A fixed annuity is a type of annuity contract that allows for the accumulation of capital on a tax-deferred basis. In exchange for a lump sum of capital, a life insurance company credits the annuity account with a guaranteed fixed rate of interest while guaranteeing the principal investment. A fixed annuity can be annuitized to provide the annuitant with a guaranteed income payout for a specified term or for life.
Fixed annuities are essentially CD-like investments issued by insurance companies. Like CDs, they pay guaranteed rates of interest, in many cases higher than bank CDs. Fixed annuities can be deferred or immediate. The deferred variety accumulate regular rates of interest and the immediate kind make fixed payments - determined by your age and size of your annuity - during retirement.
An indexed annuity is a contract issued and guaranteed1 by an insurance company. You invest an amount of money (premium) in return for protection against down markets; the potential for some investment growth, linked to an index (e.g., the S&P 500® Index); and, in some cases, a guaranteed level of lifetime income through optional riders.Guaranteed minimums – the benefit of indexed annuities is that they do not always involve full exposure to the stock market, therefore minimizing your risk of loss of principal. The benefit here is that no matter what direction the stock market goes in, there is a guaranteed minimum that you will earn. Even though you are still trying to profit based on upwards movement in the different markets, there is still a safety level that you are provided with when investing in indexed annuities.
A number of the annuity products currently on the market can help provide a secure stream of income during retirement. Some annuities that may be suitable for your unique situation are fixed annuities, with principal protection and no market exposure, and fixed index annuities, with principal protection and the potential for higher earnings with increases in a linked Market Index. Riders are usually available, for an additional annual premium, to include protection against inflation and other benefits. Some of the policies available will include an up-front bonus that begins earning interest along with your premium amount immediately.Some of the features that are available to you through fixed index annuities are bonuses, various crediting methods, and allocation options that give you choices for your money.
Most annuities have a surrender period for the first five to 15 years of ownership; early withdrawal will deplete your principal by the amount of surrender charge still in force. Bonus annuities may carry higher fees and charges than annuities without the bonus feature, may only accumulate interest prior to annuitization, and may not pay the bonus in case of early withdrawal.
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