What Is a "Free Look" Period?

"Free Look" Period Explained

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The "free look" period gives purchasers of annuities a set time period to walk away from the transaction penalty-free, with no reason required. Each state sets the period.

What Is a "Free Look" Period?

You can have a "free look" with your annuity from 10 to 30 days after delivery depending on the state. Some states require a longer free look period for seniors.

Annuity sales aren't regulated. The free look provision is one way prospective annuity customers can protect themselves. It is always best to be proactively educated about annuity purchases, but sometimes the sales pitch gets in the way. 

How the "Free Look" Period Works

The free look period starts when the annuity policy is delivered to you. Some carriers require you to sign an actual delivery receipt, but remember the clock starts as soon as you get the actual policy. Days counted are calendar days — not business days — so Saturday and Sunday are included.

When the policy is delivered, it is always a good time to give the carrier a call just to verify how the annuity works and to confirm any promises made during the sales process. Don’t call the sales agent; call the annuity company directly. The company’s toll free number will be on the policy, so if you find out the guarantees don’t match the sales pitch, then you can enact the free look policy right on that call.

You don't need to state a reason to request a "free look" refund for your annuity policy.

The best part about the free look provision is that you do not have to explain why you want a full refund. You never have to speak with the selling agent. There might be a form to sign (depending on the carrier), but the customer service people at the carrier may not try to talk you out of it. As long as you follow the time-frame rules, you will get your money back.

The National Conference of Insurance Guaranty Funds (NCIGF) provides links to each state's insurance guaranty association and can also provide a detailed contact list.

The annuity-free look provision is the consumer’s friend and can bring you peace of mind. It is possible to be up-sold into an annuity you really don't need. Think of the provision as your "get out of an annuity-free" card. It gives you time to continue to shop around or have a lawyer or financial adviser review your contract.

The "free look" also applies to life insurance policies and follows the same state guidelines outlined in the following table.

State Requirements for Free Look Periods
States Free Look Period Requirements
Alabama 15 days when the buyer’s guide and disclosure document are not provided at or before the time of application 30 days for replacement contracts
Alaska 10 days for new policies
Arizona 10 days 30 days if purchaser is 65 years old or older
Arkansas 10 days when the buyer’s guide and disclosure document are not provided at or before the time of application
California 10 days 30 days for seniors
Colorado 15 days when the buyer’s guide and disclosure document are not provided at or before the time of application
Connecticut  10 days
Delaware 10 days for new policies 20 days for replacement policies
Florida 21 days
Georgia 10 days
Hawaii  10 days 15 days when the buyer’s guide and disclosure document are not provided at or before the time of application
Idaho 20 days
Illinois 10 days 
Indiana 10 days
Iowa  10 days 15 days when the buyer’s guide and disclosure document are not provided at or before the time of application
Kansas 10 days
Kentucky 10 days 15 days when the buyer’s guide and disclosure document are not provided at or before the time of application 30 days for a replacement contract
Louisiana 10 days
Maine 15 days when the buyer’s guide and disclosure document are not provided at or before the time of application
Maryland 10 days
Massachusetts 10 days
Michigan At least 10 days
Minnesota 10 days for new policy
Mississippi No legal requirement
Missouri 10 days
Montana 15 days when the buyer’s guide and disclosure document are not provided at or before the time of application
Nebraska 10 days
Nevada 10 days for new policies 30 days for replacement policies
New Hampshire 10 days
New Jersey 10 days
New Mexico No legal requirement, but some policies may say 10 days
New York 10 days to 30 days
North Carolina 10 days for new policies 20 days for replacement policies
North Dakota 20 days
Ohio  15 days if no buyer's guide or disclosure document given at the time of application
Oklahoma 10 days
Oregon 10 days
Pennsylvania 10 days for new contracts 20 days for replacement contracts
Rhode Island 20 days
South Carolina 10 days for new policy 20 days for replacement contract 31 days if solicited by direct response rather than agent
South Dakota 10 days
Tennessee 10 days
Texas  20 days for new contracts 30 days for replacement contracts
Utah 10 days for new policy 30 days for replacement policy
Vermont  No legal requirement
Virginia 10 days
Washington 10 days (insurance company has 30 days to send refund)
West Virginia 10 days
Wisconsin 30 days for replacement contract
No legal requirement for new contract
Wyoming  20 days for replacement contract
No legal requirement for new contract

Key Takeaways

  • The "free look" provision gives annuity buyers a chance to back out with no penalty.
  • It generally extends from 10 to 30 days, depending on the state you're in.
  • No reason is required to get your money back.
  • The provision is a counterbalance to sometimes aggressive annuity sales tactics.