If you want to participate in the potentially attractive returns of a market-driven investment but would also like a guaranteed return, an indexed annuity might be worth checking out.
The performance of indexed annuities, also referred to as equity-indexed or fixed-indexed annuities, are tied to an index (for example, the Standard & Poor's 500*). They provide investors with an opportunity to earn interest based on the performance of the index. If the index rises during a specified period in the accumulation phase, the investor participates in the gain. In the event that the market falls and the index posts a loss, the contract value is not affected. The annuity also has a guaranteed minimum rate of return, which is contingent on holding the indexed annuity until the end of the term.
This guaranteed minimum return comes at a price. The percentage of an index's gain that investors receive is called the participation rate. The participation rate of an indexed annuity can be anywhere from 50 percent to 100 percent. A participation rate of 80 percent, for example, and a 10 percent gain by the index would result in an 8 percent gain by the investor. Some indexed annuities have a cap rate, the maximum rate of interest the annuity will earn, which could potentially lower an investor's gain.
- Written by Charles Sims Jr.