Many people buy annuities for protection. But what kinds of protection can they provide? The answer depends in large part on the kind of annuity you own.
At the very least, all annuities can protect you against the financial risk of running out of money in retirement. Annuities counter this hazard by paying you a guaranteed income. Your income can last for a certain timespan or for life. This protection is available with fixed-type and variable annuities alike.
However, fixed annuities also protect the contract owner against downfalls tied to market risk, long-term care costs, and financial risks that can derail your legacy wishes. Here’s a rundown of what an annuity can protect you against in your retirement-saving and post-retirement years. Read More
In times of wild market swings and low-interest rates from Treasurys, CDs, and other fixed-interest assets, annuities can bring a sense of calm and predictability to a portfolio. Many people refer to annuities as “retirement annuities,” because they are particularly well-designed for retirement goals.
Annuities are the only instrument capable of paying you a guaranteed income stream for as long as you live. No other instrument on the planet offers this.
You can think of this in terms of a monthly paycheck or money for life. You will receive a check in the mail from the life insurance company that you can count on, again and again, for the rest of your lifetime.
That is no matter how equity markets perform. Annuity income can therefore be seen as a kind of “private pension.”
Speaking in an analogy, you already have your own annuity with Social Security payments. You paid into Social Security’s coffers during your career. Then, when retired, you receive a monthly income that pays you like clockwork.
Annuities work in much the same way. They can be a great supplement to the assured income you will receive from your Social Security payouts.
Depending upon your overall goals, annuities can also help you reach your objectives with other contract features as well. Here’s a look at why retirement annuities can bring predictability to your lifestyle and stability to your portfolio. Read More
Sometimes the stock market can go through a rough patch. The market takes a dive, and then the near-term outlook for stocks might not be that rosy. During those times, many people go on the hunt for ways to keep their money safe.
For millions of Americans, one answer is fixed-type annuities. If you are considering annuities as a place of refuge, then this next question couldn’t be more important for you.
If you had money in a fixed annuity or a fixed index annuity and the market dropped, how much money would you lose? The answer, of course, is not even a cent due to the market falling.
One of the benefits of fixed and index annuities is their guarantee of principal protection. When you put money into a fixed index annuity, the insurance company pledges to keep your money protected from falling index values. The financial safety nets that it maintains to protect your money are indeed very strong.
Even if the market sees a swing like it did in the early 2000s or in 2008, it wouldn’t matter. Your money will stay intact inside your annuity contract. Read More
People buy annuities for many reasons, from market protection to guaranteed income payouts. After all, an annuity is the only instrument capable of paying a guaranteed income for life. But who guarantees annuities? What sort of safeguards stand behind those guarantees?
The annuity guarantor is, of course, the life insurance company issuing the contract.
By law, life insurance companies must maintain very strict capital reserves for every dollar of fixed annuity premium. State regulators require annuity insurers to keep dollar-for-dollar reserves in coverage for every dollar of fixed annuity premium they hold.
Many life insurance companies hold reserves above this. For example, some insurers have $1.08 in reserve capital for every annuity premium dollar.
Hence, this is what financial pundits mean when they say that a life insurer’s ability to make good on their annuity promises depend on that company’s financial strength and claims-paying ability.
What about other safeguards if an insurance company has a liquidity problem? There are also other measures that state insurance regulators put in place as a financial safety net.
Let’s get more into the details of how insurance companies’ financial strength are monitored. We will also cover some of these other safety net features that help back up fixed annuity guarantees to policyholders. Read More
Annuities have become increasingly popular in recent years. While due to many reasons, two big ones are that annuities pay guaranteed income and provide tax-advantaged growth for your money.
The biggest advantage of their guaranteed payouts? Your income stream doesn’t change with political or economic conditions, such as a recession.
The technical definition of an economic recession is two successive quarters of negative economic growth. The National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) is the body that determines when the U.S. economy is going through a recessionary period.
