There are two main types of annuity – fixed annuity and Variable Annuity. Within these two types, there are different products, and different bells and whistles that can be added to different annuities to make them work best for you. The fact is that there are several different options when it comes to annuities – so it is extremely important to explore the open market and make a thoroughly researched decision. After all, an annuity, whether it is fixed or variable, cannot be changed or cancelled once purchased.
So let us look at the two main types of annuity. A fixed annuity is where the income you receive remains fixed and level throughout the term of the annuity. A fixed annuity is also known as a level annuity because the income remains level. The term of the annuity depends on the type of annuity it is. A lifelong fixed annuity will pay a fixed regular and guaranteed income for as long as you live.
A fixed term annuity will pay a fixed, regular, and guaranteed income for a fixed period of time. This is a pre-agreed period, and the annuity can continue to pay your partner or beneficiaries for the fixed period even if you die within the term of the annuity.
A variable annuity is one where the annuity income is not fixed and can vary through the term of the annuity. For instance, an investment linked annuity is a variable annuity, where the annuity is linked to an external investment such as in stocks or shares. The income you receive from this annuity depends on the performance of the investment – so it could be much higher than a conventional annuity if the investment performs well over time; but similarly, it could also be lower than a conventional annuity.
There is also the risk that you may end up losing the amount you invested in the annuity in the first place. This is a risk that is inherent in this type of investments. Other types of variable annuity include escalating annuity or inflation linked annuity.
An escalating annuity is where income increases by a fixed percentage each year. Although you receive a higher amount in the later stages of the annuity, the income during the outset is generally lower than a conventional annuity, all other things being equal. The risk with this type of annuity is that you really benefit from the increase only at a later stage, and have to compromise during the early stages of the annuity.
A variable annuity could work for you depending on your individual circumstances and your priorities. On the other hand, if you prefer to have a guaranteed fixed income, rather than worry about inflation indices and external investments, then a conventional level annuity may suit you best. It is important to note that there are risks associated with a variable annuity that do not exist with a simple level annuity. If you are not sure about which annuity may suit you, always consult a professional advisor who can give you impartial and expert advice on the matter.