How To Switch Annuities

When your annuity isn’t performing as expected, or you are ready for different investment options, transferring an existing annuity may be right for you. You’ll need to know the tax implications and terms of your existing annuity to make the transfer smoothly.

How To Switch Annuities?

Are you disappointed in the performance of your annuity? Keep reading to see whether transferring your annuity is the right option for you!

If you’re curious about how annuities work and whether they’re right for you, start by reading our comprehensive guide on How Do Annuities Work? Check it out after this article!

Switching Annuities The Right Way

It is possible to transfer an existing annuity into a new annuity. This is known as a 1035 exchange, named after the section of the U.S. tax code that allows for tax-free transfers between certain types of annuity contracts.

A 1035 exchange allows you to move the cash value from an existing annuity into a new annuity without incurring taxes on the gains you’ve made in the original annuity.

Note: A 1035 exchange may have surrender charges and fees associated with it, so it’s important to carefully review the terms and conditions of both the original annuity and the new annuity before making a decision.

To initiate a 1035 exchange, you’ll need to contact the insurance company offering the new annuity and provide them with the necessary information to initiate the transfer process. This may include the name of the current annuity provider, the policy number, and the amount you wish to transfer.

It’s also a good idea to consult with a financial advisor or tax professional before making a decision to transfer your annuity. They can help you evaluate whether a 1035 exchange is the right choice for your financial situation and can advise you on any potential tax implications or fees that may apply.

Later in this article we go into the potential penalties for doing an annuity switch or transfer.

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Reasons For Transferring Annuities

Transferring annuities can be a good option for individuals looking to change their current financial strategy. There are several factors to consider when deciding whether to transfer an annuity, including penalties and tax implications. 

Here Are A Few Reasons Why You May Want To Switch Annuities:

  1. When You Want To Access Different Investment Options: If you are not satisfied with the investment options offered by your current annuity, switching to another annuity may allow you to access a wider range of investment options.
  1. When You’re Not Happy With The Performance Of Your Annuity: If your annuity is not performing as well as you expected, switching to a different annuity may help improve your investment returns.
  1. When You Want To Change The Type Of Annuity You Have: If you have a deferred annuity and want to switch to an immediate annuity or vice versa, switching may be a good idea.
  1. When You Want To Move Your Funds To A Different Insurance Company: If you are unsatisfied with the customer service, fees, or other factors associated with your current insurance company, switching to a different company may be a good idea.

Important Considerations For Transferring Annuities

Will there be penalties for transferring? The answer to this question will depend on the type of annuity you have and the specific terms of your contract. Some annuities, such as deferred annuities, can be transferred without penalty as long as the transfer takes place within a certain time frame. 

Other annuities, such as immediate annuities, cannot be transferred without incurring a penalty. It’s important to consult with a financial advisor to determine if a transfer is right for you and to understand the potential consequences of a transfer, including any penalties that may apply.

When considering a switch, here are factors you should consider:

  1. Surrender Charges: If you are early in the surrender period of your annuity, there may be penalties associated with switching. Be sure to review the terms and conditions of your annuity contract to understand any surrender charges.
  1. Tax Implications: Transferring an annuity may have tax implications, so it’s important to understand the tax implications before making a switch.
  1. Investment Options: Be sure to understand the investment options offered by the new annuity and compare them to your current options.
  1. Fees: Compare the fees associated with the new annuity to those associated with your current annuity to ensure you understand the impact on your overall returns.

When It’s Not Wise To Transfer

There are also situations when transferring an annuity may not be a good idea, including:

  1. If You Are Close To Retirement: If you are close to retirement and you have built up significant gains in your annuity, switching to a new annuity may result in significant losses due to surrender charges or market fluctuations.
  1. If You Have A Guaranteed Rate Of Return: If your current annuity has a guaranteed rate of return, switching to a new annuity may result in a lower guaranteed rate of return.
  1. If You Have A Low-Risk Tolerance: If you have a low-risk tolerance, switching to a new annuity may result in more exposure to market risk, which may not be suitable for your investment goals.
  1. If You Have A Complicated Annuity Contract: If you have a complicated annuity contract, switching to a new annuity may result in a loss of benefits or a decline in your overall returns.

Exchanging Annuities To Avoid Tax Penalties

When transferring an annuity, it’s important to consider the potential tax implications. Annuities are taxed differently than other investments, and a transfer may trigger tax consequences. Annuities can be classified into two categories: qualified and non-qualified annuities.

The Pros and Cons of Annuities Infographic (Tax-deferred growth, guaranteed income, diversification, fees, restrictions, inflation risk).

Comparing Qualified Vs. Non-Qualified Annuities

Qualified and non-qualified annuities are two types of annuities that differ in terms of their tax treatment and the source of funding.

A qualified annuity is funded with pre-tax dollars and is generally used as a retirement savings vehicle. For example, contributions to a 401(k) plan or an individual retirement account (IRA) are considered qualified funds. The growth of the investment within the annuity is tax-deferred, meaning taxes are not paid on the gains until the funds are withdrawn.

On the other hand, a non-qualified annuity is funded with after-tax dollars, meaning taxes have already been paid on the funds used to purchase the annuity. 

Non-qualified annuities are often used to generate income in retirement or to save for a specific goal such as a child’s education. The growth within the annuity is taxed as ordinary income when the funds are withdrawn.

It’s important to understand the difference between these two types of annuities because the tax implications of transferring or exchanging them can be different. 

Qualified Annuity Transfer

When transferring a qualified annuity, the process is generally straightforward and can be done without incurring any penalties. Check with your current annuity provider to see if there are any restrictions or fees associated with the transfer. You may be subject to penalties and taxes if the transfer is not done properly. 

Non-Qualified Annuity Transfer

In the case of non-qualified annuities, the tax implications of a transfer will depend on various factors such as the type of annuity, the terms of the contract, and the age and income of the annuity holder. 

In some cases, exchanging a non-qualified annuity may result in a taxable event and trigger additional fees or penalties. It’s important to weigh the potential benefits and drawbacks of transferring an annuity before making a decision. 

Consulting with a financial advisor can help ensure that the exchange is done in a tax-efficient manner and that your financial goals are met.

Transferring Your Annuity To An Heir

Another factor to consider when transferring an annuity is whether you want to transfer the annuity to an heir. Some annuities allow you to name a beneficiary, who will receive the remaining balance of the annuity after your death. 

The tax treatment of transferring an annuity to an heir in the US can depend on several factors, including the type of annuity, the age of the annuitant, the age of the heir, and the terms of the transfer. Here are a few key points to consider:

Inherited Annuities Are Generally Taxable: When an heir inherits an annuity, they will typically be required to pay taxes on the distributions they receive. The tax treatment will depend on whether the annuity was funded with pre-tax or after-tax dollars, and whether the annuitant has already begun receiving payments.

Inherited Annuities May Be Subject To Penalties: If the annuity was funded with pre-tax dollars and the heir is under age 59 1/2, they may be subject to a 10% early withdrawal penalty on any distributions they receive.

Spousal Transfers Are Usually Tax-free: If the annuity is transferred to a surviving spouse, the transfer is typically tax-free, and the surviving spouse can continue to receive the same distributions as the original annuitant.

Non-Spousal Transfers May Trigger Taxes: If the annuity is transferred to a non-spouse, the transfer may trigger taxes for the heir, depending on the terms of the transfer and the type of annuity.


In conclusion, switching annuities is a decision that should not be taken lightly, as it can have financial and tax implications. It is important to fully understand your current annuity contract and the terms and conditions of any potential new annuity before making a change.

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