Online Insurance Quotes: What Is An Annuity?
An annuity is a contract between an individual ("annuitant") and an insurance company. The annuitant agrees to pay
the insurance company a single payment or a series of payments, and the insurance company agrees to pay the annuitant an income, starting immediately or at a later
date, for a specified time period. Under current tax law, money put into an annuity grows on a tax-deferred basis until the annuitant begins receiving his accumulated fund
as an income. That means that one hundred percent of your earnings are reinvested in an annuity and allowed to compound -- or grow -- without having to pay taxes on earnings.
Here are some of the features of an annuity you will want to consider before investing:
- Lifetime Income
- Liquidity In Case Of Emergencies
- No Limit On Contributions
- Death Benefit
- No Load or Fees
- Bonus Rates
- The Strength of the Insurance Company
- The Rate Of Return
- Professional Investment Management
- Investment Choices
- Fixed vs. Variable Rates of Return
- Surrender Charges
Online Insurance Quotes: Tax-Deferred Growth. Money invested in an annuity grows on a tax-deferred basis. Your investment profits are taxed only
when you begin to receive an income from your annuity. All other things being equal, your money will grow faster in a tax-deferred annuity than in a
taxed investment, such as a CD or mutual fund -- thanks to the magic of compounding.
Online Insurance Quotes: Lifetime Income. An annuity can provide you with a guaranteed lifetime income, regardless of how long you live. No other
investment instrument can provide this guarantee.
Online Insurance Quotes: Guarantee of Principal. Some variable annuities guarantee to return at least your ""principal" -- e.g.,., the total payments
you've made, at the time you begin receiving your annuity income. This can be an important feature for people who want some upside potential while minimizing risk.
Online Insurance Quotes: Liquidity In Case Of Emergencies. If you suffer a serious illness (e.g., heart attack, cancer, etc.) some products may allow you
to withdraw up to 25% of your accumulated fund early without paying a surrender penalty. If you are diagnosed as likely to die within 12 months, you
may be allowed to withdraw your entire fund subject to certain limits.
Online Insurance Quotes: No Limit On Contributions. Unlike other tax-advantaged investments, such as IRAs, you can contribute an unlimited
amount of money to an annuity during the year, whether in periodic installments or a lump sum. Individual carriers may place a ceiling on the
total amount you may put into an annuity without approval.
Online Insurance Quotes: Death Benefit. If you die before you begin receiving an income, your beneficiaries could receive a death benefit equal to
the amount of money you've paid into your annuity or its current investment value (which could be less than the amount paidin for some types of annuities).
Online Insurance Quotes: No Load or Fees. Annuities are generally no-load, no-fee investments, which means more of your money is actually invested
than with investments where some money is used to pay an initial or annual charge.
Online Insurance Quotes: Bonus Rates. Some annuities award investors with bonuses -- extra interest that further increases your investment -- at the end
of your annuity's first year . The bonus increases the annuity's principal on which future interest will be calculated in subsequent years, thus providing a
substantial boost to the ultimate value of an annuity fund.
Online Insurance Quotes: The Strength of the Insurance Company. Since an annuity is backed only by the issuing insurance company for many types of products, it is wise to make certain you're dealing with a reputable,
well-known institution before you invest. A company's A.M. Best rating is a good measure of a company's financial strength and stability.
Online Insurance Quotes: The Rate Of Return. Like any investment, annuities offer differing rates of return, some higher than others. Check an annuity's
rate of return before you invest in it.
Online Insurance Quotes: Professional Investment Management. Since your annuity is generally managed by the insurance company's professional
money managers, it's a good idea to scrutinize the company's investment record and credit rating history before investing with them.
Online Insurance Quotes: Investment Choices. Annuity funds can be invested in a variety of different financial instruments, such as money markets,
government securities, mutual funds and stock. Some annuities let you decide how your money will be invested within a range of choices established by the insurance company.
Online Insurance Quotes: Fixed vs. Variable Rates of Return. Fixed-rate annuities offer a guaranteed rate of return, while a variable annuity's rate of
return will vary with the rate of return of the underlying investments Variable-rate annuities offer greater risk and the potential of a higher return
than fixed-rate annuities. (That said, most fixed-rate annuities offer some rate variability and variable-rate annuities may offer a low minimum
guaranteed rate as a hedge against potential losses.)
Online Insurance Quotes: Surrender Charges. You may have to pay the insurance company a "surrender charge" if you withdraw more than the
allowed amount in any year (generally, 10% of the fund's value) during the surrender charge period which is usually seven to ten years from the annuity contract date.
Online Insurance Quotes: How Do Annuities Work?
It's a simple contract: You agree to make a single or a series of payments to
an insurance company which the company invests. In exchange, the company promises to pay you an income starting on a specific date. Most people begin
receiving annuity income when they retire and continue receiving it for the rest of their life.
The money you invest in an annuity grows on a tax-deferred basis. Your
annuity income is taxed as normal income when you begin receiving it (though no income tax is paid on that portion of the income that represents
the money you originally paid in to your annuity). Since most people receive annuity income after they retire when they may be in a lower tax bracket,
they generally pay less tax on annuity income than on income they earn while working full time.
Online Insurance Quotes: How Do Annuities Differ From Life Insurance?
Life insurance pays your family cash benefits when you die. Annuities typically
begin paying you an income when you retire and may continue paying you an income for as long as you live. (Most annuities stop paying money when you
die; though some annuities can continue paying money to your family after your death if you select that option.)