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Allianz Life Insurance Review

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Eric Stauffer is a former insurance agent and banker turned consumer advocate. His priority is to help educate individuals and families about the different types of insurance they need, and assist them in finding the best...

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UPDATED: Nov 30, 2018

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Although they are one of the biggest insurance companies in the world, Germany-based Allianz isn’t particularly well known in the United States. Compared to the big players whose brands are household names, Allianz is a hardly on the radar; however, they rank as the third largest insurance company in the world. In fact, they are the 21st largest public company in the world overall, according to Forbes 2017 rankings.

Allianz is a global company operating in many different countries. They have billions in assets and offer different products depending on the country. In the U.S., Allianz offers mainly life insurance and annuities, competing with companies like Prudential and MetLife, both of which have the name and brand recognition that Allianz lacks.

Allianz Life Insurance Company of North America operates in all states with a focus on retirement planning. Like many such companies, they have a separate company in New York; the main insurance company is headquartered in Minneapolis.

Large companies that are based in other countries often face something of an uphill battle when it comes to the American market. Even though they have been operating in the U.S. for over 100 years, Allianz remains a foreign company and may not be viewed the same way as an American-born insurer – we’ll take a look at their reputation and where they stand in a very competitive market.

Allianz Overview

Allianz was founded in Berlin in 1890, providing marine and accident insurance. Three years later, they expanded to London, and in 1904 opened operations in the United States. By the time the First World War began the company had moved into several other countries and were the largest marine insurer in Germany.

The company continued to expand into new markets over the following years, while also adding new products, including auto insurance in 1918. In spite of having their headquarters bombed during the Second World War, Allianz survived those difficult years and moved their operations to Munich after the war left Germany divided.

The decades following the war saw enormous growth and expansion, with offices established in multiple countries and acquisitions of a number of companies around the world, eventually bringing Allianz into the ranks of the world’s biggest players in the insurance game.

Allianz today operates in 70 countries and employs more than 140,000 people. The Insurance Information Institute ranks them as the third largest insurance company in the world based on 2014 assets.

In the U.S., Allianz has focused its operations on the retirement planning market, providing life insurance and annuity products. Their products are sold through agents and financial planners across the country. Allianz does not currently offer online quoting, nor do they sell products directly.

Allianz is also known for providing travel insurance products to Americans and in other nations across the globe through Allianz Global Assistance. You can read our review of the travel insurance company here; this review will focus on the life insurance company.

Allianz life insurance products are pretty focused – they aim at the market seeking to plan for retirement and leave a legacy for loved ones. You won’t see the kind of simple term life or final expenses planning products that other life insurance companies offer as budget plans for those who are seeking basic coverage at a low price.

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Products

Allianz writes an incredible array of products across the globe, but in North America they are focused on retirement products and life insurance.

Life Insurance

The Allianz website lists only one type of life insurance product, and that’s fixed index life. This is a particular type of universal life insurance that includes an investment aspect with varied opportunities for growth. Investments are tied to a particular index that determines how the cash accumulation occurs.

Allianz offers two fixed index universal life insurance products, one for individuals and another for couples who want a survivorship policy option.

Life Pro+

Allianz Life Pro+ Fixed Universal Life Insurance is the main life product for individuals. Like basic universal life, this policy has a death benefit that can be left to the beneficiary income-tax free, as well as paying for final expenses and other costs left behind after death.

Like a standard universal life product, the Pro+ has a cash accumulation account, but as a fixed index policy the growth of that product is tied to an index that can be selected based on the financial needs of the policyholder.

The Pro+ product can be issued between the ages of 18-80, and there is also a juvenile class for issue between the ages of 0-17.

Minimum death benefit at issue is $100,000, with coverage available up to $65,000,000. The minimum monthly premium is $25.

The plan offers three death benefit options, which can be changed after the first year, unless you want to choose the third option:

  1. Level death benefit equal to the issued benefit amount.
  2. Increasing death benefit that includes the issued amount along with the total of the cash accumulation account, which grows over   time based on the options selected.
  3. Return of Premium, which pays out the death benefit amount plus the total of all premiums paid during the policy period. This option must be selected at issue and can’t be chosen later.

The policy offers several premium payment options, including monthly, quarterly, semi-annual, and annual.

