In this article, we will discuss all you need to know about annuity loans. We will tell you what they are; when you can take one, the process involved in taking one, as well as the advantages and disadvantages of taking this kind of loan. You will surely learn a lot by the time you are done reading…
What are Annuity Loans?
Annuity loans or annuitetslån, as they are called in Norwegian, happens when an annuity holder borrows money against the cash value of their annuity contract. It allows a person to access the funds kept for their retirement without having to cash out on this source of income.
To better understand the definition above, we need to explain the terms: annuity, annuity holder, and annuity contract.
An annuity is a contract agreement between an individual and an insurance company whereby the individual makes either bulk or instalment payments, which will then be paid back by the insurance company as disbursements at regular intervals that could start straightaway or later at an agreed time.
The payment from the insurance company that is made later is known as a deferred annuity.
From the above, the person who makes the payment to the insurance company is known as the annuity holder.
An annuity contract can be between a minimum of two parties: the holder and the issuer (the insurance company). Or it could be between a maximum of four parties: the holder, the issuer, the beneficiary, and the annuitant.
Seeing as we have explained who the holder and issuer are, that leaves us with the beneficiary and the annuitant.
The annuitant is the person that their life expectancy is the determinant for the amount as well as when the payments will begin and end. Usually, the holder and the annuitant are the same person. The beneficiary, on the other hand, is the person who receives the benefit in case the annuitant dies.
The contract ensures that the insurance company makes the payment when the agreed time is reached. It is risk-free for the holder, annuitants, as well as the Beneficiary.
Forms of Annuity
Four forms exist which we discuss briefly below:
This type is also called retirement annuities. Once this type is chosen, the insurance company will begin to make payment to the individual immediately after the contract is purchased via a lump-sum payment. Hence, the owner does not have to wait for retirement or a certain age before receiving payment.
This type as the name implies is an amount of money that is fixed and paid by the insurance company despite the investments’ performance.
This is the reverse of animmediate annuity. In this case, either a lump-sum or regular payment is made to the insurance company. The money is now paid back to you later in the future; usually at retirement age or any age agreed upon.
Unlike a fixed annuity, this type allows the issuer to make payments based on the performance of the investment. Hence, an owner could lose the principal if the investment performance is lower than when the contract was purchased.
This type alone has this disadvantage. Nevertheless, you can take certain precautions during the contract signing that offers you protection from such losses. You will have to enlist the help of a financial professional to aid you when choosing this form of contract. Click here to learn more about the types of annuities in detail.
When can a Loan be taken out?
When a holder chooses the deferred type of the contract, it means he wants to receive payment from the insurance company later. Hence, the payment made by the holder to the insurance company to buy the complete contract is made at regular intervals.
When the holder reaches retirement age (which is presently 59 ½ years), the insurance company will then begin to pay the holder the money agreed in the contract every month.
However, the holder can choose to borrow from the contract’s total cash value before they reach their retirement age. When this is done, such a loan has to be paid back over some time (usually five years) and with interest.
The Process of Taking a Loan
The loan process begins with an official request submission from the holder to the contract issuer (which is usually an insurance company). The request could be approved or declined depending on several reasons.
Upon approval of the loan, the loan is then processed, and a bulk sum is paid to the holder who is then expected to pay back the loan at regular intervals to clear up the load.
A good number of issuers will allow their holders to borrow up to a maximum of 50% of their total cash value. Nevertheless, the terms of conditions differ from one insurance company to another. Hence, it is expected that you make proper findings and research before taking out an annuity loan.
Advantages of Taking a Loan
The first advantage of taking this sort of pension loan offers you protection from the payment of “surrender charges”. A surrender charge is the amount of money paid to the insurance company if a contract is cancelled before the agreed time.
The effect of surrender charges on the cash value is so great that it can cancel any gain that the holder would have acquired from the contract in the first place. Hence, taking this type of loan is a great way to escape this issue and still keep the contract.
Another advantage of taking an annuity loan is that it protects you from the penalty known as “early distribution” and taxes. Usually, if an owner sells their payment right before retirement age, a 10% penalty charge known as early distribution is made on the withdrawn amount.
Furthermore, when the annuity is sold, it becomes taxable which can further reduce the overall value.
Hence, instead of selling, most owners just borrow to avoid the charges mentioned above that can reduce the cash value.
Disadvantages of Taking an Annuity Loan
The first disadvantage lies in the inability of the owner to repay the loan within the stipulated time frame. When this occurs, it is regarded as a distribution. This always carries a penalty charge of 10% which as we mentioned above is known as “early distribution”.
Another disadvantage is that when you borrow from your pension, the capacity of your investment to grow is affected and potential earnings which you would have received are foregone.
How to Liquidate an Annuity?
If you choose to liquidate rather than take a loan as discussed above, there are two ways of cashing out on one’s pension contract before retirement age. We will discuss both ways below…
An owner can request withdrawals from their issuer before their retirement age. The problem is that doing this might cause one to pay the IRS a 10% penalty and the insurance company a surrender charge.
Hence, this is not advisable for any owner as the loss could be really great compared to the total cash value. But if you want to go ahead, we recommend that you speak with a professional in the financial sector; a tax adviser or public accountant should be able to give you advice on what you stand to lose.
Yes, it can be sold and this is the second way you can cash out this source of income. You are afforded the choices of either selling all the payment rights or keeping a part of it. That means you can either sell it completely or sell it in part.
While doing this, you need to know that the value will always be worth less than what it is currently and also less than what its future worth will be. Hence, you will still gain more if you are patient enough for your future payments.
Apart from this, the company aiding you in transacting the sale will also be paid a fee once it is sold. This fee is an additional cost that will cause the cash value to drop significantly.
An annuity is a great investment that keeps your money safe, secures your future, and can even benefit your loved ones. The fact that one can take loans out of it is an added advantage. And we hope the article above has equipped you with the relevant information you need.