“The One Who Works for You!” is more than a motto at American Equity Investment Life Insurance Company – it’s a commitment to the company’s more than 23,000 independent agents and over 600,000 annuity customers. American-owned and operated, American Equity specializes in fixed index annuities and continues to be guided by its principles that focus on People, Service, Future®.
American Equity is an insurance carrier that issues contracts through independent insurance agents across the country. American Equity does not sell direct to consumers, but their products are backed by the company’s proven financial strength.
David Noble, the company’ founder, formed American Equity in 1995 after retiring from the insurance industry for just three short days. He envisioned a company that offered impeccable customer service and provided greater confidence in retirement planning – Sleep Insurance®. Annuity customers can rest easier knowing their money is principal protected, and if a question does arise, a real person will answer the phone.
American Equity has grown to $51.89 billion* in assets and is the #3 All-Time Producer of Fixed Index Annuities**. Their success is reflected in the more than 500 employees that are headquartered in the Midwest as well as their dedication to giving back to the community, including supporting charities and organizations such as the American Heart Association®, JDRF, Toys for Tots, Habitat for Humanity®, and more. Learn more at www.american-equity.com.
*Liabilities as of 12/31/17 are $48.89 Billion
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I have been a customer of American Equity since January of 2009. My wife also opened an account during the same month. In 2008 I took early retirement and rolled over my employer 401k into the Bonus Gold annuity. At the time the US economy was a disaster and the stock market was in a free fall. I received a 10% bonus upon opening the account and my money was much safer than the market. I slept well at night and still do... I became knowledgeable in how the annuity works and the annual investment options that were available.
I was especially pleased with the Lifetime Income Benefit Rider option. I have been quite happy with American Equity and whenever I have reached out - via email or over the phone the experience has been productive and has fully met my expectations. I knew what I was getting into when I opened the annuity. There have been no surprises or confusion and I thank Chuck ** - my agent from the Tucker Advisory Group for being a straight shooter and spending many hours explaining the program to my wife and myself. AE= top notch!
Andrew, American Equity is delighted to read that you are pleased with the benefits of your annuity contract and with your interactions with your agent and the company. We work hard to provide great service and products and appreciate you taking the time to share your experience with others!
Very knowledgeable sales agents, helpful throughout the entire process. The ability to collect payments for the rest of your life was most important. Setting up options for payouts were explained and easy to setup. Monthly payments arrive promptly on the day of the month you choose. Have never had a problem.
Robert, American Equity is delighted to read your feedback. Thank you for taking the time to share your positive experience.
My brother-in-law (co-owner & joint annuitant) passed away in February of 2018. My sister & I visited the sales agent involved with their Indexed Annuity which they purchased in July 2011. He sheepishly advised she could not transfer ownership to herself per the contract. Frankly this was a blessing in my opinion as I and most people familiar with annuities know most are consumer ripoffs laden with high sales fees and surrender charges. Fortunately there was a death benefit which added to the surrender value. Note my sister was a joint owner & co-annuitant on this contract.
When we contacted A/E to begin processing the payout, the stall began. They advised that because the payout exceeded $50,000 we would need to open or probate my brother-in-law's estate. Now, note, they live in a state with tenancy in common. All the property including this annuity was jointly owned so my sister was not required to probate her husband's estate in this state. The net impact on her was she had to hire a lawyer and open the estate only because A/E required this circus of needless activity. We still have not closed the estate but A/E has paid out the proceeds, but it sits in an estate account at my sister's bank!
A/E advertising literature on this indexed annuity has this quote on the bottom of page #2, "WHERE WILL YOUR RETIREMENT DOLLARS TAKE YOU?" "AVOIDANCE OF PROBATE:" "In the case of premature death, your beneficiaries have the accumulated funds within your annuity available to them and may avoid the expense, delay and publicity of probate. Your named beneficiaries can choose to receive the proceeds as monthly income or a lump sum payment." We are testament on the false advertising of A/E in our claim. My advice is to run for the hills when a so called Life Underwriter or Certified Financial Planner advises on any annuity let alone an A/E annuity. Nothing but expense, delay and publicity of probate will ensue. They get away with making their own rules, likely to delay any payouts!
