Why Do Annuities Have a Bad Reputation?

Shawn Plummer

CEO, The Annuity Expert

Annuities historically gained a bad reputation due to several key reasons

  1. Lack of Control and Liquidity: Initially, annuities required investors to give up control over their money, often locking it in without easy access. This lack of liquidity was a significant drawback for many, particularly in cases of financial emergency.
  2. High Commissions and Sales-Driven Approach: High commissions for brokers and sales agents were common, leading to a perception that annuities were being sold for the benefit of the salesperson rather than the investor.
  3. Long-term Commitments: Early annuity products often involved long-term commitments, which could be seen as a disadvantage, especially if financial circumstances changed.
  4. Hidden Fees and Charges: The presence of hidden fees and charges in some annuity products led to mistrust. Investors found themselves paying more than they anticipated.

However, the annuity landscape has evolved significantly

  • Improved Liquidity: Modern annuities often offer greater liquidity options, including the ability to cancel contracts under certain conditions. This flexibility is a marked improvement over older products.
  • Transparency in Fees and Charges: There is now more emphasis on transparency, with all fees and charges typically disclosed upfront. This change helps investors make more informed decisions.
  • Shorter Commitment Periods: While still long-term, contemporary annuities usually have shorter commitment periods compared to their predecessors, offering more flexibility to investors.

Despite these improvements, the lingering negative perception from past issues can still impact the reputation of annuities. It’s essential for potential investors to carefully evaluate current annuity products, considering both their evolved features and historical context.

Related Tools: Annuity Calculator

Comparison of Old vs. New Annuity Features

FeaturePast AnnuitiesCurrent Annuities
LiquidityLimited/NoneImproved, with cancellation options
CommissionsHighReduced/More Regulated
Commitment PeriodVery Long-termShorter-term
Fee TransparencyHidden FeesTransparent Fees


The reputation of annuities has been shaped by their historical drawbacks, including lack of liquidity, high commissions, long-term commitments, and hidden fees. Modern annuities have addressed many of these issues, offering more flexibility, transparency, and shorter commitment periods. Understanding these changes is crucial for a well-informed investment decision. Contact us today for a free quote.

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Shawn Plummer

CEO, The Annuity Expert

Shawn Plummer is a licensed financial professional, 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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