A Guide to Fixed Annuity 101
Those new to the world of finance and considering retirement can be overwhelmed with all the new terms and information available. In this article, we give you a 101 guide to fixed annuities to help you understand everything you need to know about them.
What is a fixed annuity?
A fixed annuity is basically an insurance contract that promises to pay out to the purchaser. They guarantee a specific interest rate based on the buyer’s contributions to the account. Simply put, the buyer gives a lump sum or makes a series of payments over time to an insurance company. In return, the buyer receives a fixed income throughout retirement.
Fixed annuities are often used in retirement planning, although slightly different from a 401k or a Roth IRA. 401ks offer no initial tax relief, although it does reward investors with tax-free retirement withdrawals. This means you never pay taxes on the money you earn with these accounts, but you can’t touch the account until you reach a certain age. Annuities, on the other hand, are tax-deferred.
So you only pay taxes when you receive annuity payments. However, annuities provide guaranteed income during retirement, while a 401k is just a lump sum.
How does a fixed annuity work?
Most people who buy annuities will buy it through a large payment, but others will buy it through payments over time. Once the annuity is purchased, the insurance company guarantees that the account will earn a certain amount of interest. After the purchase and interest begins to accrue, the purchaser, or annuitant, enters the accumulation phase.
The insurance company will calculate these payments based on the amount of the account itself, the age of the owner, and a handful of other factors. During this phase, the account will grow tax-deferred. Taxes on the contract will be based on an exclusion rate.
An exclusion rate is simply the ratio of the account holder’s payments to the amount accumulated in the account. This is then based on the interest earnings earned during the accumulation phase. Aggregate earnings will eventually be taxed, but only when the annuitant receives payment.
After that, the insurance company will use the annuitant’s money and invest it in various places.
Once the money is accumulated, the payment phase begins. The payout phase will continue for a number of years or for the rest of the Annuitant’s life. This is usually agreed before the purchase of the annuity.
What are the different types of annuities?
There are two main types of fixed annuities: life annuities and fixed term annuities. A life annuity is an insurance product with fixed payments at regular intervals. You will define when these payments will take place. The central aspect of life annuities is that they last until the death of the person purchasing the annuity. A life annuity will pay you a guaranteed income, not indexed to inflation. In addition, when a life annuity is decreed, it is not revocable.
A fixed term annuity is essentially the same thing, but there is a fixed end date in the contract. Certain annuities generally offer larger payouts than a life annuity. Since it pays over a specific period of time rather than until the death of the annuitant, the insurer runs less risk. If the annuitant dies before the end of the period, the beneficiary will receive the payments.
Annuitants can benefit from these contracts in several ways.
Predictable returns on investment
Fixed immediate annuities are generally very safe and secure. Your money is not really moved between the different functions of the market. Fixed annuity rates are generally derived from the return generated by the insurance company. Insurance companies typically invest in high quality corporate and government bonds. These are relatively safe for the company, and they are then responsible for reimbursing the annuitant at the rate of the annuity contract.
To calculate the yield of a fixed immediate annuity, there is a simple equation. You take the total amount you put into the annuity and divide it by the number of months remaining. This would be the contract end date or your calculated life expectancy. The number you get will be your monthly income amount. If it’s confusing, here’s an example
If you are a 65-year-old male and have around $100,000 to invest, you will receive a base of $259.20 per month. You will start receiving these payments the month after the annuity begins, usually for the rest of your life. We get this number by multiplying the approximately 21 years remaining in the expected life of a 65-year-old male by 12. 12 represents the number of payments per year you will receive monthly.
Variable immediate annuities are a little different from fixed ones. Since the money you invest goes into different parts of the market, inflation will be a factor. However, it should not go further than the base amount, such as $259.20 in the previous example.
For all types of fixed annuities, the growth of the money invested is tax-deferred. Annuities themselves can be purchased with pre-tax income or money that has already been taxed. The type of income, pre-tax or after-tax, will determine whether or not it qualifies for tax-deferred status. Annuities purchased with money already taxed are not eligible for tax-deferred status.
These are usually purchased at retirement or towards the end of the annuitant’s working life. The great thing is that you will get tax-free growth on the money invested. Also, the tax is deferred until the money is paid out.
The advantage of annuities is that you will have a guaranteed income. Moreover, these regular and predictable payments occur regardless of market fluctuations.
How are annuity rates set?
Insurance companies that typically sell annuities will determine the rate of growth. The annuity contract will contain these details. Pricing will naturally vary from company to company. Typically, the company takes a consumer’s premium and bundles it with all other premiums received. Then they will usually buy bonds that guarantee the return.
From there, they can offer the consumer a rate or purchase options for increased potential. Of course, different companies will play their cards differently, so you’ll see some things vary within each company.
Best rates today
Multi-year guaranteed annuities are fixed annuities that guarantee a fixed interest rate. This rate is specified for a certain period of time, usually three to ten years. As from October 2021the best multi-year guaranteed annuity rates are 3.05% for ten years and 2.95% for seven or five years.
The best rate for a three-year period is 2.35%, while 2.15% is the best for a two-year period. These rates change more often than you might think, so be sure to stay up to date with the latest information. At Due you have the 3% guarantee and that does not change.
Various companies will use pricing levers as part of the credit method. The first is the participation rate. The participation rate is a percentage by which the insurer multiplies the variation of an index during the term of the contract. This percentage helps them determine the amount of interest they will credit to an indexed annuity contract.
Next comes the interest rate ceiling. Again, the annuity provider sets these, being the growth limit. Finally, the interest rate floor is the minimum interest rate that is credited to an annuity’s underlying investment portfolio.
Unfortunately, when the annuitant dies, the beneficiary will have to pay exorbitant taxes on the investment earnings. In addition, beneficiaries will not have tax-exempt status on the annuities they inherit. If you are thinking of obtaining an annuity, consult a specialist.
Guaranteed returns are an important part of fixed annuities. However, they are usually very weak. Sometimes you can produce higher returns by building a safe bond portfolio. Additionally, many insurance companies will use “advertisement rates” in their contracts. This basically means that they will guarantee a certain return for a certain period of time. However, they will reduce this after a few years. This reduction will therefore reduce your yields.
Additionally, other fees such as redemption fees, M&E fees, and commissions are present.
We couldn’t talk to you about fixed annuities if we didn’t talk about the loss of flexibility. All annuities will have an accumulation period and a withdrawal period. You will have some flexibility when you are in the accumulation period. You can surrender the policy and withdraw the balance in an emergency, although some fees and penalties may be involved.
However, once you start the withdrawal period, you don’t get the same flexibility. You will receive your payments, but you cannot get all your money in an emergency. At this point, the insurance company owns your investment and you own the income stream.
Fixed annuities are great, but they’re not perfect. So be aware of the downsides and play your cards accordingly.
How to get a fixed annuity?
There are several places to buy a fixed annuity. Annuity providers include insurance companies, independent brokers, mutual fund companies, and much more.
At Due.com, we can help you prepare for your retirement and plan your pensions. We already have over 12,000 registered users and have helped save over $240 million in retirement.
The average retirement income of our users is $2100 per month. So you control how much money you have in retirement, and we’ll help you every step of the way.