I contacted American Equity to ask about surrendering my account due to financial hardships because of having to bury my dad. AE contacted me and basically told me that I was out of luck until 2030, unless I wanted to pay the surrender charges which are outrageous. It is horrible to be tied into something and have no way out... And for the percentage it's gaining, I may as well have my money under a mattress. I will not put another penny into this company.
October 19th 2012 I bought S&P stock index annuity Contract number **. Broker showed me impressive ten-year graph and mentioned the next day he was giving a client the good news of a 12% return for the year. I know returns aren't guaranteed but it was definitely implied, if not why show me anything. As the S&P has almost doubled my return stands at 19%. I expect no return this year so that will be 3 out of 6 years of no return. The broker should have greatly stressed how one or 2 bad months could completely destroy your yearly returns but he didn't. This has all happened in a raging bull market. My expectations for the next 4 years are zero. But not for the horrific surrender charges I'd gladly take my cash and put it into a 3% CD. The product seems like a win for American Equity and the broker but for the investor, it's all about luck and I've had none. I'm sure there are many others with similar stories, Thanks for letting me vent.
Thank you for sharing your comments. Someone from our company will be in contact with you soon.
We tried to make a request for a simple withdrawal of a portion of our account. The first person we spoke to after waiting over 10 days gave us an uneducated response delaying the deposit even longer. The person processing the withdrawal made a 20% error upward to the amount we requested and then taxed the higher amount. All paperwork submitted to American Equity was correct. Their incompetent employees made the errors.
Wen, We are sorry to hear about your experience and thank you for bringing it to our attention. Someone from our office will be contacting you shortly.
This annuity was sold to my aging father when he was 8 months away from turning 80 years old. He had advanced stage COPD and in clearly declining health. There was a high likelihood of assisted living care in his future as well as his wife's (already an Alzheimer patient). His primary request of any product purchased as liquidity. He was assured that was the case with American Equity Bonus Gold. With a very long accumulation phase and severe penalties on early withdrawal, I believe this was irresponsible of the salesman to suggest this product, and equally irresponsible for the company to *accept* the application in light of his advanced age. The one rider that may have been helpful to him (The Nursing Care Rider) was never offered. The other feature (Qualified Care Needs) is not available to applicants over 75 years old. That demonstrates the point clearly: This is not a product intended for an applicant nearing 80 years old.
Currently, he's 84 years old, in severely declining health and looking at assisted living costs that exceed his monthly income... with no way to access the all of his funds from this annuity. It's my assessment that his financial adviser and American Equity Life have engaged in predatory practices and have taken advantage of an elderly person with intentionally confusing product literature and sale tactics. I would obviously welcome any communication with this company, but at this point I can not recommend them for persons of advanced age.
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This might be fine for younger people who are coming in at a time of low interest rates, but I was confused by Matt ** on this and am stuck with an awful contract, having turned over fixed 3% annuities into this risky low-return disaster. Now I'm stuck with it.
Brenda, We're sorry to hear about your experience. Thank you for your feedback and the time you took to speak with us about your recent review.
My parent owned two annuities from American Equity Investment Life Insurance Company. One was a Deferred Annuity that transferred to my siblings and myself without complaint. The second Annuity (I suspect it was a SPIA - Single Premium Immediate Annuity) was annuitized during while my parents were living. Upon the death of each parent, I was appointed as the executor of each Estate. As the Executor I have the duty to collect all funds, file all taxes, and distribute all residual property. Upon the death of my mother (predeceased by my Father) the payments ended. This could possibly be appropriate if the contract was written as such. But the contract could have included a payout for a specific (or minimum) time period.
Today I called American Equity Investment Life Insurance Company to request information regarding the documentation they would require in order to provided the needed details. I was told that they would supply a copy of the contract and/or history only if I have a Court order. I explained that I have a letter of Qualification (issued by the court) showing that I am the individual that has been appointment the court to settle the affairs of the Estates. I was told that this was not adequate. And I need a Court Order before any information would be provided.
I question the origin of the requirement and the Representative stated that it was Company Policy. The representative is willing to tell me verbally that the contract has been closed (i.e., no more payments) but is unwilling to send supporting documentation. This puts me in a bind in two ways. (1) I cannot support with written evidence that I did my duty of collecting all funds of the Estate(s). And (2) The final individual income tax return should possibly include a deduction for the tax loss on this annuity.
