Costs Of Annuities

Annuities can come with various costs, which can vary depending on the type of annuity and the insurance company offering it. An annuity is a contract between an individual and an insurance company where the individual pays the insurer a lump sum or series of payments in exchange for a guaranteed income stream for a certain period or for life. 

Costs Of Annuities

Annuities can be an attractive option for individuals looking to secure their retirement income or achieve other long-term financial goals. However, like any investment, annuities come with costs and fees that can significantly impact the overall return on investment. 

It is essential to have a comprehensive understanding of annuity fees and costs to make informed decisions when selecting the right annuity for your financial goals. 

In this article, we will discuss the most typical fees and costs associated with annuities and provide you with the information you need to evaluate the cost-benefit of annuities. So let’s get started and dive into the costs of annuities!

Annuity Fees And Commissions

Annuities come with a variety of fees and costs that can significantly impact the overall return on investment. In this section, we will discuss the most typical fees and costs associated with annuities and explain each of them in detail.

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The premium is the amount of money that an individual pays to the insurance company to purchase an annuity contract. The premium amount can vary based on the type of annuity, the payment option selected, the individual’s age and health status, and the desired payout amount. 

Typically, the premium payment is a one-time payment for immediate annuities or a series of payments for deferred annuities. The premium payment is used to fund the annuity contract, which in turn generates regular payments to the individual.


Commissions are one of the fees associated with annuities that compensate the agent or broker who sells the annuity. These fees are typically a percentage of the amount invested in the annuity and can be paid upfront or over time. 

The commission structure for annuities can vary, but it is important to be aware of how the commissions affect the overall cost of the annuity. Some annuities may have higher commissions, which can result in higher fees, while others may have lower commissions or no commissions at all. 

Administrative Fees

Administrative fees are charged by the insurance company to cover the expenses of administering the annuity. These fees are typically charged on an ongoing basis and can vary depending on the type of annuity and the insurance company offering it. 

Administrative fees may cover costs such as record keeping, customer service, and other administrative expenses related to the annuity. It’s important to carefully review the administrative fees of an annuity before investing to ensure that you understand the full costs associated with the annuity.

Surrender Charges

Surrender charges are a type of fee that may be associated with certain types of annuities, such as deferred annuities. These charges are typically applied if the annuity contract is terminated or surrendered within a certain period of time after it is established, usually within the first several years of the contract.

The amount of the surrender charge can vary depending on the terms of the annuity contract, but it may be calculated as a percentage of the contract value, a percentage of the premiums paid, or a combination of both. 

The Pros and Cons of Annuities Infographic (Tax-deferred growth, guaranteed income, diversification, fees, restrictions, inflation risk).

Mortality Expenses

Mortality expenses are one of the fees associated with annuities, which represent the cost of the insurance company providing a guaranteed stream of income for the life of the annuitant. 

These expenses are calculated based on the annuitant’s age, gender, and life expectancy, and are included in the annuity’s pricing structure. Mortality expenses reflect the risk that the insurance company takes on in providing the guaranteed income stream. 

The longer the annuitant lives, the more payments the insurance company is required to make, and the greater the cost to the company. As a result, annuities purchased by older individuals typically have higher mortality expenses than those purchased by younger individuals.

Investment Expense Ratio

The investment expense ratio is a type of fee that is charged by the insurance company for managing the underlying investments in an annuity. 

It represents the annual percentage of the total value of the annuity that is deducted from the account balance to cover investment management fees, administrative expenses, and other costs associated with managing the investments. 

The investment expense ratio can vary depending on the type of annuity and the investments chosen. Typically, annuities with more actively managed investments will have higher expense ratios, while those with passive investments such as index funds may have lower expense ratios. 


Riders are optional features that can be added to a base annuity product in order to customize it to meet specific needs. Riders can provide additional benefits, such as increased income, death benefits, long-term care coverage, or the ability to withdraw funds without penalty in certain situations.

While these features can provide additional value to the annuity holder, they often come with additional fees, which can increase the overall cost of the annuity. It’s important to carefully consider the potential benefits and costs of any rider before deciding whether to add it to an annuity.

Common Types Of Riders For Annuities

  • Guaranteed Minimum Withdrawal Benefits: This rider guarantees a minimum amount of income that can be withdrawn from the annuity each year, regardless of the actual performance of the underlying investments.
  • Long-Term Care Riders: This rider provides coverage for long-term care expenses, which can be especially valuable for retirees who may be more vulnerable to health issues.
  • Death Benefit Riders: This rider provides a death benefit to the annuity holder’s beneficiaries if the annuity holder passes away.
  • Inflation Protection Riders: This rider can help to protect against the eroding effects of inflation by adjusting the annuity payments for inflation over time.

Fees Vs. Spreads

Fees and spreads are both ways that financial institutions can earn revenue when offering financial products such as annuities.

Fees refer to specific charges that are levied against the value of the annuity, such as commissions, administrative fees, and rider fees. 

These fees are usually set as a percentage of the total account value and are charged at specific intervals or upon certain events, such as withdrawing funds from the account.

Spreads, on the other hand, refer to the difference between the interest rate the insurance company earns on the annuity’s underlying investments and the interest rate paid to the annuity holder. 

