Lose Money With Annuities

Introduction: Do Annuities Ever Lose Money?

The Role and Risks Of Annuities In Retirement Planning

When it comes to planning for retirement, one of the main concerns for many individuals is the fear of running out of money. This is where annuities come in – they are financial products that were created to address this concern by providing a guaranteed return of principal or a guaranteed income stream. With this in mind, it’s natural to wonder – can you actually lose money investing in an annuity?

The answer is yes, it is possible to lose money in an annuity. However, the risk of losing money depends on the type of annuity you choose and the specific terms and conditions of the annuity contract.

In exchange for this security, annuity holders must abide by certain rules regarding when payments can begin, how much can be withdrawn annually, and the conditions under which the principal can be withdrawn without penalty.

However, it’s important to note that annuities are not primarily designed as high-growth investment products. Instead, they are meant to serve as insurance against outliving one’s income.

Types Of Annuities:

  • Fixed Annuities: Safety and Guarantees
  • Variable Annuities: Risks and Potential Losses

There are two main categories of annuities: fixed and variable. Each type offers varying levels of risk and potential reward, and it’s important to understand the differences between the two in order to make an informed decision.

Fixed annuities, including traditional fixed, indexed, and immediate annuities, guarantee that the principal and any accumulated interest cannot be lost. This is because the interest rate on a fixed annuity is determined at the time of purchase and does not fluctuate with market conditions. An indexed annuity also guarantees the principal and includes an annual reset feature, which locks in gains each year and sets a new starting point for the next year, meaning that future decreases in the index will not affect the interest that has already been earned. This means that with a fixed annuity, you can be certain that your principal and any accumulated interest will be safe, no matter what happens in the market.

On the other hand, variable annuities are similar to mutual funds and the value can change based on the performance of the underlying investments. The principal and any gains are not protected against market fluctuations, so it is possible to lose money, including the principal, if the investments do not perform well. Additionally, variable annuities tend to have higher fees than fixed annuities, which can further increase the chances of losing money.

Factors to Consider:

  • Penalties and Fees
  • Strength of the Insurance Company
  • Guarantee Funds and Associations

When considering an annuity, it’s also important to be aware of the penalties for early withdrawal and any additional fees associated with added benefits (riders). These penalties and fees can eat into your returns and make it more difficult to break even on your investment. Furthermore, if the insurance carrier backing the annuity goes bankrupt, the principal may be at risk. However, most states provide a guarantee fund or association to prevent annuity losses. It’s worth noting that annuities are not covered by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), which means that they are not insured by the government like bank deposits are.


  • Thoroughly Research and Understand the Terms and Conditions
  • Consult with a Financial Advisor
  • Weigh the Potential Risks and Rewards

In summary, while annuities provide a guaranteed income stream, there are still risks involved. It’s important to thoroughly research and understand the terms and conditions of any annuity before making an investment. If you’re considering an annuity as part of your retirement plan, be sure to weigh the potential risks and rewards, and consult with a financial advisor to determine if an annuity is right for you. Remember, while annuities may help ensure that you don’t run out of money in retirement, they are not without their own set of risks and it’s important to be aware of those risks before making an investment.