Unrecovered Investment in Annuity: A retiree who contributed to the cost of an annuity can exclude from income a part of each payment received as a tax-free return of the retiree's investment. If the retiree dies before the entire investment is recovered tax free, any unrecovered investment can be deducted on the retiree's final income tax return.
Why would a company have a policy of requiring a court order if a person can support that the court assign that same person the duty of collecting all funds, taxing the tax returns, and other duties? There was another complaint about this requirement by another dissatisfied executor. If you buy an American Equity Investment Life Insurance Company's annuity you might be creating a hardship on your children. What do they have to hide? My next call will be to the Virginia Insurance Commissioner.
Sam, we appreciate the time you took to tell us about your experience. It was our pleasure to work with you following your review and we are happy we were able to come to a resolution. Please do not hesitate to contact us directly if you need anything in the future.
The person who sold me this policy misrepresented just about every aspect. I was told as an annuity, it had a guaranteed interest rate. And would I be interested in the lifetime income rider? What he did not tell me is that the first was dependent on the second. Last year, interest was posted every few months, now it is only calculated at the end of the policy year. This is quite a big thing to leave out of the explanations. "But Ma'am, you signed it?" Yes I did, I trusted this man. Bad idea. He wanted a commission, not my financial well being.
Thank you for the opportunity to review your comments and concerns Julie. One of our representatives will be contacting you soon.
A nice lady answered the phone, very professional. I asked how we did last year, I expected about 4%. Much better than the bank offerings. 10% plus. I didn't expect such a return. I will add to my account at first opportunity. Have a good year.
Thank you for taking the time to share your experience with others Charles, we appreciate the feedback!
My wife's father died leaving an American Equity annuity. Looking at the website policy after he passed, she was the only beneficiary. A later view showed a change where there were two beneficiaries. The company explained that the website was incorrect and the policy was set up with 2. Since the policy was in effect for about 12 years, it seems the company never checked the website in that time. A recent check now shows no policy at all with no notification from the company or any initiated action on my wife's part. I am awaiting a response from this company about this latest change.
My mother passed away very unexpected on the May of this year. We reached out to American Equity Investment Life Insurance Company in July. My siblings and I are disappointed that this has been a very long process with American Equity Investment Life Insurance Company. We have settled All matters (life insurance policies, IRS, pensions, etc.) associated with my Mom's estate months ago but this American Equity matter just drags on.
The issue was with my Mom's distribution page. It was supposed to be distributed equally to her three children equally. The grandchildren were contingent. If my brother passed away his three girls would get my brothers distribution, if I had passed away my three girls would get my distribution. However this is where it began with the nightmare we have been dealing with American Equity. Pam ** the financial consultant put percentages near each of our names including the grandchildren. These percentages didn't even equal 100%. Where was quality control? When Financial consultant fill out paperwork, doesn't someone make sure that everything is correct?
The CEO of American Equity envisioned a company that offered impeccable customer service and provided greater confidence in retirement planning Sleep Insurance. Annuity customers can rest easier knowing their money is principal protected, and if a question does arise, a real person will answer the phone. Yes, real people answer the phones, however, I'm not sure if they are trained on specifics of what the lawyers need to complete a transaction. Just in my case alone, the last two days I had to fax paperwork three separate times, there is so many service failures. As of today 26 of October my siblings and I are still trying to work through issue that have gone wrong with American Equity and they advised me it will take another 7 to 10 business days.
We had received a request to call the agent of American Equity Investment if we wanted to change our percentages. Well he finally got a hold of my husband who is the one bearing this account to call my wife about getting this down before the deadline. Well time came and went and that never did happen and from what I can tell the only one making any money on our account is them.
This may be why our referrals the agent never did follow up on. I know a couple people that were calling and he never got back with. Now we are thinking we made a mistake as we were told our percentage would always go up but never down. I am sad because this is the second time someone has taken advantage of our small and getting smaller retirement account.
James, Thank you for providing feedback about your recent experience. It is important that we understand your concerns. Someone from our team will be following up with you shortly.
