Who Should Buy Annuities?

Annuities can be suitable for individuals who want a guaranteed income stream for life, have limited investment experience or expertise, or want to protect against longevity risk (the risk of outliving one’s savings).

Who Should Buy Annuities?

Annuities May Be Appropriate For:

  1. Retirees who want a reliable and predictable source of income in retirement.
  2. Individuals who are concerned about outliving their retirement savings.
  3. Those who want to protect against market volatility and other investment risks.
  4. People who want to simplify their retirement income planning and have a guaranteed income stream for life.
  5. Individuals who are not confident in their ability to manage their investments or do not want to take on the risk of managing their investments.
  6. People who want to leave a legacy or provide for their beneficiaries after their death.

In this article, we will explore the factors that individuals should consider before purchasing an annuity and help answer the question, “who should buy annuities?” Whether you are new to annuities or seeking to deepen your understanding, this article will provide valuable insights into this important retirement planning tool.

Looking for more information on purchasing annuities? Our in-depth guide on purchasing annuities covers everything you need to know, from the basics to advanced topics.

Factors To Consider Before Purchasing An Annuity

Before purchasing an annuity, it’s essential to consider various factors to ensure it aligns with your retirement goals and financial situation.

FactorHow Annuities Satisfy
Guaranteed IncomeAnnuities can provide a reliable and predictable income stream for life, which can help cover living expenses in retirement.
Longevity RiskAnnuities can help protect against the risk of outliving one’s savings by providing income for the rest of the annuitant’s life.
Market VolatilityAnnuities can provide a fixed income stream that is not subject to market fluctuations or other investment risks.
Investment ExperienceAnnuities can be suitable for individuals who do not want to take on the risk of managing their investments or lack investment experience.
Legacy PlanningAnnuities can offer death benefit options that can provide for beneficiaries after the annuitant’s death.
Tax EfficiencyAnnuities can offer tax-deferred growth and may be taxed at a lower rate than other retirement income sources.
Retirement PlanningAnnuities can be used as part of a comprehensive retirement income plan to provide a reliable income stream for life.

Here are some key things to consider before purchasing an annuity as well:

  1. Purpose Of The Annuity: Understanding the purpose of the annuity is crucial. For instance, are you purchasing it for immediate income or long-term savings? Are you looking for a guaranteed income stream or growth potential?
  1. Type Of Annuity: Annuities come in various forms, such as fixed, variable, immediate, and indexed annuities. Each type has different features and benefits, so it is essential to understand which one aligns with your needs.
  1. Fees And Charges: Annuities can have fees and charges that impact your earnings, such as administrative fees, surrender charges, and mortality and expense risk fees. Understanding these fees is essential to avoid surprises and make informed decisions.
  1. Tax Implications: Annuities can have different tax implications, depending on how they are structured. It is essential to consider the tax implications before purchasing an annuity to ensure you understand the tax treatment of annuity payments.
  1. Financial Stability Of The Insurance Company: Annuities are backed by the insurance company that issues them, so it is essential to consider the financial strength of the insurer before making a purchase.
  1. Annuity Rider Options: Annuities may offer additional riders, such as a death benefit rider, long-term care rider, or inflation protection rider. It is crucial to evaluate these options and determine whether they align with your needs.
  1. Age And Health: The age and health of the annuity purchaser can impact the payout and the type of annuity that best suits their needs.
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Different Annuity Features And Fees

Annuities come in various forms, each with different features and fees. This table gives an easy breakdown on three types of annuities: fixed, variable, and indexed. 

Feature/FeeFixed AnnuityVariable AnnuityIndexed Annuity
Potential For Market Gains
Potential For Market Losses
Investment Options
Surrender Charges
Administrative Fees
Mortality And Expense Risk (M&E) Fees
Income Rider Fees
Death Benefit Rider

Here’s further explanation of some common annuity features and fees:

  1. Fixed Annuities: Fixed annuities offer a guaranteed interest rate, which can be either fixed for the entire term of the annuity or for a specified period.
  1. Variable Annuities: Variable annuities offer investment options that allow the annuity holder to invest in mutual funds or other investment vehicles. The rate of return is not guaranteed and can vary based on market performance.
  1. Immediate Annuities: Immediate annuities provide an immediate income stream and are typically purchased with a lump sum payment. The payments are fixed and based on the annuity holder’s life expectancy.
  1. Indexed Annuities: Indexed annuities offer a rate of return linked to a market index, such as the S&P 500. The rate of return is not guaranteed and can vary based on market performance.
  1. Surrender Charges: Surrender charges are fees that may be imposed if you withdraw money from the annuity before the end of the surrender period. Surrender charges typically decrease over time.
  1. Administrative Fees: Administrative fees are charged by the insurance company to cover the costs of administering the annuity.
  1. Mortality And Expense Risk Fees: Mortality and expense risk fees are charged to cover the insurance company’s costs of providing death benefits and managing the annuity.
  1. Income Rider Fees: Income rider fees are charged to provide additional features, such as a guaranteed income stream, which may be added to the annuity.

