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Delaware Annuity Reviews

Delaware Life Target Income Fixed Indexed Annuity Review

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byNikhil Bhauwala

Wed Mar 06 2024

Author @ AdvisorWorld.com Inc
Target Income

Introduction

Fixed Index Annuities are contracts between the annuitant and an insurance company in which the insurance company promises to credit interest based on the performance of a certain stock market index. Fixed Index Annuities have an inbuilt capital protection feature, so your principal will remain safe even if the index goes down. 

Annuities are complex products, and many advisors try to missell them without properly understanding the buyer’s needs. Thus, you must educate yourself on these products and not solely depend upon the annuity agent’s high-pressure sales pitch.

This article discusses an in-depth review of the Delaware Life Target Income Fixed Indexed Annuity. Delaware Life Target Income is a deferred, fixed-indexed annuity that may be a good option if you are looking for a fixed-indexed annuity that offers good flexibility in terms of withdrawal, with a core focus on income growth and the safety of the principal. This annuity offers some good indexing options, which have the ability to provide reasonably expected (good but not the best) returns in the market. After extensive research and due diligence, I have provided an in-depth and unbiased analysis of this plan.

The review of the Delaware Life Target Income Fixed Indexed Annuity will be broken into multiple subcategories:

  • Product Description
  • Rates and Costs Associated with the Delaware Life Target Income Fixed Indexed Annuity
  • Riders
  • What Makes This Product Stand Out?
  • What I Don’t Like
  • Company Details
  • Conclusion

Product Description - Delaware Life Target Income Fixed Indexed Annuity

The Delaware Life Target Income is a Fixed Indexed Annuity (FIA) plan that offers the annuitant (annuity investor) an opportunity to earn a market index-linked return without having to incur the risk of market downside. This is a suitable plan for people who are looking for a fixed indexed annuity that offers greater flexibility in terms of lifetime withdrawals and aims to grow and protect their retirement savings. 

Let’s have a look at the high-level fine print of the Delaware Life Target Income Fixed Indexed Annuity, and then we will discuss each point in detail.

Delaware Life Target Income 10 Fixed Index Annuity rate sheet (as of September 2023)
Delaware Life Target Income 10 Fixed Index Annuity rate sheet (as of September 2023)

How does the Delaware Life Target Income Fixed Indexed Annuity policy work?

Any annuitant (maximum age at the time of policy issue: 85) can purchase the Delaware Life Target Income Fixed Indexed Annuity with a minimum initial purchase amount of $25,000, and in return, he will earn market index returns (calculated through a formula that we will discuss shortly), credited as per the chosen crediting period. Apart from the regular crediting period, there are various events that may trigger earnings credit: On free withdrawals, for a long-term care event or terminal illness or injury event, or when a death benefit is payable.

The Delaware Life Income Stages Fixed Indexed Annuity offers the annuitant to choose from one or more of the four indexes (S&P 500 Index, Morgan Stanley Global Opportunities Index, First Trust Capital Strength Barclays 5% Index, and RBA Select Equity Yield CIBC 5% Index) to determine his earnings crediting formula. The S&P 500 index has 2 crediting strategies, and the other three indexes have one strategy each. The plan also offers a fixed-rate guaranteed interest strategy to choose from, making a total of 6 strategy options. We will discuss each available index briefly:

  1. S&P 500 Index: The S&P 500 index is one of the most popular and oldest indexes in the world. It tracks 500 large-cap publicly traded stocks listed in the United States. It is a reliable index and has often succeeded in the test of time. It is very important to note that, similar to most other annuities, the Delaware Life Target Income Fixed Indexed Annuity offers the S&P 500 index with cap rates or participation rates in place, meaning that your interest-earning capacity is capped. These rates tend to change frequently; I will discuss more on the rates shortly.
  2. Morgan Stanley Global Opportunities Index: The Morgan Stanley Global Opportunities index represents the performance of a portfolio that offers diversified access to global opportunities by tracking multiple asset classes of equities, fixed-income rates, and commodity futures. The index includes markets outside of the U.S. and commodities and uses a trend-following strategy. The Index tries to limit long-term realized volatility to 5% or less, dynamically adjusting the allocation between the underlying traded instruments and cash. While these volatility controls may result in less fluctuation in rates of return when compared with indexes that don’t use them, they also may reduce the overall rate of return compared with those other indexes. The company offers this index with a participation rate option. We will discuss more about rates in the next section of this article.
  3. First Trust Capital Strength Barclays 5& Index: The First Trust Capital Strength® Barclays 5% Index aims to provide stable growth with a diversified portfolio that provides exposure to U.S. equities and Treasurys and targets a 5% volatility. The index creates a diversified portfolio by combining U.S. stocks selected based on capital strength methodology with a portfolio of four Barclays U.S. Treasury futures indexes. Similar to the previous index, the Index tries to limit long-term realized volatility to 5% or less, dynamically adjusting the allocation between the underlying traded instruments and cash (which can reduce the overall rate of return compared with indexes without a volatility control mechanism). 
  4. RBA Select Equity Yield CIBC 5% Index: The RBA Select Equity Yield CIBC 5% Index seeks to enhance returns through a targeted set of reliable and sustainable dividend-paying equities. The index selects 100 of the top U.S. dividend-paying stocks through a methodology based on leading market research and fundamental analysis of financial factors. Index volatility is managed at 5% using custom volatility control strategies, which shift a percentage of assets into and out of cash as required. Leverage is also capped at 150%. Again, this also limits the return earning potential of the index compared to indexes without volatility control mechanisms.

Out of the indexes offered by this plan, I believe the wisest decision would be to choose an S&P 500-based indexing strategy for its transparency, proven returns, and global importance. All the other indexes have a volatility control mechanism in place, which limits the overall return earning capacity of the index. 

It is very important to note that like other Fixed Indexed Annuities, the Delaware Life Target Income Fixed Indexed Annuity comes with cap rates, participation rates, performance triggers, etc., for these indexes, meaning that you will be credited only a part of the index return to your annuity. These rates tend to change frequently; I will discuss more on these rates more shortly.

Note: In addition to allocating the funds in the following indexes, the annuitant also has the option to allocate funds at a fixed interest. These Fixed Rates tend to change from time to time. The Fixed Value Rate for the 10-year withdrawal charge period at the time of writing this article was 3.25%.

The earnings crediting formula

The earnings crediting formula is the most important part of this annuity discussion. It is important to know that we don’t simply get the index return credited to our annuity. There are a few rates, caps, spreads, and triggers that the company has in place that affect our earnings. These rates tend to change over time, and the updated rates can always be checked on the company’s website.

Let’s have a look at the Delaware Life Target Income 10 Fixed Index Annuity rate sheet (as of September 2023) to understand how the earnings are determined.

From the above rate chart, you will notice that there are 6 interest crediting options (1 fixed and 5 indexed). Let’s have a look at different terms that are used by the company in the Target Income 10 FIA chart rate:

  1. Cap Rates: It means at what rate your interest-earning capacity is capped. For example, if an index returned 12% but the contract’s cap rate is 6%. In this situation, the annuitant will be eligible for an interest credit of 6% only. It doesn’t matter how much the index goes above the cap rate; the maximum interest that can be earned is the cap rate.
  2. Participation Rate (PR): The participation rate describes the annuitant’s participation percentage in a return of an index. For example, suppose the participation rate is 150%, and the index returned 4% over the agreed time. In that case, the annuitant will be eligible for 150% of the return, i.e., 6%.
  3. Fixed Account Rate: If you opt for a fixed account rate, you simply earn the fixed rates for a particular period specified by the company before your policy begins. These rates usually tend to be low/at par as compared to other fixed avenues, such as CDs and MYGAs, so you should avoid fixed rates in a general scenario. The 1-year fixed rate on this policy at the time of writing this article was 3.20%.

Amongst these indexes, I would prefer the S&P 500 Index with a cap option or performance trigger option. I would avoid any S&P 500 strategy with a participation rate because the company offers a very low participation rate for the S&P 500 index. You can also go with the RBA Select Equity Yield CIBC 5% Index with a 115% participation rate if you want to take less risk.