Today, I received a call from my agent, Mike **, and he explained how the annuity works. After speaking with him, I am happy with American Equity and will let my money continue to grow. Thanks, Mike for your patience and support.
In 2015 I allocated $20,000 to American Equity and they also gave me $2,000 so my total annuity was $22,000. In 2016 I took $2,000 with no penalty. However, in 2017 I requested $2,000 and was charged almost $600 penalty. To date, my current value is $16,789 and the surrender value is $13,436. My money is not drawing interest as promised plus there is a $611 missing. I should have done more research on this company before I invested.
They are the worst claims department I've ever dealt with! If you need your money quickly, just forget it! And if you make a mistake the whole process starts all over. 10 business days to process, and 5 days to mail! They make sure to keep your money for 2 to 3 more months. When they took the account only took minutes to get money. Let's put it this way. Would never do business with them ever again. They don't inform you about anything, and try to get fees any way they can! Also they prey on the elderly, never finished what they set forth in contract, also didn't pay off what was in contract. Buyer beware!!!
American Equity S&P 500 Index Annuity - I think. I am not even sure of the exact name of the annuity that I have but I know my contract number. I thought that I knew what the agent sold me. After a couple of years of reading my yearly statements, I noticed that I was making nothing. I realized that I would be better off in a fraction of a percent passbook bank account. The trick is that American Equity computes increases and decreases to the S&P 500 on a monthly basis and "pays" annually. They tell you that they cap the monthly S&P 500 increase at 1.2%. Any monthly S&P 500 loss percent has NO cap. This really puts the odds of not paying the customer anything greatly in American Equity's favor. American Equity adds all the monthly percent losses with no cap which unfortunately is often much higher than the 1.2% Cap for gains. The odds against the customer making a gain is very great.
The agent talks very little about this possibility. They tell you that you can earn 1.2 % a month for a possible 14.4% a year. When it is possible to lose 2% or 5% the next month, the negative percent wipes out the very small 1.2% Cap for gains. The agent also talks about a minimum of 1.2% earnings a year which I have yet to see on any statement. It is good not to lose any money but it would sure be good to actually earn something. It is good to know that you can take out 10% a year without any penalty. It is good to know that I can get my money back in only ten years. Agents should show how easy it is to earn nothing the way the annuity formula is set up. There should be a statement of how the odds are in the favor of the American Equity insurance company.
The 4 page statements are so packed with columns of numbers with headings that make no sense that is as confusing as Internal Revenue Service documents. If they would on the front page of the statement simply state Gain or Loss for year in Dollars and Gain or Loss Percent for the year, It would make it somewhat understandable.
Thank you for bringing this to our attention. We take these matters very seriously. We understand you and your agent are meeting to discuss your concerns.
I have just retired but continue to work. Knowing that my Equity account is stable, with potential growth is very important. Time will be the true test of this fund, but to date, I am comfortable that I made a good investment for the future.
Many thanks for your feedback, Sidney. We are pleased to hear you are happy with your experience.
The agent that set up the annuity promised 8% annual returns vs the S&P. Calls to your rude staff were anything but clear on how to get the 8%. It was never made clear how or when to contact what nebulous part with what nebulous format to even change the investment mix, since you were expert at losing money. After several years, I've received less than what I put in, and the process has been full of lies and delays - misdirecting me, finally getting form, but they were the wrong forms, so I had to go through the entire process all over, and the cash was further delayed.
The postal service shows that you received my liquidation document on 6/2/16, but the woman I spoke with 6/10/16 said that the processing department did not receive the request until 6/8/16. This has all come about because I am now disabled, and desperately need the funds. Your cold staff offered no compromise for my much compromised situation. I am so upset that I will have no choice but to take this to the BBB and state insurance departments. This is your last chance.
I doubt if I fully understand how an American Equity annuity works. I always have to check with their office to find out how much I am allowed to withdraw during a year. If you have an excellent "fee only" financial advisor, it is possible to obtain advice on this, or any investment tailored to your circumstances. My independent agent is very high on American Equity and explained the annuity in great detail. Being in the Washington DC area, he understands the needs of government employees and the military.
