Buffer Annuities

Shawn Plummer

CEO, The Annuity Expert

This guide delves into the nitty-gritty of buffer annuities, explaining how they function, their potential benefits, and considerations before you invest. Strap in as we navigate the roads of buffered annuities to empower you with a deeper understanding and enable you to make an informed investment decision.

What Is A Buffer Annuity?

A buffer annuity is an indexed annuity that offers an opportunity for growth based on the performance of a stock market index, such as the S&P 500. But what sets buffer annuities apart? Well, it’s their unique protective ‘buffer’ feature.

The Protective ‘Buffer’

The ‘buffer’ in a buffer annuity is a safety net, absorbing a predetermined amount of losses if the market index performs poorly. For example, if you have a buffer of 10%, the annuity will cover the first 10% of any market loss. Anything beyond that threshold would impact the investment. This protective feature protects against the market’s volatility, lending buffer annuities their name.

Buffer Annuities

The Benefits of Buffer Annuities

Investing in buffer annuities can bring several advantages, from offering protection against market downturns to providing potential for moderate growth.

Mitigating Market Volatility

As we’ve already hinted, buffer annuities help cushion your investment against market volatility. This can be particularly valuable during financial uncertainty or rough market conditions.

Potential for Growth

Unlike fixed annuities that provide a set return, buffer annuities offer a possibility for growth linked to a market index’s positive performance. This allows investors to benefit from the market’s gains, amplifying their investment’s potential growth.

 Buffer Annuity

Considerations Before Investing in Buffered Annuities

While buffered annuities have their benefits, they also come with considerations. Understanding these points is vital before deciding to invest in a buffered annuity.

Limit on Upside Potential

While buffer annuities offer potential for growth, it’s important to note that they typically cap the amount of return you can receive from a market upswing, often referred to as a ‘cap rate.

Example: If the index soars by 15%, your growth will still be limited to 8% due to the cap rate. That means you wouldn’t fully benefit from the index’s high performance.

Not Fully Insulated from Losses

Despite the ‘buffer,’ you’re not entirely insulated from losses. The excess loss will reduce your account value if the market falls more than the buffer percentage.

Example: In a drastic downturn where the market falls by 25%, your buffer will only cover the first 10%. Thus, you would still bear a loss of 15% ($15,000) on your initial investment.

Buffered Annuities

Surrender Charges and Access to Funds

Like many annuities, buffer annuities often come with surrender charges if you withdraw funds early. They also may limit the amount you can withdraw each year without penalty.

Example: If you decide to withdraw $20,000 from your annuity three years into the contract, you might incur a surrender charge. For instance, if your annuity has a 7% surrender charge, you’d lose $1,400 from the withdrawal amount.

Next Steps

Buffer annuities are an intriguing tool in the financial landscape, presenting a unique blend of potential market-linked growth and some insulation from market volatility. However, they’re not a one-size-fits-all solution and require careful consideration before investing. Understanding their mechanics, benefits, and potential drawbacks can help you discern whether a buffer annuity fits into your financial plan. Armed with this knowledge, you’re now equipped to have a meaningful discussion with your adviser and make an informed decision.

Buffered Annuity

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What are the downsides of buffer annuities?

The main downside of buffer annuities is their cost. Buffer annuities require a significant up-front investment, making them more expensive than traditional fixed or variable annuities.

How much losses will a buffer annuity cover?

Buffer annuities protect against market losses up to the buffer amount, typically 10-20% of invested assets. The buffer annuity policy will not cover any losses beyond this level. In addition, some policies may not cover certain types of investments, such as commodities or alternative asset classes.

Are buffer annuities a fixed or variable return?

Buffer annuities are a form of variable annuity, meaning the return will depend on the performance of the underlying investments. This means that returns may be lower than those from fixed annuities, though they protect against significant losses.

Shawn Plummer

CEO, The Annuity Expert

Shawn Plummer is a licensed insurance agent and annuity broker with over a decade of first-hand experience. 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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