The Equitrust Builder Bonus annuity is a unique product that is worth consideration for the right people. Here I will review the product and talk about the strengths and weaknesses of it.
For starters, the product is approved in some of the more strict annuity states such as New Jersey and Connecticut. It is also one of only two products that has a return of premium feature. Return of premium (ROP) means that you can have your initial investment back without penalty at any time regardless of when it is requested. This is useful if someone needs to take the investment back for other priorities and they are still within the surrender period of the plan.
Security Benefit also has a 6% bonus which is the only ROP on the market with a bonus. They use a variety of crediting methods such as an annual point to point, monthly sum and fixed rate strategy to determine annual gains in the account value. An income rider can be added as well at a .50% annual fee. There is a 9 year surrender charge on this product unless the ROP is used. The company does not recapture the bonus however which is unusual.
My only critiques of this annuity is that the income rider is not competitive with the highest paying income riders. It is in the middle of the pack compared to its piers. The investment accounts are also your standard issue investments accounts which look very conservative compared to other products such as the Total Value Annuity (Security Benefit) or even the National Western Global Lookback Annuity. To be fair, they are the only company with ROP and a bonus so they probably do not feel compelled to have a top of the line income rider.
Overall this is a flexible annuity that has the rare combination of an ROP benefit, Bonus (that is not recaptured) and approvals in tough annuity states.