MVA Meaning: What Is A Market Value Adjustment Annuity?

Shawn Plummer, CRPC

Chartered Retirement Planning Counselor

What is a Market Value Adjustment (MVA)?

A withdrawal above the maximum penalty-free amount will be subject to market value adjustment (MVA) for the period the surrender charges apply. An MVA is an amount by which a full or partial withdrawal is adjusted, resulting in a positive or negative impact on the withdrawal. The adjustment will apply to any withdrawal subject to a surrender charge and will be applied on the withdrawal date before applying the surrender charge. MVAs will not apply to a penalty-free withdrawal amount.

Key Takeaways

  • An MVA is a financial calculation that can either increase or decrease the value of withdrawals or the surrender value of an annuity based on the movement of a specific MVA Index.
  • MVAs apply to withdrawals exceeding the penalty-free withdrawal amount and full surrenders during the Surrender Charge Period. However, they do not affect penalty-free withdrawals, death benefits, the minimum guaranteed surrender value, or any amount withdrawn after the Guarantee Period ends.
  • The MVA and any applicable surrender charges will not cause the surrender value to exceed the contract value or drop below the minimum guaranteed surrender value.

How does A Market Value Adjustment (MVA) Work?

Depending on the direction interest rates move, the market value adjustment may increase or decrease benefits payable under the contract. However, in no event will the MVA reduce the cash surrender value below the guaranteed minimum. An adjustment will not apply to:

A Market Value Adjustment can be attached to a traditional fixed, fixed index annuity, or multi-year guaranteed annuity (MYGA) with a built-in interest rate adjustment factor that can cause the actual crediting rates to increase or decrease in response to economic market conditions.

Most contracts have a fair value adjustment built-in as a standard feature, especially a fixed indexed annuity.

The MVA allows the life insurance company to give you higher caps and growth rates to protect against market losses.

The market value adjustment only applies when you withdraw any amount in addition to the annual penalty-free withdrawal amount or if you surrender the annuity contract before the contract terms.

  • Example #1:  You have an annual 10% penalty-free withdrawal provision of your annuity, but you pocket 15% of your annuity in a given year. The MVA will apply from 11% to 15% of that withdrawal.
  • Example #2:  You are in a 10-year annuity contract. You decide in year seven to cancel the contract and move your money. The market value adjustment will apply to that cash surrender value.

If the interest rates are higher at the time of withdrawal than when the contract was purchased, a negative MVA will apply.

If interest rates are lower at the time of withdrawal than when the contract was purchased, a positive MVA will apply.

Related Reading: Best fixed annuity rates

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Why is there a Market Value Adjustment (MVA) in the first place?

The market value adjustment is how the insurance company protects itself from significant losses when a policy owner terminates their contract before the agreed term, specifically in varying market conditions.

The adjustment allows the life insurance company to pass down some of the risks of loss to the annuity owner due to an early surrender of the contract. In addition, the MVA alleviates expenses and allows them to offer a higher interest credit rate back to the client.


Who does the Market Value Adjustment Apply To?

An annuity contract owner wants to liquidate more cash value than they can in any given year. A contract owner wants to surrender their deferred annuity policy before the contract expiration date.

What are alternatives to an MVA?

  • Consumers can find annuities with no MVA. In addition, some states won’t allow for an MVA.
  • An annuity with extra liquidity like a Return of Premium or Accumulating Penalty-Free Withdrawals feature.
  • Shorter-term annuity.

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Market Value Adjusted Annuity Vs. Certificate Annuity

A market value-adjusted annuity and a certificate annuity can seem similar but bear fundamental differences. For example, both offer a fixed rate of return for a specified period. However, a market value-adjusted annuity has an MVA feature, which a certificate annuity does not.

The MVA feature makes market value-adjusted annuities more responsive to changes in market interest rates, thus potentially offering higher returns (or greater risk) than certificate annuities.

The Protective Mechanism of the MVA

The MVA serves to protect insurance companies from the risk of rate fluctuation. For example, when interest rates rise, more policyholders might want to surrender their annuities to invest in higher-yielding options. The MVA market value adjustment protects the insurance company by reducing the surrender value, thus discouraging early surrender.

However, it’s crucial to note that the market value adjustment is usually not used in the event of the annuitant’s death. In such instances, the beneficiaries typically receive the total account value or the guaranteed death benefit, whichever is higher, without any MVA.

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The Creation of the Market Value Adjustment

The MVA mechanism was developed to adjust yields when interest rates rapidly changed. The exact origin of MVA is unclear, but it’s generally attributed to the efforts of economists and financial experts seeking ways to protect insurance companies from interest rate risks during the 1980s, a period characterized by volatile interest rates.

Next Steps

If you consider withdrawing more than penalty-free, understand how an MVA could impact your decision. You can request a quote from us for specific information about how an MVA would affect your situation. We hope this guide has helped explain surrender charges and MVAs. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact us.

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Frequently Asked Questions

What does MVA stand for?

MVA stands for market value adjustment.

What is an MVA?

If you withdraw more money than the penalty-free amount, the extra amount will be subject to a market value adjustment. This means that the withdrawal will be adjusted up or down, depending on how it affects the account. The adjustment will only apply to a withdrawal subject to a surrender charge and will be applied on the day of the withdrawal before applying the surrender charge. Penalty-free withdrawals will not be affected by this adjustment.

What is the effect of the market value adjustment in a market value adjustment annuity?

A market value adjustment (MVA) in a market value adjustment annuity can have various effects. The MVA is designed to protect the insurance company from interest rate fluctuations. When interest rates rise, the MVA reduces the annuity’s market value, potentially decreasing the amount received by the policyholder upon surrender or withdrawal. Conversely, when interest rates fall, the MVA may increase the annuity’s market value, resulting in a higher surrender or withdrawal value for the policyholder. Ultimately, the effect of the MVA depends on the prevailing interest rate environment.

What happens to the cash value of a market value-adjusted annuity?

The cash value of a market value-adjusted annuity (MVA) can change based on market conditions. If interest rates rise, the cash value may decrease, but if rates fall, it may increase. This adjustment feature allows the annuity to align with prevailing market rates, ensuring potential growth or protection against market fluctuations.

Shawn Plummer, CRPC

Chartered Retirement Planning Counselor

Shawn Plummer is a Chartered Retirement Planning Counselor, insurance agent, and annuity broker with over 14 years of first-hand experience with annuities and insurance. Since beginning his journey in 2009, he has been pivotal in selling and educating about annuities and insurance products. Still, he has also played an instrumental role in training financial advisors for a prestigious Fortune Global 500 insurance company, Allianz. His insights and expertise have made him a sought-after voice in the industry, leading to features in renowned publications such as Time Magazine, Bloomberg, Entrepreneur, Yahoo! Finance, MSN, SmartAsset, The Simple Dollar, U.S. News and World Report, Women’s Health Magazine, and many more. Shawn’s driving ambition? To simplify retirement planning, he ensures his clients understand their choices and secure the best insurance coverage at unbeatable rates.

The Annuity Expert is an independent online insurance agency servicing consumers across the United States. The goal is to help you take the guesswork out of retirement planning and find the best insurance coverage at the cheapest rates

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