Athene Life Insurance Review

Individual and group annuities that help protect your assets in retirement

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Athene Insurance

Athene Insurance

Our Take

Though Athene Annuity & Life Company used to sell life insurance policies, the company now only offers individual and group annuities. These annuities, which are offered in all 50 states, can be used to help protect your assets in retirement and ensure that you don’t outlive your savings.

  • Pros & Cons
  • Key Takeaways
  • Company Overview
Pros & Cons
Pros
  • Available in all 50 states and Washington, D.C.

  • Many different annuity contracts and riders to choose from

  • Accumulated growth can be locked in, protecting against market downturns

Cons
  • Life insurance no longer offered

  • Must be purchased through a financial professional

Key Takeaways
  • Athene sells fixed and lump-sum annuities in all 50 states, as well as Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico.
  • Plans start with a minimum deposit of $10,000 and include a variety of riders, some of which are included at no additional charge.
  • Issue ages range from 0 to 85, depending on the product chosen.
Company Overview

A newer company, Athene was founded in 2009 in the wake of the financial crisis at that time. Initially, Athene sold both life insurance policies and annuities, though the company stopped writing life insurance contracts just a few short years later, in 2013 though is still considered an insurance company. 

Today, Athene sells both individual and group annuities to consumers across the United States and U.S. territories. The company began trading on the New York Stock Exchange in 2016, raising $1.1 billion through its initial public offering and earning the title of third-largest IPO that year. Today, the company boasts more than $205 billion in assets.

Geographical Restrictions

Annuity contracts through Athene Annuity & Life Insurance Company are available in 49 states (all except New York) as well as the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. In New York, contracts are issued by Athene Annuity & Life Assurance Company of New York.

  • Year Founded 2009
  • Kinds of Plans Individual and group annuities
  • Number of Plans 11
  • Payment Plan Options Monthly, quarterly, semi-annually, annually, or lump sum
  • Customer Service By phone (1-888-ANNUITY/1-888-266-8489 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. CST, Monday through Friday)
  • Official Website www.athene.com

Athene is not one of our top-rated life insurance companies. You can review our list of the best life insurance companies for what we think are better options.

Pros Explained

  • Available in all 50 states and Washington, D.C.: Athene annuities are offered across the United States as well as the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico.
  • Many different annuity contracts and riders to choose from: Athene currently offers four different types of individual annuity contracts, which can include a variety of additional features and riders.
  • Accumulated growth can be locked in, protecting against market downturns: Certain Athene annuities allow for interest credits to be “locked in” on contract anniversary dates. This protects any accumulated value from being lost, even if the market goes down.

Cons Explained

  • Life insurance no longer offered: Though Athene used to offer a variety of life insurance products—including term life, whole life, and universal life—the company now exclusively sells individual and group annuity contracts. 
  • Must be purchased through a financial professional: There is no option for online quotes or contract purchasing; instead, you’ll need to work with a local financial professional in Athene’s network if you want to shop for or buy an annuity contract.

Available Plans

Athene offers a variety of annuity products, whether you’re buying as an individual or purchasing through the workplace.

Agility 10

The Athene Agility 10 annuity is offered to applicants between the ages of 40 and 80, with a minimum premium of $10,000 and a maximum annual withdrawal of 10% (of either initial premiums paid or accumulated value). Earnings on this annuity are indexed, and the plan includes an income and death benefit rider at no additional charge. If you pass away, your beneficiaries will have the option of choosing between your accumulated value or minimum contract guaranteed value (whichever is higher) or the policy’s rider death benefit.

Ascent Pro 10 Bonus

The Athene Ascent Pro 10 Bonus is a fixed annuity product with an issue age of 35 to 80. The minimum premium is $10,000 with an accumulation period of at least 20 years or until the lifetime income withdrawals begin. There is a premium bonus of 3% and the earliest you can elect lifetime income is age 50. Withdrawal charges are waived due to confinement or terminal illness, and the plan can grow in one of two ways: level and inflation-adjusted or earnings-indexed.

