Variable Annuity Definition
Variable annuity is a contract between a person and the insurance company and also serves as a tax saving investment with the insurer which has multiple benefits with regards to the periodic payments at the time of retirement and also the death benefit to the beneficiary in case the person dies before the expiry of the contract.
The investment option for the variable annuities is typically mutual funds that in turn invest in the equity markets thereby providing higher returns to the investors as compared to the fixed annuity plans.
- It can be availed either by doing a lump sum payment or a series of payments over the years.
- This is different from a fixed annuity which promises fixed payments to the investor holding the instrument at the time of retirement and thereafter.
- It offers a range of options to the investor to select the strategy of investment and accordingly the value of the contract also changes depending upon the risk of the investor.
- The three main important features of a variable annuity are the insurance benefit, tax savings for the investor and the periodic income stream that gets generated.
How does Variable Annuity Work?
Let’s assume that a person wants to invest $10,000 in a variable annuity with the insurance company. In this case, the company will offer the investor the plans/strategies which are used to invest the client’s money. Some plans may invest 70% of the funds into equity and 30% into debt while some may invest 50% into equity, 30% into debt and 20% into mutual funds. The investor needs to select the plan and accordingly the value would be decided depending upon the risk appetite of the fund. Since it is a variable annuity plan, the value of the investment may vary on a daily basis.
Suppose a person invests $10,000 in a variable annuity plan which invests 50% into debt and balances 50% into equities. The debt investment provides a return of 10% whereas the equity investment provides a return of 15%. In this case, the investment portfolio of the investor would be valued at $12,500 due to the upside in the instruments. This gives the investor the returns which are higher than the fixed instrument provided by the fixed annuity plans which generally are equal to the fixed deposit rate provided by the banks and financial institutions.
Variable Annuity Fees
They refer to the fees and expenses set up by the regulators in the interest of the investors and the fund as well. In the case of a variable annuity plan, who has an expense ratio and a surrender charge of 5% for pre-mature withdrawals will take down the value of the investment.
Eg: Mr.A has invested $10,000 in a variable annuity with an insurance company. The surrender charge is 5% after 1 year. If the person tries to withdraw all the money after one year, $10,000*5% = $500 would be deducted from his payout and he will be remitted a sum of $9,500 only into his account.
- Fees can also be in the form of expenses charged by the regulators and also the other charges which may in the form of AMC charges, fund expenses, etc.
- The insurer may also deduct the administration charges of the fund in order to run the fund smoothly.
- The most common benefit is the death benefit facility which provides the beneficiary the sum after the death of the primary applicant.
- Secondly, a minimum guaranteed amount which refers to the total investment minus the withdrawals is given to the beneficiary even if the investment value is lower than the purchase cost of the investor.
- Lastly, it gives the risk-taking investor the opportunity to take part in a variable annuity scheme which not only provides the insurance cover to the investor but also provides him with the chance to earn money with the help of different products in the investment portfolio or the account maintained with the insurer.
- The major disadvantage is the death of the investor since the insurer will have to give to the beneficiary of the insurer the guaranteed minimum amount even if the total investment made in the account is more than the market value.
Variable annuity is an investment concept, as the name suggests it is variable in nature unlike fixed annuities where the returns are guaranteed but in this type of investment, there can be superior returns as well as the investment can become nil due to risk exposure to instruments in the financial markets.
This has been a guide to Variable Annuity and its definition. Here we discuss types of annuities along with examples, its fees, advantages, and disadvantages. You may learn more about financing from the following articles –