Pros And Cons Of Annuities For Different Situations

Annuities can offer both advantages and disadvantages, depending on an individual’s financial situation and goals. Here are some pros and cons of annuities for different individuals:

  1. Pros For Individuals Who Need Guaranteed Income: An annuity can provide a guaranteed stream of income for life, which can be particularly beneficial for individuals who need steady income in retirement.
  1. Cons For Individuals Seeking High Returns: Annuities typically have lower returns compared to other investment products, which may not be suitable for individuals seeking high returns.
  1. Pros For Individuals Concerned About Market Volatility: Annuities provide protection against market volatility, which can be beneficial for individuals who are risk-averse and concerned about market fluctuations.
  1. Cons For Individuals Needing Liquidity: Annuities typically have restrictions on withdrawals and can have surrender charges, which can be substantial if you need to access your money in the short term.
  1. Pros For Individuals With A Long Life Expectancy: An annuity can provide protection against longevity risk, which is the risk of outliving your retirement savings. This can be particularly beneficial for individuals with a family history of longevity or who expect to live a long life.
  1. Cons For Individuals With A Short Life Expectancy: Annuities may not be suitable for individuals with a short life expectancy, as the annuity payments may not provide a significant benefit.
  1. Pros For Individuals Looking For Tax-Deferred Growth: Annuities provide unique tax benefits, as the investment grows tax-deferred until you begin receiving payments. This can be beneficial for individuals looking to minimize taxes in retirement.
  1. Cons For Individuals With High Taxes: Annuity payments are generally taxed as ordinary income, which can be disadvantageous for individuals with high tax rates.

Common Myths About Annuities

Annuities are often misunderstood, and there are many myths surrounding them that can prevent people from considering them as part of their retirement planning. Here are some common myths about annuities and the truth behind them:

Myth #1: Annuities Are Too Expensive

While it’s true that annuities may come with fees and charges, it’s important to remember that they offer guaranteed income for life, which can be invaluable during retirement. 

When considering the cost of an annuity, it’s important to weigh it against the potential benefits and compare it to other retirement income options.

Myth #2: Annuities Are Only For The Wealthy

Annuities are available at a range of price points, and there are many different types of annuities to choose from. 

While some may require a significant upfront investment, others can be purchased with smaller amounts of money. An annuity can be a useful tool for anyone looking to secure guaranteed income during retirement.

Myth #3: Annuities Are Too Complicated

While annuities can be complex financial products, they don’t have to be complicated for the investor. It’s important to work with a financial advisor who can explain the details of the annuity and how it fits into your retirement plan. 

With the right guidance, an annuity can be a straightforward and useful retirement income tool.

Myth #4: Annuities Have No Flexibility

While some annuities do have restrictions on withdrawals or changes to the contract, others offer more flexibility. For example, some annuities allow you to withdraw a portion of your money without penalty or adjust the payment amount if your financial situation changes. 


Annuities can be a valuable financial tool for those looking to protect their retirement income and provide a steady stream of payments. 

However, it is important to carefully consider your individual financial situation and goals before purchasing an annuity. Consulting with a financial planner or tax advisor can also be helpful in determining if an annuity is the right choice for you. 

Additionally, it is crucial to understand the fees, features, and terms of any annuity before making a purchase. By taking the time to research and understand annuities, you can make an informed decision and help secure your financial future.

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

Optional: Additional Resources

If you would like to learn more about annuities, here are some additional resources that you may find helpful:

  1. The National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) offers a free Annuity Buyer’s Guide that provides an overview of annuities and their features. You can download a copy from their website.
  1. The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has a helpful guide on variable annuities that explains the pros and cons of this type of annuity.
  1. The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) has a helpful guide on fixed annuities that provides an overview of these annuities and how they work.
  1. Your state insurance department can also be a valuable resource for information on annuities and insurance products in general.

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