4 Questions to Ask Before Buying an Annuity

Are you contemplating how to secure your financial future during retirement? Annuities can be the answer you’re seeking.

They offer a guaranteed income stream, ensuring you’re financially prepared for your golden years. But many people still have questions concerning annuities and their roles.

In this article, we’ll answer 4 questions to ask before buying an annuity.


  • Understand annuity types and associated costs/fees to make an informed decision for retirement income.
  • Evaluate pros & cons of different options, weighing guaranteed income against growth potential.
  • Ensure financial security by selecting a reputable insurer with good financial strength rating.

Need help choosing the best annuity for your unique situation? If so, it’s best to speak with an annuity specialist. Watch this short video to see how I can help you do this (at no cost to you!).

Question 1: What kind of annuity type is right for you?

Annuities come in three primary flavors: fixed, indexed, and variable. Each type serves as a vehicle for retirement savings and offers unique benefits tailored to your individual needs.

Fixed annuities provide a guaranteed interest rate and income, while indexed annuities safeguard against market decline and offer potential growth linked to a market index. They can also offer guaranteed lifetime income.

On the other hand, variable annuities provide the opportunity to invest in subaccounts, carrying a higher growth potential but also a higher risk. We’ll examine the characteristics and benefits of each type next.

Fixed Annuities

Fixed annuities offer stability and predictability by providing a guaranteed interest rate and income stream. They come in various forms, such as traditional fixed annuities, fixed index annuities, and multi-year guaranteed annuities, all of which fall under the umbrella of a fixed annuity.

One popular option is the fixed immediate annuity, where you provide an insurance company with a lump sum in exchange for fixed monthly payments for a designated period or for life.

This arrangement ensures a steady flow of income throughout your retirement, alleviating the stress of market fluctuations.

Nevertheless, the ability of the insurance company to pay claims is a key factor to keep in mind when considering immediate annuities, as well as exploring alternatives like deferred annuities.

Indexed Annuities

Indexed annuities provide a unique combination of protection and growth potential. They offer benefits like:

  • Shielding your investment from market losses
  • Potential growth linked to a market index, such as the S&P 500
  • Fixed Index Annuities (FIAs) guaranteeing that the return will never drop below zero.

Although indexed annuities expose you to market fluctuations, they come with less risk than variable annuities. The trade-off is that they may offer lower returns compared to direct market investments, making them suitable for those seeking a balance between growth and protection.

Variable Annuities

Variable annuities allow you to invest in subaccounts, offering higher growth potential but also higher risk. These subaccounts, similar to mutual funds, enable you to build a diversified portfolio by investing in a combination of stocks, bonds, and money market instruments.

However, variable annuities come with additional costs for optional benefits, such as living benefit riders. They also involve the same investment risks as mutual funds, so poor performance of investment choices could result in a loss of funds or even cause you to lose money.

Keep in mind your risk tolerance and investment objectives before opting for a variable annuity.

Not sure what is the best type of annuity for you? Watch this short video to see how we can help you figure it out.

Question 2: What are the costs and fees associated with Annuities?

Annuities come with various costs and fees, depending on the type and purpose. These include income rider fees, administrative fees, and surrender charges. Comprehending these fees is important during the annuity purchase process, given they can influence your total financial results.

We’ll scrutinize each of these fees, including tax deferral, in detail to aid you in making a well-informed choice for your retirement income.

Income Rider Fees

Income rider fees are additional charges incurred when an income rider is added to an annuity contract. These fees, typically ranging from 0.6% to 1.1% annually, are deducted from the accumulation value of the annuity and reduce its value over time.

However, the addition of an income rider ensures a guaranteed lifetime income stream, even if the annuity runs out of money. In essence, you’re trading a portion of your annuity’s value for the security of a guaranteed income.

Administrative Fees

Administrative fees cover the insurer’s expenses for managing the annuity, such as recordkeeping, customer service, and account maintenance. These fees are generally estimated to be around 0.3% of the annuity’s value, with additional mortality expenses ranging from 0.5% to 1.5% yearly.

It’s important to include administrative fees and other related costs in your comparison of annuity options to make a well-rounded decision.

Surrender Charges

Surrender charges apply if you withdraw funds from the annuity before a specified period. These charges are typically a percentage of the total annuity value, and the surrender period, and usually ranges from 5 to 10 years.

