gator