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Life Health > Annuities

5 California Annuity Bills to Watch

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Republicans now control the government of the United States, a country with about $19 trillion in gross domestic product.

Democrats control the government of California, a state that has about $2.7 trillion in gross state product, according to U.S. Census figures.

Just as Republicans are in charge of the White House, the House and the Senate in Washington, Democrats are in charge of the governor’s mansion, the Assembly and the Senate in Sacramento.

The legislation bubbling up in Sacramento is like a political mirror image of the bills flowing through Congress. The legislation tracking system there can give agents, brokers and financial advisors a taste of what might come up in Washington if Democrats were ever to regain control of the White House, and the House.

Here’s a look at five live bills there that relate to the annuity industry:

1. A.B. 502: Crime victim compensation

Introduced by Assembly Member Marie Waldron, R-Escondido

This bill relates directly to crime victim compensation and to elder or dependent adult financial abuse. It mentions annuities directly only once: in a description of why the bill is necessary.

The population of elderly and dependent adults “often falls victims to scams, including foreign lotteries, the sale of costly and ineffective annuities, identity theft, reverse mortgage scams and fraudulent home repairs,” according to the bill text.

The bill would appropriate money to create a pilot program in San Diego County. The program would provide up to $1 million in compensation for older adults or dependent adults affected by financial abuse, with a maximum compensation amount of $3,000 per victim. Officials would review the pilot program and decide what to do with it in 2021.

Analysts have reviewed the bill for the Assembly Aging and Long-Term Care Committee and the Assembly Public Safety Committee.

The analyst for the aging committee writes that there is no known opposition to the bill.

2. A.B. 938: Reinsurance

Introduced by Assembly Member Ken Cooley, D-Rancho Cordova.

This bill deals with the rules insurers use when seeking credit on their financial statements for annuities or insurance policies backed by reinsurers. An insurer that wanted to get credit for reinsurance would have to pass the risk to an accredited reinsurer. The bill would let the state impose many requirements on reinsurers, such as requiring that a reinsurer have policyholders’ surplus of at least $20 million to be accredited, and that a reinsurer that’s part of an insurer group belong to a group with at least $10 billion in policyholders’ surplus. State legislative analysts have not yet posted an analysis of the bill.

Ben Franklin, Thinkstock

3. A.B. 1373: Annuity buyer’s guide

Introduced by Assembly Member Tom Daly, D-Anaheim

This bill would require annuity producers to give each annuity applicant a copy of a deferred annuities buyer’s guide approved by the National Association of Insurance Commissioners. The bill would also require agents to get training on NAIC buyer’s guides. An analyst for the Assembly Insurance Committee says the Association of California Life and Health Insurance Companies sponsored the bill. The analyst listed no known opposition.

4. A.B. 1398: Annuity surrender benefits

Introduced by: Assembly Member Ash Kalra

This bill could affect consumers who buy annuities and decide to collect the cash surrender benefits, rather than keeping the annuities. The bill could require an insurer to provide the cash surrender benefits “as expeditiously as possible after the request for surrender is received, … but no later than 45 days from the date of surrender,” according to the bill text. Legislative analysts have not yet posted an analysis of the bill.

5. S.B. 567: Charitable remainder annuity trusts

Introduced by: Sen. Ricardo Lara, D-Long Beach

This provision would limit the ability of high-income people to use charitable remainder annuity trusts to reduce their state income taxes, and it would increase the minimum starting value of the charitable remainder interest.

A charitable remainder annuity trust is an arrangement a donor can use to put a large amount of cash in a trust and collect a steady stream of income. When the donor dies, the assets left in the trust are supposed to go to a charity.

S.B. 567 would require the donor to start with a charitable remainder interest equal to at least 40% of the value of the assets in the trust, up from 10% today.

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