There is also a Premium Deposit Fund rider that allows a single lump sum premium payment from which the annual premiums will be withdrawn. There are 3-10 year premium deposit plans available.

Two accelerated death benefit riders are available: a Chronic Illness rider and a Terminal Illness rider. These allow the policyholder to receive benefits prior to death in a qualifying illness situation.

The Pro+ policy has a number of fees associated with it:

  • A 5% premium charge fee
  • A monthly insurance cost charge that is based on the policyholder’s class (age, gender, health status)
  • A monthly policy charge of $7.50
  • A monthly expense charge, also based on the policy class

There is also a 10-year decreasing surrender charge.

As a fixed index universal policy, the Pro+ invests the cash accumulation into one of these four options:

  • Barclays US Dynamic Balance Index
  • A blended index comprised of Dow Jones, Barclays, EURO STOXX, and Russell 2000
  • A blended index with a 2% annual floor
  • S&P 500 Index

There are a number of riders that can be added to this policy:

  • Inflation Protection
  • Waiver of Specified Premium
  • Enhanced Liquidity
  • Enhanced Cash Value
  • Additional Term
  • Other Insured Term
  • Long Term Care Accelerated Benefit
  • Child Term
  • Loan Protection

Life Pro+ Survivor

Life Pro+ Survivor is a similar policy, but designed to protect two people under one policy. Like the individual plan it is a fixed index universal life policy, but it pays out on the death of the second person listed on the policy and not the first. There is an optional First-to-Die rider that can be added to the policy to provide a death benefit when the firs insured dies.

This policy allows the cash value, which accumulates in an account linked to an index just like the Pro+ above, to be accessed tax-free as needed.

Issue age for the Pro+ Survivor is between 30 and 80 years old. The minimum death benefit for this product is a little higher at $200,000, with the same maximum of $65,000,000. Death benefit options are the same as the individual policy.

This policy offers most of the same rider options as the individual. The policy is much the same as the individual version with a few changes made to accommodate covering two people.

Annuities

Allianz writes three types of annuities to provide income for retirement as well as provide a death benefit.

Fixed Index Annuities

These are designed to work in a similar manner to the life insurance policy we just discussed; only they are more aimed towards investment for supplemental income purposes and less towards providing a death benefit.

These annuities are tied to an index, which determines the level and rate of growth. They combine investment with the protection of an annuity by tying the growth to the index without actually putting the money into the market.

Allianz writes several different fixed index annuities, differing mainly based on the index and other investment details:

  • Allianz 222
  • Allianz 360
  • Allianz 365i
  • Essential Income 7
  • Core Income 7
  • Retirement Foundation ADV

Variable Annuities

These allow the investor to select where they’d like to see the money invested; these annuities do involve some risk and can result in losses. They also include greater growth potential than some other annuities.

Allianz has two variable annuity options: The Allianz Visions Variable Annuity and the Allianz Connections Variable Annuity. Both are designed to create growth for retirement income, but they have a few differences.

The Visions policy has a base contract option along with a bonus option, while Connections has just the base. Both have an initial payment of $10,000 minimum and a seven-year withdrawal schedule, although the details of that schedule vary.

Index Variable Annuities

Combining index fixed and variable annuities, the index fixed annuity allows a variety of options for growth including the use of indexes to increase the investment.

The Alliance Index Advantage is designed to provide both growth potential and protection for the investment. There are two index strategies as well as a variety of investment options. This annuity has a six-year withdrawal schedule.

Like the other plans, these can provide both a death benefit and tax-deferred retirement income.

Determining the right annuity for your needs – or even whether annuities are a good choice – requires a lot of research, and often the assistance of an expert. When choosing an expert, its best to go with a third-party that is not incentivized by selling a policy.

Quoting and Premiums

Because Allianz doesn’t offer online quoting, we are unable to provide a sample rate. Furthermore, they write different insurance products than those we normally quote, so it wouldn’t be a fair comparison.

Normally, we test rates on term life insurance policies, a product not available from Allianz. Their life products are designed to meet a specific need, and it’s best to discuss with a financial advisor whether or not that type of policy will work for your particular situation.