According to research by NBER and graph data from the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, the United States has been through 17 recessions since 1920. Read More
How is an annuity priced? And why should it matter to you? While you may be exploring an annuity for your retirement, many Americans count on fixed annuity contracts as a safeguard against today’s economic uncertainty.
In many ways, retirees and retirement savers have had a rough go in this ever-changing economic climate. Retired Americans have sought to find choices that pay sufficient regular income for their monthly household needs. Risk-averse savers also have been hit particularly hard, as interest rates still remain near historic lows.
Millions of people have found peace of mind by receiving a lifetime income stream from an annuity contract. This type of payout will guarantee someone a fixed sum of money on a regular basis for as long as he or she lives.
But how can you, the annuitant on the contract, know if you are getting a good deal on the annuity (a fair annuity price) when you buy one for your portfolio? There are several factors that enter into how a life insurance company will price its annuity payouts.
To help you receive the best “bang for your buck,” it’s good to understand how these factors can affect the pricing of annuities by insurance companies — and the impact on the annuity payout you will receive. Read More
Annuities can provide retirement savers with many unique benefits: tax-deferred growth, guaranteed lifetime income, guaranteed interest rates, and protection from downside risk, to name a few.
For the most part, the IRS doesn’t have limits on how much money can be placed inside an annuity, giving people more opportunity to take advantage of the contractual guarantees. And if you want more growth potential for your money, fixed annuities and fixed index annuities can earn higher interest while protecting your principal.
However, one limitation that annuities have is their liquidity. Annuity owners give up having complete liquidity in exchange for these benefits, and if their money is in fixed-type annuity contracts, that is a very safe place with the dollar-for-dollar reserves that insurance companies must maintain.
So, are annuities a liquid asset? Yes, they offer some liquidity, but not as much liquidity as you might find in other types of assets in today’s markets. It’s a trade-off for those rock-solid, guaranteed benefits that they provide.
Even so, there are some provisions for liquidity in annuity contracts. You might access your money in a variety of ways: free withdrawals, cumulative free withdrawals, and waivers of surrender charges (where you get your money back in a qualifying situation) are a few.
Let’s talk about the liquidity of annuities in more detail. Read More
One of the chief criticisms of annuities is their relative lack of liquidity. This is true in some respects. Annuity owners give up complete liquidity in exchange for other benefits, including insurer guarantees for lifetime income, guaranteed growth, or protection from downside risk.
Many annuities now come with guaranteed income riders that can be turned off and on while letting you still access at least some principal. And most contracts do offer something called “free withdrawals.” Read More
How much income will your annuity contract pay you? The answer depends on what age you start collecting income from your annuity.
If you start income at age 70-75, you will receive higher payouts. If you begin your annuity income in your mid-50s, it will be less than what you would receive in your 60s or later.
Annuities therefore resemble Social Security in that their payouts will increase the longer you wait to take them. But annuities with qualified money, or pre-tax dollars, in them have required minimum distributions that must be taken by age 72.
Why is this? Since the insurance company is on the hook for paying you guaranteed income for a certain period or life, it manages its risk based on the age of when you start that guaranteed income stream.
The insurance company also builds estimates of statistically how long it believes you will live into every single one of its income payments. These estimates are based on life expectancy and mortality data. Read More
As an annuity owner, you take comfort in knowing that you have planned for an uninterrupted lifelong retirement income stream. Working alongside other income sources from your nest egg, it will pay out, like clockwork, to fund the retirement you have always imagined.
But have you considered whether your income streams are as “efficient” as possible? Whatever retirement strategy you choose — income and all — needs to be “tax-efficient” to ensure you get the most mileage out of your money.
This is just one more piece in the retirement planning puzzle that each of us must solve. When we don’t plan for retirement, we run the risk of underspending or overspending our retirement dollars.
What if underspending doesn’t seem like a problem, but rather like an advantage? Consider what events and opportunities to which you may say “no.” And simply because underspending pressures you to have a scarcity mentality, or when you don’t really know if you can afford them.
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