Are Annuities Safe?

Shawn Plummer, CRPC

Chartered Retirement Planning Counselor

Are Annuities Safe?

Annuities can be a safe investment, but their risk level largely depends on the type of annuity and the financial stability of the issuing insurance company.

Here’s a breakdown of different annuity types and their safety levels:

  1. Multi-Year Guaranteed Annuities (MYGAs): MYGAs are generally considered safe. They offer a fixed interest rate for a specified term, similar to a CD. The risk is low, and they provide predictable returns.
  2. Fixed-Indexed Annuities: FIAs are relatively safe as well. Your principal is typically protected from market losses, and returns are linked to a market index, offering a balance between safety and potential for growth.
  3. Variable Annuities: Variable annuities carry more risk compared to MYGAs and fixed-indexed annuities. Their performance is tied to investment options like mutual funds, so they carry market risk. Your returns can fluctuate based on the underlying investments.
  4. Registered Index-Linked Annuities (RILAs): RILAs carry more risk as they are tied to the performance of market indexes. While they offer some protection against loss, they still expose you to market volatility.
  5. Single Premium Immediate Annuities (SPIAs): With SPIAs, safety is a concern in terms of liquidity. You exchange a lump sum for guaranteed income, but this means relinquishing control over your asset. If you need access to the funds in an emergency, you might be stuck, as SPIAs typically don’t allow withdrawals.

The financial strength of the insurance company is crucial in all types. A financially stable company is more likely to fulfill its obligations. It’s important to research and understand the terms and conditions of any annuity before investing.

Safe Annuity

Comparison of Annuity Risk And Safety

Annuity TypeSafety LevelKey Features
Multi-Year GuaranteedHighFixed interest rate, low risk, predictable returns
Fixed-IndexedHighPrincipal protection, linked to market index
VariableMediumTied to mutual funds, subject to market risk
Registered Index-LinkedMediumExposure to market indexes, some loss protection
Single Premium ImmediateLowNo liquidity, income in exchange for a lump sum

Understanding the Risks of Annuities

While annuities are generally considered safe, it’s important to understand that they do come with certain risks. These risks should be carefully considered before investing in an annuity:

Credit Risk

Credit risk refers to the potential insolvency of the insurance company that issues the annuity. In the event that the company becomes insolvent, there is a risk that you may not receive the full amount of your annuity payments. It is important to choose an insurance company with a strong financial standing to minimize this risk.

Purchasing Power Risk

Purchasing power risk arises when inflation exceeds the annuity’s guaranteed rate of return. Inflation erodes the value of money over time, and if the annuity’s returns do not keep up with inflation, there is a risk that the purchasing power of your annuity payments may decrease over the long term.

Liquidity Risk

Liquidity risk is a potential downside of annuities, as funds invested in an annuity may be tied up for a long period of time with limited access. While annuities provide a steady and reliable income stream, they may not be suitable for individuals who require immediate access to their funds.

Surrender Risk

Surrender risk involves penalties for early withdrawals from an annuity. If you need to access your funds before the specified surrender period, you may be subject to surrender charges, which can significantly impact the value of your investment.

To manage these risks, it is advisable to diversify your investments and consider other options that offer greater flexibility and liquidity. While annuities can provide a secure source of income, it is important to fully understand the risks involved and consult with a financial advisor who can help you determine if an annuity is the right investment choice for your specific needs.

Safest Annuity

Financial Strength Ratings Of Annuities

One way to assess the financial strength of an insurance company is to look at its financial strength ratings. These ratings are assigned by independent credit rating agencies, such as Standard & Poor’s, Moody’s, and A.M. Best, among others. The ratings provide an evaluation of the insurer’s ability to fulfill its financial commitments, including the payment of annuity benefits.

Insurance companies with higher financial strength ratings are considered more stable and reliable. They have a stronger ability to weather economic downturns and honor their annuity obligations even in challenging times. It is recommended to choose an annuity provider with high ratings from reputable credit agencies to ensure the safety of your investment.

State Guaranty Associations

In addition to the regulations imposed by states, there are state guaranty associations that provide a safety net for annuity holders. These associations are established to protect policyholders in the event of an insurance company’s insolvency.

State guaranty associations typically provide coverage up to certain statutory limits, which vary by state. The coverage limit can range from $100,000 to $500,000, or even higher in some states. This means that if an insurance company becomes insolvent, the guaranty association will step in and cover the annuity claims up to the specified limit.

It’s important to note that the coverage provided by state guaranty associations applies to both fixed and variable annuities. However, it’s crucial to be aware that the coverage does have limitations, and amounts exceeding the statutory limit may not be fully reimbursed. therefore, researching the coverage limits in your state and choosing an insurer with a higher coverage limit can provide an additional layer of protection for your annuity investment.

Are Annuities 100% Safe?

No, annuities are not 100% safe. While they are considered relatively safe compared to other investments, several factors contribute to their risk.

Types Of Annuities And Associated Risks

  1. Fixed Annuities:
    • Interest Rate Risk: Fixed annuities have a set interest rate, which can become less competitive if market rates rise.
    • Inflation Risk: The fixed payments may lose purchasing power over time due to inflation.
  2. Variable Annuities:
    • Market Risk: The value of investments in a variable annuity can fluctuate, leading to potential losses.
    • Performance Risk: Returns depend on the performance of chosen investment options.
  3. Indexed Annuities:
    • Cap Rate Risk: Earnings in an indexed annuity are subject to a cap rate, limiting potential gains in a high-performing market.
    • Participation Rate Risk: The insurer decides what percentage of the index gain will be credited.
  4. Immediate Annuities:
    • Liquidity Risk: Once you invest in an immediate annuity, accessing your capital can be difficult or expensive.
    • Longevity Risk: Payments might end if the annuitant dies soon after purchase.