MaxRate

There are three Athene MaxRate annuities to choose from: the MaxRate 3, which is available to issues ages 0 to 85, and the MaxRate 5 or MaxRate 7, both available to issue ages 0 to 83. All three provide guaranteed asset growth, with either a 3-, 5-, or 7-year fixed strategy rate on the initial premium (depending on which plan you choose) and a 1-year fixed strategy rate on additional premiums and the end of contract term. Withdrawal charges are waived due to confinement and/or terminal illness, and the policy’s included death benefit provides your beneficiaries with the greater of either the accumulated value or the minimum guaranteed contract value. (In New York, beneficiaries will receive the full accumulated value.)

Performance Elite

There are six different Performance Elite annuity options through Athene: Elite 7, Elite 7 Plus, Elite 10, Elite 10 Plus, Elite 15, and Elite 15 Plus. Issues ages for the Elite 7 series are 0 through 83, Elite 10 series are 0 to 78, and Elite 15 series are 0 to 73. Premium bonuses range from 0% to 15%, depending on the plan you choose, with free withdrawals beginning as early as year one. The minimum premium is $10,000 for all plans, and they include a return of premium rider (for a fee of 0.95% accumulated value). Withdrawal fees, if applicable, can be waived due to terminal illness or confinement. If you pass away, this series does include a death benefit; your beneficiaries will receive the greater of either your accumulated value, your plan’s minimum guaranteed contract value, or the return of premium benefit (if purchased).

Single Premium Immediate Annuities (SPIA)

Requiring a lump-sum, single premium payment up front, the Athene SPIA plan helps financially protect your future retirement from day one. Issue ages are 0 to 85 for Annuity Certain, 5 to 80 for Life and Installment Refund Life, and 5 to 85 for all other options. The minimum premium is $10,000, and plans offer either single or joint life benefits, which can begin immediately. Guaranteed annuity periods are 5, 10, 15, or 20 years. 

What You Need to Know

Annuities can be fixed or variable in nature and can be owned by a single person or owned jointly with a spouse. Jointly owned annuities are also considered survivorship products and will continue paying out as long as one spouse is still alive.

Available Riders

Depending on the annuity you choose, there are a few different rider options available, some of which are included at no extra charge.

Death Benefit Rider

The death benefit rider provides you with a benefit base value that grows over time, which is not impacted by your future withdrawals. The guaranteed death benefit, if you were to pass away, can be paid out to your beneficiaries as either a lump sum or as a multiple-year installment payout.

Return of Premium Benefit

With the return of premium rider, you can recoup your initial purchase premium (minus any prior withdrawals) if you need to surrender your annuity in the future. The Athene return of premium benefit is available after the fourth contract year.

Accumulator Legacy Rider

This optional rider, which can be added to some plans for an additional fee, offers up to 8% simple interest growth on the plan for up to 10 years. It also provides beneficiaries with two different payout options if you pass away.

Income Rider

The income rider—included at no charge on certain annuities—gives annuitants the peace of mind of guaranteed growth. This rider ensures that the annuity’s value increases each year by a minimum percentage, which may vary based on the contract year and type of plan purchased.

Terminal Illness Waiver

If diagnosed with a terminal illness and given a year or less to live, the terminal illness waiver allows annuitants to withdraw up to 100% of the annuity’s accumulated value without penalty or fee. This waiver only applies after the first contract anniversary has passed.

Fee-based riders come at a cost that is usually calculated as a percentage of the annuity’s accumulated value. The more your annuity grows, the more those riders will cost you year over year.

Customer Service

Athene customer service can be reached by phone at 1-888-ANNUITY (1-888-266-8489) from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. CST, Monday through Friday. If you are interested in purchasing a product or need to make changes to an existing contract, you can also reach out to your local sales professional. 

Complaint Index

Each year, the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) issues carriers a complaint index. This index is a score demonstrating how many consumer complaints the company received compared to the average expected number for the company’s size and market share. This index can be used to track a carrier’s consumer trends and performance over the years.

