Can You Really Lose Money With an Annuity? The Truth Unveiled!

When it comes to retirement planning, annuities are often touted as a safe and secure investment option. But the question remains – can you really lose money with an annuity? In this comprehensive guide, we’ll unravel the truth and equip you with the knowledge to make informed decisions about your financial future.

Understanding Annuities: A Brief Overview

An annuity is a contract between you and an insurance company. You make a lump-sum payment or a series of payments, and in return, the insurance company guarantees a stream of income, either for a fixed period or for the rest of your life. Annuities are designed to provide a steady income during retirement, and they come in various types, including fixed, variable, and indexed annuities.

The Potential Risks: Can You Lose Money With an Annuity?

While annuities are generally considered safe investments, there are certain scenarios where you could potentially lose money. Here are the two main factors to consider:

1. Type of Annuity

The type of annuity you choose plays a crucial role in determining the risk of losing money. Let’s explore the different types and their associated risks:

Variable Annuities

  • Variable annuities are tied to the performance of underlying investment portfolios, which can fluctuate in value.
  • If the investments perform poorly, the value of your annuity can decrease, potentially leading to losses.
  • However, some variable annuities offer guaranteed minimum income benefits (GMIBs), which ensure a minimum level of income regardless of the investments’ performance.

Fixed Annuities

  • Fixed annuities, including fixed-rate and fixed-indexed annuities, offer a guaranteed rate of return for a specified period.
  • If you hold the annuity until maturity and don’t withdraw funds early, you cannot lose money on the principal investment.
  • Early withdrawal penalties or market value adjustments (MVAs) can result in losses if you access your funds before the end of the term.

Income Annuities (Immediate or Longevity)

  • Income annuities provide guaranteed income payments for life or a specified period.
  • With a “life-only” income annuity, you could potentially lose money if you pass away sooner than expected, as the remaining balance is forfeited to the insurance company.
  • To mitigate this risk, you can opt for a “cash refund” or “period certain” payout option, which ensures your beneficiaries receive any remaining balance upon your death.

2. Financial Strength of the Insurance Company

The financial strength and stability of the insurance company issuing the annuity are crucial factors to consider. If the insurance company becomes insolvent and defaults on its obligations, you could potentially lose some or all of your annuity’s value.

To minimize this risk, it’s essential to research the financial strength ratings of the insurance company from reputable rating agencies like A.M. Best, Moody’s, or Standard & Poor’s. These ratings provide insights into the insurer’s ability to meet its financial obligations.

Safeguarding Your Investment

While the risks associated with annuities cannot be completely eliminated, there are steps you can take to protect your investment:

  1. Diversify your portfolio: Annuities should be part of a well-diversified retirement portfolio that includes other investments, such as stocks, bonds, and mutual funds.

  2. Choose reputable insurance companies: Stick with highly rated insurance companies that have a proven track record of financial stability and strength.

  3. Understand the terms and conditions: Carefully review the annuity contract and understand the fees, withdrawal penalties, and other terms before making a purchase.

  4. Consider additional protection: Some annuities offer optional riders or features, such as guaranteed minimum income benefits (GMIBs) or cash refund options, which can provide additional protection against potential losses.

  5. Seek professional advice: Consult with a qualified financial advisor who can help you evaluate your specific needs and recommend the most suitable annuity products for your retirement goals.


While annuities can be a valuable addition to your retirement portfolio, it’s essential to understand the potential risks involved. By considering the type of annuity, the financial strength of the insurance company, and implementing appropriate safeguards, you can minimize the chances of losing money and enjoy the benefits of a steady stream of income during your golden years.

Remember, annuities are complex financial products, and it’s crucial to conduct thorough research and seek professional guidance before making any investment decisions. By staying informed and taking a proactive approach, you can navigate the annuity landscape with confidence and secure your financial future.

Can You Lose Money In An Annuity?


Is it possible to lose money in an annuity?

You can, however, lose money on annuities if the insurance company that issued the annuity goes out of business and defaults on its obligation. There is a degree of regulatory protection for investors in case this happens.

What are the downside of annuities?

Annuities can be a bad choice for some people—they have higher fees and less flexibility than some savings options. And depending on the type you choose, your heirs may get nothing after you die even if far less was paid out than you had contributed.

How much does a $100 000 annuity pay per month?

For instance, a $100,000 annuity purchased at age 65 with immediate payments might yield about $614 monthly. If the annuity has a 5% interest rate over 10 years, the monthly payment could be approximately $1,055.. At age 70, the same annuity might pay around $613 monthly for life.

Can an annuity go down in value?

Poor Performance of Variable Annuities: Poor performance on the underlying investments of your variable annuity can expose you to a loss. This happens if the annuity is not protected with a guaranteed minimum return option (more on that later).

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