Comprehending surrender charges is vital during the evaluation of an annuity’s potential value, given these charges can have a significant effect on your financial results if funds are needed during the surrender charge period.

Need help navigating the different annuity fees? Have questions about these fees? Click here to watch a short video to see how we can help you find the best annuity (at no cost to you).

Question 3: What are the pros & cons of different annuities?

A critical part of evaluating annuities is considering the advantages and disadvantages. This includes examining trade-offs, like guaranteed income against growth potential, and market exposure against risk.

Armed with a clear understanding of the distinctive characteristics and advantages of each annuity type, you can make a decision that best fits your financial aspirations and risk capacity.

Guaranteed Income vs. Growth Potential

Annuities, also known as annuity contracts, can provide a guaranteed income stream for life, ensuring financial stability during retirement. However, this guaranteed income may come at the cost of lower growth potential compared to direct market investments, such as stocks or bonds.

Consider your financial goals and the amount of guaranteed income you need when selecting an annuity. Striking the right balance between obtaining a steady retirement income and chasing growth opportunities is vital.

Market Exposure and Risk

Different types of annuities have varying levels of market exposure and risk. Here are the different types of annuities and their characteristics:

  1. Fixed annuities: These annuities offer guaranteed interest rates and income without market risk.
  2. Indexed annuities: These annuities provide some market exposure with a lower level of risk compared to variable annuities.
  3. Variable annuities: These annuities expose you to market risks due to their investment choices.

Consider your risk tolerance and investment objectives when buying an annuity. Make sure the annuity you select is in line with your financial goals and the degree of market exposure you’re at ease with.

If you need help weighing your options, watch this short video that explains how we can help you do this.

How do I choose a reputable annuity provider?

To ensure financial security, it’s vital to select a reputable insurance company with a solid financial strength rating.

It’s important to investigate the financial stability, reputation, and customer satisfaction of an insurer when selecting one for your annuity. Some top insurance companies offering annuities include:

  • Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company
  • USAA Life Insurance Company
  • New York Life Insurance
  • Athene Holdings

Assessing the financial stability of an insurance company involves factors such as:

  • Financial ratings
  • Financial statements
  • Claims payment history
  • Market share
  • Regulatory compliance

Conducting this due diligence will provide you with the confidence that your insurer has the claims paying ability to fulfill their obligations.

Financial Strength Ratings

Financial strength ratings, provided by independent rating agencies such as A.M. Best, Fitch, Moody’s, and Standard & Poor’s, evaluate the insurer’s solvency, financial stability, and capacity to fulfill policyholder claims.

A-rated insurers are distinguished by their high ratings, signifying their solvency and financial stability. Selecting a reputable insurer with a robust financial strength rating can provide reassurance that your retirement income is secure.

The problem is… 

Searching through all these companies to find the best one can be confusing and time consuming! 

That’s why, we do it all for you.

On a call, we can show you all the annuities from the top-rated insurance companies so you can make an informed and educated decision.

Click here to see a short video that explains how it all works.


Annuities can provide a secure and stable retirement income, but it’s crucial to understand the different types, evaluate costs and fees, assess trade-offs, and choose a reputable insurer.

By considering these factors, you’ll be well-equipped to make an informed decision that aligns with your financial goals and risk tolerance.

By consulting with an annuity expert, you can make educated decisions regarding your annuity investments, ensuring a safe and secure retirement income strategy that meets your unique financial goals and needs.

Click here to schedule a call.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the do’s and don’ts of buying an annuity?

Do your research when considering an annuity, eliminate volatility and educate yourself on the different types of annuities. Don’t assume CDs and Money Markets are the only safe place for retirement funds, and create a game plan. It’s also recommended you speak with a retirement planner before making any decisions.

What should I be aware of with annuities?

It’s important to be aware that withdrawals may lead to tax, the current interest rate and minimum guaranteed interest rate of a fixed annuity, and the fees associated with it. Some contracts have high annual fees, while others waive them completely.

Speak to an annuity expert to avoid making any mistakes before you get an annuity.

What are the three primary types of annuities?

The three main types of annuities are fixed, indexed, and variable, each offering distinct features and advantages suitable for individual needs.

What are the main costs and fees associated with annuities?

Annuities come with various costs and fees, including income rider fees, administrative fees, and surrender charges. These costs depend on the type of annuity and its purpose.

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