The complaint index is adjusted for each company, with the average being 1.0. A complaint index above 1.0 means that the company received more complaints than expected for its size; a score below 1.0 means fewer complaints than expected were received.

In 2020, Athene Annuity & Life Company received an overall NAIC complaint index of 0.36, well below the 1.0 average. In 2019, Athene scored a 0.53, and in 2018, a 0.80. This shows that the company consistently performs better than expected.

Third-Party Ratings

When it comes to properly gauging the reliability and service of a carrier, third-party ratings can be very valuable. One of the most trusted ratings comes from AM Best, which assigns a financial strength rating between A++ and D to many consumer-facing companies.

This financial strength rating gives consumers a good idea of the company’s overall stability and projected strength. A high rating means a high probability that the company will remain solvent and able to pay out on its contracts as agreed. Currently, Athene holds an A (Excellent) rating from AM Best, which is the third-highest possible score.

Another trusted third-party rating comes from J.D. Power, a trusted name in customer satisfaction studies. In the 2020 U.S. Life Insurance Study, Athene ranked fourteenth among annuities carriers, according to factors such as customer satisfaction, products, pricing, and availability.

Cancellation Policy

Cancelling or surrendering an annuity is possible, but can be costly. Depending on the type of annuity you have, the riders you’ve chosen, and how long you’ve held the plan, there can be notable penalties and withdrawal fees. For example, you may be subject to a 10% early withdrawal fee if you cancel and take money out of your annuity before age 59½. 

You may also be subject to surrender fees for cancelling your contract ahead of schedule.

Price

Annuities work a bit differently than life insurance policies, in that the vast majority of them do not require underwriting. This means that for the most part, annuities are guaranteed issue and can be purchased by anyone who qualifies by being able to pay the initial premium.

The price of the annuity from that point on will depend on how much protection you want that product to provide you in retirement, and for how long. While some annuities allow for a single lump-sum payment, others expect you to also continue making regular contributions. The more you contribute to your annuity plan—and the greater the annuity’s growth—the more income it will provide you in retirement, and for a longer period of time.

Competition

So, how does Athene measure up to some of the best annuity providers? We’ve compared them to Fidelity, a top-rated annuity company, to help you better decide.

Both Fidelity and Athene offer a variety of plans to choose from, though Athene’s 11 annuities provide more options than Fidelity’s six. However, Fidelity has a higher financial strength rating and excellent customer satisfaction reviews. Athene is also a newer company, founded in just 2009, while Fidelity has a history that stretches back to 1946. Fidelity also offers a deferred annuity product with a minimum investment of just $5,000, but Athene’s lowest option is $10,000.

  Athene Fidelity 
Market Share  3.71% of U.S. market share (annuities) 0.66% of U.S. market share (life insurance)
Number of Plans 11 (annuities) 6 (life insurance)
Dividends for 2020  Not applicable  Not applicable 
Service Method  Financial professionals  Advisors or by phone
AM Best Rating  A+ 
Minimum Investment  $10,000  $5,000 
Complaint Index  0.36 Excellent 0.04 Exceptional 
Final Verdict

Athene is a relatively new company, founded in just 2009, which used to offer life insurance and annuities but now only sells the latter. There are 11 different annuities to choose from through Athene with a minimum deposit of just $10,000, providing consumers with a variety of affordable retirement income plans and features.

Methodology: How We Review Life Insurance Carriers

In order to provide readers with trusted and informative reviews, we employ a comprehensive methodology that involves looking at each carrier’s products, availability, pricing, included features, and limitations, and how those compare to similar carriers within the same industry. We also analyze each carrier’s third-party and consumer reviews, looking at their reliability, reputation, and seeking out certain trends that might exist.

Article Sources

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  1. NAIC. "Athene Ann & Life Co National Complaint Index Report." Accessed May 25, 2021.

  2. J.D. Power. "2020 U.S. Life Insurance Study." Accessed May 24, 2021.

  3. IRS. "Publication 575 (2020), Pension and Annuity Income." Accessed June 21, 2021.