Still, I am surprised at the low payouts, but that is what they offered, a cap on how much you will make without the danger of losses due to swings in the stock market. One thing for sure, it takes very little knowledge to invest in AE and wait, if that is what you want to do. If you have the time and knowledge, or a trusted and intelligent financial advisor, I suppose it makes sense to do one's own investing without going into annuities, mutual funds etc controlled by others. Just watch Cramer's Mad Money everyday on CNBC.
Donald, thank you for providing feedback about your experience. It is important that we understand your concerns. Someone from our team will be following up with you shortly.
It is very nice experience to have a deal with American Annual Equity. Their customer service is excellent. They are answering all questions that we need. Their withdrawal options allows us that what we need actually. So I will happily recommend their product to everyone if they ask me. It is a relevant, reliable company to all. American Annual Equity has the best and easy and fastest payout options that people need. They are doing their very good job. So everyone can invest in that. American Annual Equity has the fantastic funding options that people we all need. You can get in an appropriate manner.
Jane, thank you for taking the time to share your feedback.
Good experience from working with sales to customer service. Never had a problem. All questions were answered within a day. Payout options, pay dates, survivor options, were all explained. I would recommend them to anyone looking for a lifetime payout.
Thank you, Robert. We appreciate the time you spent to share your additional feedback.
This is a great product. I compared annuities and this was one of the best. Customer service is great and would define try recommend it. No problems with customer service at all as well.
Tim, thank you for taking the time to share your experience with others. We are so happy to hear of the great customer service you received.
My annuity was very helpful for me... I was very satisfied with it as a whole but there were some qualities to it that I didn't fancy as much as others. For one, the price I paid for it was very expensive. Although the customer service was absolutely amazing, the payout was very dissatisfying. Although some things about this experience was quite annoying to me and my fellow counterparts (including aunt, uncle, etc.) I would definitely recommend this Annuity company to anyone else who needs the service in the rough times of 2015. Well have fun.... The customer service is really nice but there were a few people you should talk to. (I WOULD SPEAK TO GEORGE!)
Very high rate for early withdrawal. I am happy with it. Customer service is excellent and they take you step by step on how everything works. I would strongly recommend this company. Just not happy if I had to withdraw early.
Dorothy, your feedback is important to us. We appreciate the time you took to tell us about your experience.
The company we got the annuity from is new to us. We needed to get out of the stock market and have done much better since. This company seems to have more integrity than the last one and I would recommend American Equity to anyone that asks.
Great feedback, Barbara. Thank you for taking the time to share your positive experience.
I find the help that I was given was very helpful and interesting. Cause me to invest. My opinions to accomplish more investment and to continue to help other people to follow the routine and route that I made risk and analysis investment cause growth for the future function may be a little risky but it pays off in the end.
Many thanks for the feedback, Earl. We're pleased to hear you are satisfied with American Equity.
Contacted agent regarding accessing part of funds in account. Agent (who no longer deals with American Equity today) sent paperwork to them on 9/14/15. When I had not gotten my check by last Monday I contacted the agent who gave me the number at American Equity. When I called them the agent there informed me they had the paperwork and this person did not know why my check had not been sent. I was assured it would be mailed on Thursday. I contacted them on Friday and was assured the check $15,000 had been mailed - regular mail - no signature required which seems very irresponsible considering the amount of the check. To date I have not received the check. I called again and they said it should arrive by Friday.
Nancy, American Equity has recently become accredited with ConsumerAffairs in an effort to address the consumer reviews posted on its website. We appreciate the time you took to tell us about your experience. We strive to provide excellent customer service and regret the experience you had. Someone from our team will be contacting you.
Submitted via overnight express mail instructions canceling a $250,000.00 annuity during the 20 day free look period. Letter receipted for @ 12 noon 10 JUNE 2015. Follow up phone call to insure that funds were being returned to my Fidelity account in a timely manner resulted in my being told the company would take no action to refund the monies until it received the contract back from the agent. Contacted the Florida Department of Financial Services to ask about the veracity of this statement. Agents at the FL Department of Financial Services stated unequivocally that American Equity had no right to delay refunding the monies while waiting for a contract to be returned. All that was required was a letter of instruction from me canceling the contract and instructing American Equity to return the $250,000.00 to my Fidelity IRA. That letter was signed for @ 12 noon 10 JUNE 2015.