Surrender/Early Withdrawal Charge

Should your needs change unexpectedly, and you need to take an excess withdrawal (a withdrawal that is above the free withdrawal amount available in a given contract year), you may be entitled to access additional monies, although certain charges and penalties may apply. Any amount withdrawn in excess of the remaining free withdrawal amount is subject to a Surrender Charge. Below is the Surrender Charge schedule for the Target Income 10 Fixed Indexed Annuity.

first-year premium of $100,000
first-year premium of $100,000

Market Value Adjustments - In case you need to surrender your policy, a Market Value Adjustment (MVA) will be applied to the portion of the withdrawal or surrender that exceeds the free withdrawal amount during the withdrawal charge period. The surrender charge schedule is different for the different tenures of annuities and also changes for some states.

The surrender charge of Delaware Life Target Income Fixed Indexed Annuity is in line with all the other annuity issuers. 

Contract/Administrative Charge

The Delaware Life Target Income 10 Fixed Indexed Annuity levies no annual contract or administrative fees. However, it comes with a compulsory paid rider, Guaranteed Lifetime Withdrawal Benefit (GLWB), that, at the time of writing this article, costs 1.05% of the benefit base, deducted from your account value. This is discussed in the next section.

Riders

The built-in rider is the most important discussion of this annuity. The Delaware Life Target Income Fixed Indexed Annuity comes with a compulsory paid GLWB (Guaranteed Lifetime Withdrawal Benefit) rider. The GLWB riders offer the annuitant to establish a benefit base with a 20% bonus on first-year premiums and a subsequent roll-up interest credit of 10% of their first-year premiums each year.

Rider Cost: An annual cost of 1.05% of the benefit base for both Single or Joint Life

An example of a benefit base with a first-year premium of $100,000 is shown below:

Lifetime Income Withdrawal Percentage was applicable (for single life): 2
Lifetime Income Withdrawal Percentage was applicable (for single life): 2

In this hypothetical scenario, the client invests $100,000 in the annuity, and they immediately receive a 20% ($20,000) premium bonus to their benefit base. The premium bonus is in addition to the 10% annual roll-up and helps accelerate the growth of their income benefit.

After the first contract anniversary, the client can turn on income at any time, and their benefit base is calculated as of that day—without waiting until a contract anniversary to see an increase in their income/benefit base. This feature adds more flexibility for an annuitant to turn on lifetime payments; most other annuities increase the benefit base only on the contract anniversary. Remember that the benefit base is only used to calculate the lifetime income payment; it is different from your account value, and unlike your account value, you cannot withdraw money from your benefit base.

Your lifetime income payment depends on your benefit base at the time you start lifetime income withdrawals. Thus, the later you start your lifetime income withdrawals, the more your lifetime income withdrawal amount.

To calculate the Lifetime Income payments, the following formula is used:

Benefit Base at the time of first withdrawal * GLWB Lifetime Payout Factor

The lifetime income withdrawal percentage is based on how late you begin your lifetime income withdrawals and whether you opt for single-life or joint withdrawals. At the time of writing this article, the following Lifetime Income Withdrawal Percentage was applicable (for single life): 

For calculating joint life withdrawals, subtract 0.65% from the Single Life withdrawal percentage to determine the Joint Life withdrawal percentage. Joint payouts are based on the Attained Age of the younger life.

Important: Do note that Lifetime Income Withdrawals may be reduced or may stop if you take Excess Withdrawals from your contract. If Excess Withdrawals, Withdrawal Charges, or Market Value Adjustments (MVAs) reduce the contract’s Accumulated Value to zero, your Lifetime Income Withdrawal Payments will stop, and the rider will terminate. If you do not make excess withdrawals, your Lifetime Income will continue for the rest of your life, even if your annuity’s accumulated value becomes zero.

Also, as with most annuities, the Delaware Life Target Income has free in-built nursing home and terminal illness waivers.

Nursing Home Waiver: After the first contract year, an annuitant can withdraw up to 100% of the contract’s accumulated value if he is confined to a Qualified nursing home for at least 90 consecutive days. No withdrawal charge or MVA apply if the owner qualifies for this benefit. Diagnosis must occur after the contract is issued, and written proof with supporting documentation is required from a qualified physician.

Terminal Illness Waiver: After the first contract year, an annuitant can withdraw up to 100% of the contract’s accumulated value if he is diagnosed with a terminal illness with a prognosis of 12 months or less. No withdrawal charge or MVA apply if the owner qualifies for this benefit. Diagnosis must occur after the contract is issued, and written proof with supporting documentation is required from a qualified physician.