Are Annuities Safer Than Bonds?

  1. Risk Factor
    • Annuities: Generally lower risk as they offer guaranteed income. However, the safety of annuities depends on the insurance company’s financial stability.
    • Bonds: Risk varies. Government bonds are usually safer, while corporate bonds can be riskier.
  2. Return on Investment
    • Annuities: Fixed annuities offer stable returns, but variable annuities depend on market performance.
    • Bonds: Typically offer lower returns than stocks but more than savings accounts. Riskier bonds can offer higher returns.
  3. Impact of Market Fluctuations
    • Annuities: Less affected by market changes, especially fixed annuities.
    • Bonds: Market fluctuations can affect bond prices and interest rates.

Comparison Table

Risk LevelLow (especially fixed)Varies (low for gov. bonds)
Return PotentialStable (fixed) or variableGenerally steady
Market SensitivityLowModerate to high
SuitabilityRetirement incomeIncome & growth
DependenceInsurer’s stabilityMarket & issuer’s credit

Are Annuities Safer Than The Stock Market?

Annuity TypeComparison with Stock MarketSafety Level
Fixed AnnuitiesMuch saferHigh
Fixed Indexed AnnuitiesSaferModerate to High
Multi-Year Guaranteed AnnuitiesMuch saferHigh
Variable Annuities (with living benefits)Slightly saferModerate
RILA Annuities (with living benefits)Slightly saferModerate

Are Annuities Safe In A Market Crash?

Annuity TypeLink to Stock MarketRisk in Market CrashStability
Fixed AnnuityNoneLowHigh
Fixed-Indexed AnnuityPartialModerateModerate
Variable AnnuityHighHighLow
RILA AnnuityHighHighLow

Are Annuities Safe In A Recession?

Annuity TypeSafety in RecessionCharacteristics
Fixed AnnuityHighStable returns, immune to market fluctuations
Fixed IndexedModerate-HighLinked to indexes, have protective floors
Variable AnnuityLowDirectly tied to the market, higher risk, and growth
RILAModeratePartial market exposure, some protective traits


Annuities can be a safe investment, depending on the type and the insurer’s financial strength. MYGAs and fixed-indexed annuities offer higher safety and predictability, while variable and RILA annuities present more risk due to market exposure. SPIAs, though providing guaranteed income, lack flexibility and liquidity. Thorough research and understanding of each type’s features and risks are essential before investing. Contact us today for a free quote.

Are Annuity Safe In A Recession

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Frequently Asked Questions

Are annuities safer investments than stocks or bonds?

Annuities are generally considered a safe investment option, with the primary risk being outliving your income stream. Annuity contracts typically contain guarantees such as an annual minimum return and death benefit to help protect against market losses and longevity risk. This provides investors with some reassurance should their annuity experience a loss or if they outlive their income stream.

What investments are safer than annuities?

Cash and savings accounts are typically considered the safest investments because they involve no risk of loss. Savings accounts offer a guaranteed rate of return backed by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC). CDs, Treasury bills, and other government-issued securities can also be safe options as the full faith and credit of the U.S. government back their principal values. However, these investments may not offer the highest returns as they are generally low-risk, low-return investments.

Are annuities the best investment mix of safety and return?

It depends on the individual investor and their financial goals. Annuities can provide a good balance of safety and return for investors concerned about outliving their income stream, as they offer longevity protection and some principal guarantee in the event of market losses. On the other hand, some annuities have high fees that may limit returns over time. Consequently, investors must understand the features and risks associated with annuities before investing. The right investment mix for an individual will depend on their specific goals and risk tolerance. Consulting with a financial advisor can help you determine the best mix of safety and return for your needs.

What is an annuity safe?

An annuity safe refers to a financial product designed to provide a steady income stream during retirement. These annuities are considered safe because they offer guarantees on the principal and a fixed rate of return, protecting individuals against market fluctuations and ensuring a reliable source of income.

Are annuities a good investment in 2023?

While annuities can be a good investment in certain situations, it’s essential to assess individual needs and goals before making a decision. Factors like risk tolerance, retirement plans, and financial stability should be considered. Consulting with a financial advisor can provide personalized guidance on whether annuities are a suitable investment in 2023.

Shawn Plummer, CRPC

Chartered Retirement Planning Counselor

Shawn Plummer is a Chartered Retirement Planning Counselor, insurance agent, and annuity broker with over 14 years of first-hand experience with annuities and insurance. Since beginning his journey in 2009, he has been pivotal in selling and educating about annuities and insurance products. Still, he has also played an instrumental role in training financial advisors for a prestigious Fortune Global 500 insurance company, Allianz. His insights and expertise have made him a sought-after voice in the industry, leading to features in renowned publications such as Time Magazine, Bloomberg, Entrepreneur, Yahoo! Finance, MSN, SmartAsset, The Simple Dollar, U.S. News and World Report, Women’s Health Magazine, and many more. Shawn’s driving ambition? To simplify retirement planning, he ensures his clients understand their choices and secure the best insurance coverage at unbeatable rates.

The Annuity Expert is an independent online insurance agency servicing consumers across the United States. The goal is to help you take the guesswork out of retirement planning and find the best insurance coverage at the cheapest rates

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