Top FAQs About Annuities

Annuities have gained significant popularity as reliable retirement planning tools, providing financial security and peace of mind for individuals seeking a stable income stream during their golden years. However, despite their prominence, many people still have numerous questions and misconceptions surrounding annuities. In this blog, we will explore the most frequently asked questions (FAQ) about annuities to help you make informed decisions regarding your financial future.

What is an Annuity?

An annuity is a financial product offered by insurance companies that provides a regular income stream to an individual, typically during retirement. It operates as a contract between the annuity holder (the investor) and the insurance company. The investor pays either a lump sum or regular contributions to the annuity, and in return, the insurance company guarantees a series of payments to the investor at a later date.

What Types of Annuities Are There?

There are several types of annuities, each designed to cater to different financial goals and risk tolerances:

• Fixed Annuities: These annuities offer a guaranteed fixed interest rate for a specific period. They provide a stable income stream and are less susceptible to market fluctuations.

• Variable Annuities: Variable annuities allow investors to allocate their contributions among various investment options, typically mutual funds. The income from these annuities fluctuates based on the performance of the underlying investments.

• Indexed Annuities: Indexed annuities combine features of both fixed and variable annuities. The returns are tied to the performance of an underlying market index, offering potential growth while protecting against market downturns.

• Immediate Annuities: With immediate annuities, the investor begins receiving regular payments immediately after making a lump-sum payment to the insurance company.

• Deferred Annuities: Deferred annuities involve a waiting period before payouts begin. The accumulation phase allows the investment to grow tax-deferred until the investor decides to start receiving payments.

What are the Benefits of Annuities?

• Tax Advantages: Annuities offer tax-deferred growth, meaning the investment earnings are not taxed until withdrawals are made, allowing your money to compound faster.

• Steady Income: Annuities provide a predictable income stream, making them an attractive option for retirees who seek financial stability.

• Guaranteed Income for Life: Some annuities offer the option of lifetime income, ensuring you won’t outlive your savings.

• Death Benefit: In case of the annuity holder’s death, annuities can provide a death benefit to the beneficiaries, ensuring the passing on of assets.

• Diversification: Variable and indexed annuities allow investors to diversify their portfolios, potentially increasing their overall returns.

What Are the Risks Associated with Annuities?

• Market Risk: Variable annuities are subject to market fluctuations, and the returns are not guaranteed.

• Surrender Charges: Annuities often come with surrender charges, which are fees imposed if you withdraw more money than you’re allotted or terminate the contract before a certain period.

• Fees and Expenses: Variable annuities can have fees, including administrative fees, investment management fees, and mortality and expense risk charges in exchange for benefits, such as guaranteed income for life or higher earnings potential.

• Inflation Risk: Some fixed annuities may not keep up with inflation, potentially reducing the purchasing power of your income over time. However, many annuities offer inflation-protected income payments that increase when interest is credited. 

Who Should Consider Annuities?

Annuities can be suitable for individuals with specific financial goals, including:

• Retirees or Pre-Retirees: Seeking a reliable income source during retirement.

• Conservative Investors: Looking for stable, low-risk investment options.

• Those Maximizing Retirement Contributions: After fully funding other retirement accounts, annuities can offer additional tax-advantaged growth.

• Estate Planning: Individuals concerned about passing on wealth to beneficiaries in a tax-efficient manner.

Can I Access My Money Before the Annuity Matures?

Yes, but it may come with certain consequences. Annuities typically have surrender periods, during which early withdrawals may incur surrender charges. Additionally, if you withdraw before age 59½, you may be subject to a 10% early withdrawal penalty on top of regular income taxes.

However, most annuities allow you to withdraw up to 10% penalty-free during the surrender charge period. This limit then disappears once the surrender charge period expires. In addition, most annuities also allow you to access your funds if you are in need of long-term care. 

Are Annuities FDIC Insured?

Annuities are not FDIC insured since they are not bank products. They are insurance contracts, and their safety relies on the financial stability of the issuing insurance company.

Understanding the frequently asked questions about annuities is crucial for making well-informed financial decisions. Annuities can be powerful retirement tools when aligned with specific financial goals, risk tolerance, and overall financial planning. However, it’s essential to carefully evaluate the terms, fees, and benefits of each annuity type to ensure it meets your unique needs and circumstances. Consulting with a qualified financial advisor can help you determine if an annuity is the right fit for your retirement strategy.

Want to see how annuities can improve your portfolio? Contact us today!

Shane Wayland


 “Index or fixed annuities are not designed for short-term investments and may be subject to caps, restrictions, fees, and surrender charges as described in the annuity contract. Guarantees are backed by the financial strength and claims-paying ability of the issuer. Please refer to our firm brochure, the ADV 2A Item 4, for additional information.”