We would not expect Allianz to offer the least expensive option available for life insurance. There are a few reasons for that. First of all, there’s the fact that they write only through agents or financial advisors, who take a commission from every sale, increasing the price. Second, they are not positioned as a budget or low-cost insurance company. They’re aimed at people who want permanent coverage along with an opportunity for investment and growth.

It is also fairly well-known in the independent financial advisor industry that these types of insurance policies come with hefty premiums. Those looking for simple term life coverage would be better served with a different company.

Claims

Allianz accepts claims either by phone or online.

The toll-free claims line is available Monday-Friday 7 a.m. through 6 p.m. and until 5 p.m. on Fridays. The number to call is 1-800-950-1963, except for Variable Annuity claims, which are handled via a different line at 1-800-624-0197.

There is also a claims form that can be filled out online to open a claim for any of the products. This is somewhat unusual for this type of company, but becoming more popular and more expected by customers as well. This allows claims to be filed any time of day or night.

The website notes that all beneficiaries on the policy will be notified directly and receive a claims package in the mail that they can use to submit the claim.

Allianz states that they aim to process claims within 10 days of filing, which is a fair amount of time for a life insurance claim. They do note that claims processing time can vary – that’s standard, since every claim is a little different.

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Customer Feedback and Ratings

Allianz Life Insurance Company of North America has an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau and has been accredited since 1972. There are only 27 complaints against the company in the past three years, 11 of which were closed in the past 12 months. That’s a very low number considering how large this company is.

Most life insurance and financial services companies of this sort do tend to have a low complaint volume, but this is particularly low given that Allianz is a huge company.

ConsumerAffairs.com has more complaints listed, with 66 ratings. Of the 66 ratings, 48 of them are rated as one out of five stars. There seems to be some confusion on the part of the reviewers, however, as multiple complaints regarding Allianz Global Services (the travel insurance part of Allianz) are mixed in with complaints regarding the annuities division. This tends to skew the numbers in terms of complaint volume; not all 66 complaints relate to Allianz Life Insurance of North America.

The complaints that do focus on the annuities seem to focus on difficulty with claims, some of which can be attributed to policyholders who did not clearly understand the terms of their contract, although there are some complaints regarding poor customer service.

It doesn’t seem that the customer complaints were out of line in terms of not understanding the terms of the products. In 2012 Allianz faced a $10 million settlement in a multi- state lawsuit accusing the company of unfairly and deceptively representing the suitability of their annuity products to customers. The suit focused on “two-tier” annuities.

The suit resulted not only in a settlement but also in required corrective action by Allianz in 44 states in regards to how they represent these annuity products to potential customers. Allianz responded to the suit with insistence that there was no wrongdoing, and agreed to make what they called “minor modifications” to their practices.

A lawsuit is always something that perks up interest and raises concerns, although suits of this nature aren’t always indicative of a major problem with the company.

What is important to note is that annuities overall tend to leave some investors unhappy with the results. As a general rule, financial experts don’t recommend annuities as the best choice for retirement income, and Allianz is no different. Annuities tend to have a lot of fees and not as much return on investment as most people would hope.

This article in particular, looks both at annuities in general and specifically Allianz annuity offerings and breaks down some of the things to consider before buying. Failure to learn about the fees, charges, and penalties as well as the reality of the potential for growth can lead to some very disappointed customers.

With that aside, Allianz does generally appear have a pretty solid reputation. The complaint volume is low, and the company holds a solid position in the market. In spite of the lawsuit, which points to a very particular and specific issue, there aren’t any major concerns regarding Allianz being a reputable company.

Bottom Line

Allianz focuses all of their products on retirement planning, even their very specific type of life insurance. As a result, their products are going to appeal to an equally specific market. Those in search of traditional life insurance, especially term coverage, will need to look elsewhere, as Allianz doesn’t write that type of insurance.

Because of the heavy emphasis on investments and the investment choices that need to be made with these products, Allianz is best suited to those who are pretty savvy in terms of how these investment work, what they really want or need out of the products, and what they can expect in terms of return on investment. A good, trustworthy financial advisor is also your best bet when choosing products like those offered by Allianz.

Those who are looking to get the best price on a life insurance policy should consider another company, as Allianz is unlikely to fit into the budget shopper’s comparison list. But if you’re in the market to combine a death benefit for your family with some form of investment and retirement income, Allianz is worth a look.