When I called American Equity today 11 JUNE 2015 @ 1500 EDT the representative, once again, insisted that the company did not have to refund the monies until after the contract was returned. I stated the information I obtained from FL Department of Financial Services. The representative for American Equity stated that his company required that the contract be returned and didn't care what Florida's regulations were. When I asked to speak with a supervisor I was put on hold for ten minutes then told that a supervisor would have to be sent a message to call me back. It has been over an hour since that exchange with no return phone call. American Equity is keeping my funds to earn income on the float while they delay returning monies that are mine.
Several months ago I with my bank president inquired if my annuity could be used as collateral, after confirming, we then proceeded the transaction. I asked several representatives if any penalties or money this would cost me just acting as collateral, not closing it out. I was told time and time again NO. 4 months later everything is in place when I get a letter that states this info will be reported to IRS as interest income and I will be responsible for taxes. The annuity was never closed out, never transferred ownership.
After calling company, I got they neglected to tell me this info. This cost me my loan to be closed which was for a new home. I would think a professional company such as this would be competent enough to give correct info after asking several times but I guess not. This has caused such turmoil in my life, it has affected my health and am left with no solution to my problem.
My mother-in-law, who now lives with us, invested $36,000 with American Equity in a contract which was completed and able to be surrendered March 22.2014. She asked me to take power of attorney for finances to get her funds and reinvest them. American Equity refused saying this power of attorney for finances did not include surrender of the policy. They then called her in one evening and declared her mentally incompetent which was wrong and quite insulting. They insisted they would pay out if I got a "court order' (not specifying what kind of court order, or even what state). We hired an attorney who knew very well she was competent. American Equity they intended to pay out. They fooled our attorney once telling him of course they intended to pay out if he would only clear up the 'power of attorney' issue. He did and two months later there is still not action. We are determined this will not continue.
My dad invested $200,000-$250,000 with this company about 5 years ago to give him a "guaranteed" amount of money per month because his retirement investments took a hard hit in 2009. My dad, unfortunately, passed away this past month. Upon settling his estate, I contacted American Equity Investment to find out if there was a payout amount upon death and what the terms of the annuity were. Well I was shocked to find out that I would only (I use that word because the amount they are paying me versus what my dad invested) be getting $1,600/mo for the next 5 years and then all payments stop. This was the amount that my dad was receiving over the past 5 years of his retirement.
I find it shocking that my dad invested over $200,000 with this company and now upon his death his family is only entitled to $90,000 of the lump sum. $1,600 a month is a minimal investment amount that they were paying my dad and now me and at the end of the 5 years they get to keep all of the principal and then get to keep all the interest at that point.
I called today to get a copy of the contract and was informed that only way I could get a copy was by court order!!! My dad kept immaculate records and I cannot find the original contract he signed with this company so I am beginning to wonder if they even gave him a copy? I am interested in speaking with an attorney and looking into this matter further. I find it shocking that my dad worked his whole life and he gave these people his money trusting he was doing the right thing and they are basically stealing it from him.
American Equity expert review by ConsumerAffairs
American Equity is an annuity provider that sells multiple types of annuities in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. They are a publically-traded company that is American-owned and operated.
Product options: American Equity offers a variety of products so that it can meet the all customers’ needs. Their products include traditional fixed annuities, fixed index annuities, flexible premium annuities, single premium annuities and immediate annuities.
Financial strength: Both A.M. Best Company and Standards and Poor have given American Equity an A- rating. The company manages more than $40 billion in assets.
Educational resources: Interested consumers can visit the American Equity website to access several resources. The website offers calculators to help consumers understand the benefits of different types of annuities and a list of helpful links so that consumers can learn more before investing with any company.
Responsive service: American Equity customers can expect a prompt response to their phone calls and contracts are usually issued less than three days.
Consumer guidance: American Equity can offer assistance at any stage of consumers’ annuity purchase, from understanding what an annuity is to receiving the payouts from their annuity.
Best for: Savers, savers plus income generators and retirees.
American Equity Company Information
- Company Name:
- American Equity
- 6000 Westown Parkway
- West Des Moines
- Postal Code:
- United States
- 888) 221-1234