A death prior to the annuity start date would mean that no annuity benefit whatsoever will be paid.
Annuity amounts will be greater without a Return Of Premium (ROP) provision than with a ROP. Generally, most people feel the incremental annuity amount is not worth the risk of losing the ROP death benefit Also, carriers can offer contracts with provisions in between “with and without” a ROP. For example, a policy election might say that a ROP death benefit can only be paid before the QLAC annuity start date.
Follow this Link to complete a quote with and without Return of Premium -- "Cash Refund" benefit features.