For a list of companies that we recommend, visit our Best Insurance Companies page.

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Review Information

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About Eric Stauffer

Author: Eric StaufferI am a former insurance agent and banker turned consumer advocate. My priority is to help educate individuals and families about the different types of insurance they need, and assist them in finding the best place to get it.

21 Comments

  1. I want to thank Eric and all who have contributed to this discussion.

    I’m looking at my financial situation and whether I can realistically retire any time soon.

    I visited with a financial adviser who offered up Allianz 222 as a great option, for the same reasons some of you were told: safety and growth.

    I also am concerned about leaving a legacy for my children, and that apparently is one aspect of Allianz that seems to be okay although only Eric mentions it in his initial description and discussion.

    However, I am now convinced to seek out a few-based advisor and find out what other options are.

    I don’t have a retirement amount anywhere near as high as some of you have, and I am now convinced I have a lot more research to do.

    Thank you again. —Denise

    Reply
  2. The 222 is an awesome product with many benefits. Using the income for life, benefits are the increasing payout as the market rises. It would absolutely help keep up with inflation in later years and be a great part of your financial plan. The 22% bonus doesn’t hurt either

    Reply
  3. We are highly considering moving our Jackson Nat’l Annuity investments from our advisor in KS of 8 yrs to another individual advisor in TX where we live now, who uses Fusion Capital Management as their SEC registered Investment advisor. The annuities he is talking about putting us in is the Allianz Annuity 222. We are not sure of making this change…? It looks like Allianz was a well-rated company and they are offering 30% bonus to sign but we are told we will not get benefits until it completes its 10th year. And the death benefit is a joint benefit. Can you give any insight into this? Been reading other negative comments about people who have bought into these Allianz Annuities. Please advise, we would appreciate it.

    Reply
    • Before you make this major decision to place your money in the hands of Allianz, please do yourself a favor and check out the history of the company and its track record! They have had numerous class action suits filed against it by hundreds of thousands of customers who have been duped by the deceptive sales practices employed by this company! The facts speak volumes about how they treat customers!
      Also, Google Allianz concerning its role in World War Two! Not what you call customer friendly even way back then!
      Bottom line, do your homework before you trust your money to this organization! In the long run, they are not going to have your back!☹️

      Reply
  4. Just to clarify my previous comment–those returns were AFTER the monthly interest cap of 1.6%. In other words, NET interest gains. And my math was a bit off on the bonus percent–it was 18.35%.

    I’d also like to point out that the Allianz 222 annuity has NO fees!

    There is not a single “one size fits all” annuity. Choose wisely based on what your goals and expectations are.

    Reply
  5. It is sad when people sign contracts without fully understanding them. Misrepresentation by agents is deplorable, but it is YOU, the consumer, who are responsible for researching and getting a 2nd, 3rd, or even 4th opinion if not COMPLETELY comfortable and knowledgeable of the product.

    I purchased an Allianz 222 Fixed Index Annuity three years ago and am more than satisfied with my selection. The monthly sum S&P 500 Index in the last 12 months yielded 12.23% (!) to my “Accumulation Value” (AV), and an additional 50% bonus to my “Protected Income Value” (PIV), for a total of 18.46% interest. We all know that this last year (2017) was most likely an outlier for stock market returns, but this shows the income potential on this annuity. Even if it earns zero for the next 3 years, I will still be a happy customer.

    Reply
    • Hi,
      based on my limited understanding as we are still deciding if we should purchase 222 annuities, there is a cap for each year or month (based on your choice) so I don’t believe the actual $ has grown based on the actual Market performance but rather maybe to the cap of 2.5% to your $ which later is available to withdraw as an option or apply as life insurance payout