The spread represents the insurance company’s profit margin on the annuity, and it is typically the primary source of revenue for fixed and fixed index annuities.

While both fees and spreads can add to the cost of an annuity, it’s important to understand that they serve different purposes. Fees are charged to cover specific services provided by the insurance company, while spreads represent the insurer’s profit margin. 

Which Annuities Have The Lowest Fees?

When it comes to selecting an annuity, fees and costs can play a major role in your decision-making process. 

While some annuities may have higher fees and charges than others, it’s important to weigh the benefits against the costs and choose an annuity that meets your individual needs and goals.

There are some annuities that may have lower fees and expenses than others. For example, a simple fixed annuity may have lower fees compared to a variable annuity. Immediate annuities and deferred income annuities may also have lower fees compared to other types of annuities.

Is An Annuity Still Worth It?

An annuity can provide a guaranteed stream of income during retirement, but it’s important to carefully consider whether it’s worth the costs. Here are some factors to keep in mind when deciding if an annuity is right for you:

Reasons To Invest In Annuities

An annuity can be a great investment choice if you’re looking for a steady income stream throughout your retirement years. It’s particularly attractive for those who want to avoid the risks associated with investing in the stock market. Additionally, annuities can be used as a part of your estate planning.

How Do Annuities Work? 

An annuity is a financial product that is designed to provide a regular income stream during retirement. The owner of the annuity makes a lump-sum payment or a series of payments to an insurance company, and in return, the insurance company makes regular payments to the annuitant. The payment can be made for a fixed period or for the annuitant’s lifetime.

Variable Annuity Fees

Variable annuities are a type of annuity that offer investors the opportunity to earn returns based on the performance of a designated investment portfolio. 

These annuities are also known for their complex fee structures, which can have a significant impact on the net returns an investor receives.

Here are the six variable annuity fees you need to know about:

  1. Mortality And Expense Risk (M&E) Fee: This is a fee that compensates the insurance company for the risks they take on when guaranteeing your principal and returns. It covers administrative costs and guarantees a payout to your beneficiaries in the event of your death.
  1. Administration Fee: This is a flat fee that covers the administrative costs of maintaining the annuity, such as record-keeping and account statements.
  1. Investment Management Fee: This fee covers the cost of managing the underlying investments in your annuity. It is typically charged as a percentage of the total assets held in the investment portfolio.
  1. Surrender Charge: A surrender charge is a fee imposed if you withdraw money from your annuity before a certain time period, known as the surrender period, has elapsed. The surrender period can last anywhere from several years to a decade or more.
  1. Rider Fee: Annuities may offer riders or optional benefits, such as a guaranteed minimum income benefit, long-term care rider or a death benefit. These riders often come at an additional cost, which is charged as a rider fee.
  1. Contract Maintenance Fee: Some variable annuities charge a contract maintenance fee, which covers ongoing administrative costs for the life of the contract.

Frequently Asked Questions About Annuity Fees

Do annuities have high fees?

Annuities can have fees that are higher than other types of investments, as they often include a combination of insurance and investment management. 

However, not all annuities have high fees, and it is important to carefully review the fees associated with any annuity before investing.

What annuities have the lowest fees?

The annuities with the lowest fees are typically fixed annuities or immediate annuities, which have a relatively straightforward structure and do not include many additional features or riders. 

It is important to compare fees across different annuity products and providers to find the lowest fee option.

Are there annuities with no fees?

It is rare to find an annuity with absolutely no fees, but some annuities may have lower fees than others, and some fees may be waived or reduced under certain circumstances. 

It is important to carefully review the terms and conditions of any annuity to understand the fees that will be charged.

How do annuities work?

Annuities are financial products that provide regular payments to an individual in exchange for an initial investment or series of payments. 

The payments may be immediate or deferred, and the investment may be managed in a variety of ways, depending on the type of annuity.

What is a rider charge on an annuity?

A rider charge on an annuity is a fee that is assessed for adding a rider to the annuity contract. 

A rider is an additional feature or benefit that can be added to an annuity, such as a death benefit or a long-term care rider. Adding a rider will typically increase the cost of the annuity.

What is an annuity account?

An annuity account is the account in which an individual’s investment in an annuity is held. 

The account is managed by the annuity provider, and the funds are invested in accordance with the terms of the annuity contract. The account may be structured in a variety of ways, depending on the type of annuity.

Are annuities expensive?

Annuities can be more expensive than other types of investments, as they often include insurance components as well as investment management. 

However, the costs associated with an annuity can vary widely depending on the type of annuity and the provider, and it is important to carefully review the fees and expenses associated with any annuity before investing.


Annuities are an investment product that can provide a guaranteed stream of income in retirement, but they come with fees and expenses that can eat away at your returns. 

It is important to understand the various fees and commissions associated with annuities before investing in one. It is also essential to consider factors like the type of annuity, the insurance company’s financial strength, and the current interest rate environment.

While annuities may not be the right choice for everyone, they can be a valuable part of a retirement plan for those who prioritize guaranteed income over market returns. Before making a decision, it is crucial to weigh the costs and benefits of an annuity and seek professional advice.

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