What makes this product stand out?

The Delaware Life Income Target Fixed Indexed Annuity offers a few features that make a favorable case for this annuity. The ones that I like the most are

  1. The plan offers S&P Index with multiple crediting methodologies.
  2. The Target Income plan offers greater flexibility in terms of taking lifetime withdrawals from your account. Typically, in an annuity plan with a lifetime income rider, you have to wait until the contract anniversary to get your interest credited to your benefit base to receive a higher lifetime withdrawal amount. In this plan, your benefit base is credited with a pro-rata interest credit on the day you start taking lifetime income withdrawals.
  3. No annual contract, mortality & expense, or administrative fees
  4. Free  Confinement and Terminal Illness Waiver Benefit: This no-fee rider is automatically included for owners under age 65 and includes both a Qualified Nursing Care and Terminal Illness Benefit
  5. Multiple Payout Options: Lupsum or Annuitization option with Life Only, Life with Period Certain, Joint and Survivor Life, etc.

What I don’t like

This product is a decent product for people looking for growth and safety; still, there are some features that I believe could add more value for the annuitant. Some of the features that I don’t like about the policy are

  1. The built-in GLWB rider comes at an annual cost of 1.05% of the benefit base, which, in my opinion, is on the higher side.
  2. The plan offers lower cap and participation rates on its indexing strategies compared to other Delaware Life Fixed Indexed Annuities. If you are looking for a Delaware annuity that works best for growth and accumulation, check out our reviews for the Delaware Growth Pathway and Delaware Retirement Stages Select Fixed Indexed Annuities.
  3. Although the annuity offers good strategies on the S&P 500 Index, I don’t like the other three indexes that the company offers for the interest crediting strategy. The other three indexes that the company offers have a volatility control mechanism that limits the overall return of the index.

Company Details

You must always keep in mind that, unlike CDs, annuities are not guaranteed by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) or any other federal insurance agency. An annuity's "guarantee" is only as strong as the insurance company that issues the annuity, so it is always important to assess the issuing company before buying an annuity.

Delaware Life Insurance Company

Delaware Life Insurance Company was founded in 2013 and is a subsidiary of Group 1001 Insurance Holdings, LLC. Group 1001 is a dynamic network of several insurance businesses. It is a relatively newer player, but is rapidly growing and making its name in the market. In 2022, Delaware Life was top-rated in Barron’s 100 Annuities list. 

It is rated as follows by the rating agencies:

Although the ratings are not the best when we compare it with bigger players, we can still say they are good enough for you to consider buying an annuity.

Delaware Life Insurance Company has managed to maintain decent ratings for many years. It is considered to be strong and stable financially. As of June 2022, the company had assets of $41.8 billion and liabilities of $39.7 billion, with more than 320,000 active annuity and life insurance policies.

Going by the operating history, financial numbers, and ratings, we can safely gauge that you can trust your savings with Delaware Life Insurance Company.

Conclusion

With the advancement in healthcare and technology, the average American today is living longer than ever. So, it’s very important to have a stream of income that can grow safely and steadily and have the ability to provide a guaranteed income during the retirement years. This not only helps you mitigate the risk of outliving your income but also ensures that you continue to live a decent life even in your retirement.

The Delaware Life Target Income is a fixed-indexed annuity that helps you grow and accumulate your savings with much less risk. Through its GLWB rider, it provides the annuitant with greater flexibility and a safeguard against unforeseen circumstances by allowing them to turn on income payments at any time they wish without forgoing the pro-rata interest credit in the benefit base.

If you are considering buying a Fixed Indexed Annuity that is flexible, provides protection, and wants to take lifetime withdrawals that you will never outlive, the Delaware Life Target Income may be a decent product to look after. Although, you must keep in mind that this is not the best annuity for someone who is looking for growth and accumulation.

We understand that choosing the right annuity can be a complex decision, influenced by a myriad of factors such as market conditions, individual financial goals, and evolving life circumstances. To better serve you in this critical decision-making process, we regularly conduct in-depth reviews of various annuity products, examining features, costs, and potential benefits. To delve deeper into our extensive reviews, click here.

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