It's cold in Minnesota, so hopefully Cupid's arrows won't sting too badly. The citizens of the Land of Ten Thousand Lakes should send their Attorney General roses today. (Well, maybe a snow shovel and de-icer would be more thoughtful, come to think of it.)
Recently elected Democrat Lori Swanson hit the ground (or snow) running. Less than two weeks into her position, she sued Minnesota-based Allianz Life Insurance -- a U.S. subsidiary of global giant Allianz SE (NYSE: AZ ) -- for violating state laws by selling "unsuitable" annuities to people over the age of 70.
When you round up the usual suspects of unsuitable products for seniors, equity-index annuities (EIAs) are at the top of the list. Ms. Swanson indicated that other insurance companies selling EIAs in Minnesota may also be investigated. Additionally, companies who don't do business in Minnesota, such as industry giant American International Group (NYSE: AIG ) , may face scrutiny by other states if this suit proves successful.
Some professionals refuse to sell EIAs because of their long surrender periods and excessive surrender charges. In a news conference, Ms. Swanson pointed out that a 73-year-old man paid a $6,000 surrender charge on a $40,000 annuity in order to pay medical bills. Allianz also sold almost 5,000 annuities to people over the age of 70. The sad fact is that most of these products will not mature until the purchaser is deceased.
If it weren't so cold in Minnesota, I would bring Ms. Swanson some roses myself. Ah, but it is the thought that counts, after all. Happy Valentine's Day, Lori Swanson -- and good luck!
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Fool contributor Buz Livingston, CFP, appreciates your feedback. He believes most people will benefit from professional advice. He owns SPY but not an EIA. Buzz is also very glad he lives in Florida, especially on Valentine's Day. The Fool's disclosure policy urges you to visit beautiful Minneapolis.