      Reply
  6. We are about to purchase a hybrid fixed indexed joint annuity with Allianz via a group called Accelerated Wealth here in Colorado Springs. There are two different Allianz annuities in the plan though I don’t know the name of them (they haven’t mentioned any particular name) as well as two other equity type investments called AWP and an ASI income fund. They balance the fixed annuities with the other two. They have an investor in their group that manages the equity portfolio(AWP and ASI) through Schwabb. They tell us that after three years there is no withdrawl penalty. I’m not sure why people pull out of annuities. We’re retired and have LTC policy that has an annual built in 2% inflation factor built in that would give us about $220K for each of us if we needed it for health issues. I can’t imagine what kind of “emergency” would come up that I’d need to access a huge amount of money from an annuity. People talk about emergencies but maybe that’s earlier in life when one looses their job, incur a major change in health,etc. The portfolio that Accelerated Wealth is proposing consists of about an even split between annuity funds and equity funds and about 10% cash. They have no fees as their take is built in though they say it amount to about 4%. We’re retired, have an Air Force retirement check every month and will have 2 social security checks in a year. I’ve had one since 2011 (disability). Right now I have about $1.4 million in a 55/45 split between bonds and equities. If the market tanks, we’re screwed as half of all our money is tied up in the stock market, money which we need to live on since we are both retired and just hit age 65. The house (which is hopefully our retirement home….no more moving), is far from being paid off. I really don’t care if it’s ever paid off (3.5% mortgage). The only worry is being forced out of our home by the government if we don’t pay an ever increasing amount of money in the form of tax payments for the privilege of living in a house, or if the government decides to have soc security payments means tested. (Medicare already is). My wife will defer soc security until age 66. We’d have to sell our bonds at a loss if the market tanks since interest rates are non-existent and the only direction they can go is up. I feel that I’m too risk exposed right now. I have been keeping even in my investments since retiring in 2011 and that’s in light of a great stock market. Annuities and a more conservative investment in equities I think would be a whole lot safer since I believe we are overdue for a big correction and soon. Your thoughts much appreciated.

    Reply
    • Hi MrBill,

      What you are looking to discuss is beyond the scope of what can be answered in the comment thread of this review. However, I have a person who specializes in this level of estate planning, and most importantly, I trust in these types of situations.

      If you are interested in speaking with them, send over your contact information via our contact page – https://www.expertinsurancereviews.com/contact/

      I will personally introduce you two, and he will be able to help you in this situation.

      Best,
      Eric Stauffer

      Reply
  7. I am currently holding a fairly well diversified 457 with T.Rowe Price in the amount of about 600k and I am being advised by a financial planner to take 200k and invest it in Allianz Index Advantage New York Variable Annuity as a way of protecting some of my assets against a market correction. Does that make sense or should I leave my money where it is.

    Reply
    • Run away as fast as you can! Do some research on how many class action suits this scam company has had filed against them! They are totally unscrupulous and will promise you whatever it takes to get control of your money! Be very, very careful before you give them your hard-earned money!
      I was burned very badly by this crooked outfit!
      Check carefully before you write a check!!!!

      Reply
      • Who was the company that you were totally burned by?

        Reply
    • Hi Patrick,

      Great question!

      The very first thing I would need to understand if I were you, is how this financial planner is compensated. If they are an independent financial planner that you pay directly, and they earn no commission if you sign up for the annuity, then it may be a viable recommendation based on their examination of your portfolio.

      However, if the financial planner is actually an employee of this company or earns a commission for selling it to you, I would run the other way as fast as I could.

      Without having all the details of your personal situation, I can’t really get a good read on whether its a good plan or not. I can tell you, however, that buying financial products from the equivalent of a salesperson can lead to very muddy results. Sometimes they truly are looking out for you. Other times they are just looking to make their quotas. I personally have a hard time trusting anyone who is motivated to sell me something for their own financial gain.

      Best,
      Eric Stauffer

      Reply
  8. I have been a policy holder Allianz since 1986. They took over my College Master policy that I bought in 1960. I have paid premiums for all these years. I am now told that to keep my policy in force I must increase my monthly premium from $55 to $300, which I cannot afford . It is only a $25,000 policy, but I was counting on that for my wife. If Allianz took my premiums and invested at 4% average they have gained $41,000. How is that ethical? Perhaps they are on firm legal ground, but I view that as bordering on being a scam. My advice to the young is to buy a term policy for 10 years and put your money in a reputable mutual fund with either Vanguard or Fidelity Investments. I would never recommend Allainz to anyone

