A fixed annuity pays out a fixed amount of money (also known as a lump sum), which can stabilize income no matter the ups and downs of the market. Based on the plan, when the owner of a fixed annuity passes away, the remaining funds may pass to the insurance company or a beneficiary. Some fixed annuities are designed to provide income to beneficiaries and a death benefit. If you want to ensure your loved ones have the financial support they need when you are gone, ensure you have a fixed annuity with a death benefit. The insurance company may also offer you the option to increase the value of the death benefit.
For the potential for a higher rate of return, a variable annuity allows you to participate in the financial markets. The variable annuity invests your contributions into subaccounts. These subaccounts usually offer you a considerable range of investment options in which to allocate your money. Typical subaccounts may include stocks, bonds, a blend of stocks and bonds, money market accounts, and precious metals
While participating in the financial markets allows you to take advantage of the opportunities for greater growth, it also exposes you to the risk of loss. That’s why many of the top companies offer products with plan guarantees, such as a minimum guaranteed annual rate of return of 5 percent or market rate, or some combination of both. Some companies also offer features such as a lock-in rate based on market highs established on an annual, monthly or even daily basis. This provision means that your annuity’s rate of return will not fall below this lock-in rate even if market performance falls below it.
Because each company’s products differ, be sure to evaluate carefully the prospectus of any variable contract you may be considering.
These policies are tied to a specific market index, such as the S&P 500, with a rate cap on potential earnings and a guaranteed minimum return. Most of these policies provide a guarantee that the original investment will not be lost, even when the market goes down.
The benefit of these policies includes:
- The potential for a higher rate of return on the invested funds.
- Protects the principal investment.
- Increases in value, tax-deferred.
- Guarantees income, whether monthly or lump-sum payout for retirement.
- Customizable to match individual needs.
- A death benefit provision that allows the policy owner to designate a beneficiary to receive the remaining funds in the account or a guaranteed minimum.
An indexed annuity may be a smart investment for investors who are interested in achieving some advantage for market growth without the risk of losing the original investment.