With variable annuities (VAs) falling out of favor with carriers and consumers alike due to their vulnerability to market volatility and their guaranteed living benefits which cause carriers to come up with ever-more exotic hedging strategies to insulate themselves from market declines, both parties seem to be looking at the once go-to retirement products with distaste.

MACRO Consulting Group, a financial planning firm specializing in retirement planning, has designed an Annuity Review which aims to assist fee-based financial advisors with a dearth of knowledge about insurance products and help individual investors uncover value in the currently out-of-fashion products.

VAs, by their nature, contain standard provisions offered during a past, one-time period that can vary when compared to products issued at a later date. Older, ‘vintage’ VAs have been found to have valuable aspects that can easily be overlooked by the untrained eye at the time of purchase. Some of these provisions include more generous than realized payouts, lower costs, superior fixed options, death benefits and lifetime guarantees that would not be included in new VAs.

Mark Coratzzo, senior partner and founder of MACRO, said in a statement, “Some insurance companies are actively looking to exit the VA business by closing products and offering cash payments to holders of existing contracts. By hiring an objective third-party consultant, individual investors and fee-based advisors can possibly uncover provisions in a pre-existing contract that may deserve a second look before one simply surrenders the contract.”

That “objective third-party consultant” will run an advisor or an individual $199 to examine three contracts and $49 for each additional contract. However, what is uncovered could provide a meaty return on that investment.