    Reply
  9. As the complaint above I purchase an annuity in 2006 and was told if I did not touch the money for 10 years my money would double and after the 10 years I could withdraw the full amount. I was also told money would earn 7%. We had been using the same financial advisor since 1999. She was very friendly and came to several of our homes and at other times would take out to eat to discuss our investments. She shared some personal information with us and we shared personal info with her. We felt like she was a personal friend I was age 61 when she took my $75,000 in this 10 Allianz annuity. My wife and I did not know this was an annuity investment nor did the agent tell us what or how annuity works. In 2015 we found out she had been lying to us and she was terminated from the company she worked for. After that we found out after the 10 years is up I can only withdraw 5% a year over 20 years which will mean I will be age 92. Once me and my wife and I die the money ends I our sons don’t get any money given to our sons. The $75,000 I invested went down to $52,000,$53,000 and the life benefit went down to that amount. I don’t understand how they could have my money for 10 years and the current value is still so low. Makes me think that Allianz is not an honest company. That’s not my only problem. This investment advisor did not get any type of license until 2008. Her brother is a broker/investment broken and she wrote up the investments and she was either signing his name or sending him the contracts to sign. She has since been investigated and lost her license. Her brother is still working for investment company. We have hired an attorney and have written few letters to her and her brother but no response yet. That contract with Allianz was fraud because she did not have a license and her brothers name appears on that contract and also many of our other investments. We never met her brother and he is 400 plus miles away from us. We have not contacted Allianz to explain what happened yet. We cannot afford to sue anybody and we will only get $7500 a year. $7500 a year does not help our retirement life. We sometime cannot afford our medications and we cannot afford to payoff any of our loans. Do you have any suggestions or can you help us. We are desperate for help. Thanks.

    Reply
    • Hi Kenneth,

      I am sorry to hear about your situation.

      While I can understand you may be a little skeptical about meeting with another financial planner, I would recommend sitting down with a FEE-BASED advisor that charges you a flat fee for advice.

      The problem with the advisor you worked with through Allianz, is they are glorified sales people who are paid based on selling Allianz products. Their interests do not completely align with their “clients.” A fee-based advisor is not incentivized to sell you certain products, but rather give you a legitimate financial plan based around your current situation.

      Hope that helps.

      Best,
      Eric Stauffer

      Reply
  10. If anyone is thinking of purchasing an Allianz product reconsider and find another company! I have been involved in a two year running dispute with this unscrupulous company! I was sold an annuity and was told it had a 10 year waiting period before I could receive my money! I was told that the money over that ten year period would double due to the fact that I would be paid 7% interest! Truth be told, I found out years later that it was not a 7% , 10 year growth period it was actually a 30 year 2.2% annuity! When this fraudulent sales practice was brought to the attention of the Allianz corporate folks I was told basically – too bad, you bought it, deal with it! There was no discussion or compromise basically I was told tough luck! I found the people that I spoke with and dealt with at the company rude , condescending and far from helpful! Again, if you’re thinking about purchasing an Allianz product I have one word for you – DON’T!!!

    Reply
    • Jack, what was the name of the annuity, such Allianz 222 Annuity. Also, was it a fixed index annuity or something else. Please advise. I’m in the middle of investing with Allianz, but haven’t signed yet. Thank you. Hope you get some results.

      Reply
      • Hi Debbie,
        My annuity is the Allianz Rewards deferred variable annuity! My advice is to run away from this Company as fast as you can! Do some research online and you will find out that Allianz has had numerous class-action lawsuits filed against it by upwards of 300,000 people for doing exactly what they did to me which was completely lying and distorting the facts about the annuity, it’s duration and how it actually worked! I was told nothing but lies and when you see what the annuity actually will pay it is nothing like what you were told at the sales pitch! I was told my money would double in 10 years and that I would have control of that money at that time! The truth is that it was a 30 year annuity and I can only get my hands on 5% of my own money each year for 20 years after the 10 year growth period! Honestly, do some research before you put any of your money into this fraudulent outfit! I’m sorry I didn’t respond sooner but I just saw your post now

        Jack

        Reply
  11. We have just purchased an annuity from Allianz and we are very concerned. I have now read some disturbing information about this company. What should we do? We also have investments through Morgan Stanley. We need someone that is very honest as we can not afford to loose our investments. Your help is appreciated.

    Reply
    • Hi Kate,

      I would recommend contacting a local “FEE-BASED” financial planner to look over your finances. They can give you personalized advice for your specific situation, and they are not incentivized by commissions on financial products.

      Best,
      Eric Stauffer

      Reply

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