How Indexed Annuities Work

Shawn Plummer, CRPC

Chartered Retirement Planning Counselor

Introduction To Indexed Annuities

Indexed annuities, also known as fixed index annuities, are financial products designed to provide a balance between growth potential and principal protection. They offer interest based on the performance of a market index, such as the S&P 500, without directly investing in the market. This guide explores their features, benefits, and considerations.

How Indexed Annuities Work

Interest Credits

Interest earned on an indexed annuity is linked to a specific market index. Key components include:

  • Participation Rate: Percentage of the index gain credited to your annuity.
  • Cap Rate: The maximum interest rate that can be credited.
  • Floor: Minimum interest rate, often set at 0%, ensuring no loss of principal.

Contract Terms

Indexed annuities have various contract terms, typically ranging from 5 to 10 years. Early withdrawals may incur surrender charges, and any withdrawals before age 59½ could be subject to IRS penalties.

Indexed Annuity

Types Of Indexed Annuities

Equity-Indexed Annuities

Equity-indexed annuities (EIAs) link interest earned to a stock market index performance, offering a minimum guaranteed interest rate and higher return potential based on index performance.

Fixed-Indexed Annuities

Fixed-indexed annuities (FIAs) offer a guaranteed minimum return and link interest to an index, providing principal protection even if the market performs poorly.

Registered Index-Linked Annuities (RILAs)

Registered index-linked annuities (RILAs) provide partial protection against market losses with higher upside potential than traditional FIAs, allowing you to choose a level of downside protection.

Pros And Cons Of Indexed Annuities

Indexed annuities come with several benefits and some drawbacks:


Principal Protection: Your investment is safe even if the market performs poorly.

Growth Potential: Enjoy higher returns compared to traditional fixed annuities due to market index linkage.

Tax-Deferred Growth: Earnings grow tax-deferred, enhancing long-term growth potential.


Capped Returns: Cap rates may limit your maximum returns.

Complexity: Understanding participation rates, spreads, and caps can be challenging.

Fees and Surrender Charges: Higher fees and potential charges for early withdrawals.

Index Annuity

How We Can Help

At The Annuity Expert, we understand the challenges you face when planning for retirement. Our 15 years of experience as an insurance agency, annuity broker, and retirement planner enable us to guide you toward the best solutions at the lowest costs.

We believe in finding the best solution at the lowest cost for our clients. Your primary concern is likely ensuring a secure, comfortable retirement without worrying about market volatility or losing your hard-earned savings. You may have experienced confusion and frustration with complex financial products, and we are here to simplify this process for you.

We recognize the symptoms of this problem: anxiety about market downturns, uncertainty about the future, and a desire for reliable growth. These feelings can be overwhelming, but with our expertise, you can achieve peace of mind and financial stability.

What We Recommend

  • Step 1: Initial Consultation Schedule a free consultation with our experts. During this session, we will assess your financial goals, risk tolerance, and retirement timeline. The main benefit is understanding your needs clearly and how indexed annuities can fit into your retirement strategy.
  • Step 2: Personalized Plan Development Based on your consultation, we will develop a tailored retirement plan that includes your best-indexed annuity options. This step involves comparing various annuities, explaining their features, and selecting the one that aligns with your objectives. The main benefit is a customized plan designed to maximize your retirement benefits.
  • Step 3: Implementation and Ongoing Support We will assist you in implementing your retirement plan and provide ongoing support to ensure it remains aligned with your goals. This includes regular reviews and adjustments as needed. The main benefit is continuous peace of mind, knowing your retirement plan is monitored and optimized for success.

Features and Benefits

  • Expert Guidance: We provide personalized advice based on years of experience, ensuring you make informed decisions.
  • Tailored Solutions: Custom retirement plans that match your specific needs and goals.
  • Ongoing Support: Continuous monitoring and adjustments to your plan, ensuring it stays on track.

You might be concerned about fees or the complexity of indexed annuities. We address these by providing transparent information and detailed explanations so you understand exactly what you’re investing in and why it’s beneficial.

Without our guidance, you might choose products that don’t fully protect your principal or optimize your growth potential, leading to unnecessary stress and financial instability.

By partnering with The Annuity Expert, you’ll experience financial security, confidence in your retirement plan, and the satisfaction of knowing your investments are well-managed. You’ll feel reassured, supported, and empowered to enjoy a comfortable retirement.

Contact us today for free advice or a quote. Our experts are here to help you achieve your retirement goals with confidence and peace of mind.

What Is An Indexed Annuity?

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Questions From Our Readers

Do you pay taxes on index annuity?

According to current federal income tax law, the interest you earn on your indexed annuity is not subject to taxes immediately. You will only need to pay ordinary income taxes on any taxable amount once you start receiving payments from the contract.

Can you withdraw from an indexed annuity?

You can withdraw funds from an annuity before it’s turned into periodic payments, but you may have to pay a surrender charge if you withdraw before the agreed term. However, you usually won’t be charged a penalty for withdrawing after the term ends.

How do index annuities make money?

Indexed annuities allow your money to earn interest based on positive changes to an external index like the S&P 500 over a predetermined time frame. If the index increases, you’ll receive a percentage of the gains. If the index decreases, it won’t affect your contract value, including any interest you previously earned.

Can you terminate your indexed annuity prematurely?

Yes, you can terminate an indexed annuity prematurely, but this usually involves surrender charges. These charges can be significant, especially in the early years of the annuity contract. The surrender period and the amount of the charges vary depending on the terms of your specific annuity contract.

Are indexed annuities insured?

Indexed annuities are not insured by the FDIC or any federal agency. However, they are backed by the financial strength and claims-paying ability of the issuing insurance company. State guaranty associations may offer limited protection if the insurer fails.

For most indexed annuities, what is the specified floor?

The specified floor for most indexed annuities is typically 0%. This means that even if the linked market index performs negatively, the worst-case scenario is that no interest is credited, but your principal remains protected.

What is the average rate of return on indexed annuities?

The average rate of return on indexed annuities generally ranges between 3% to 7% per year, depending on the specific product features, market performance, and caps applied by the issuing company.

What is declared rate allocation?

Declared rate allocation in indexed annuities refers to a fixed interest rate declared by the insurance company, credited to the annuity regardless of index performance. This rate is usually set annually and provides a guaranteed return within the annuity contract.

What is the daily interest account in an indexed annuity?

The daily interest account in an indexed annuity is an option where interest is credited to the annuity daily rather than periodically. This method can provide more consistent and predictable growth as it smooths out fluctuations in index performance over time.

How does an indexed annuity differ from a fixed annuity?

Indexed annuities differ from fixed annuities in that their returns are tied to a market index, offering higher potential returns with some risk, while fixed annuities provide a guaranteed interest rate, ensuring predictable and stable growth.

Do index annuities have death benefits?

Yes, index annuities often include death benefits, providing a payout to beneficiaries in a lump sum if the annuity holder passes away.

Why are index annuities a good investment? 

Index annuities are a good investment because they offer the potential for growth linked to a stock market index while protecting the principal from market downturns or a guaranteed interest rate. They also provide tax-deferred growth, guaranteed minimum returns, and optional benefits like lifetime income and death benefits.

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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