As stated in Part 1 of this post, while fixed index annuities (“FIAs”) with income riders can be used to provide guaranteed (subject to the claims paying ability of individual life insurance companies) lifetime income beginning at a future date, they aren’t the only fixed income annuity game in town. Of the 12 features offered by FIA’s with an income rider that are listed in Part 1, three are offered by deferred income annuities (“DIAs”), four are applicable on a limited basis, and the remaining five aren’t applicable. The last group is the subject of this post.
The following is a list of the five features offered by FIAs that aren’t applicable to DIAs:
- Potential doubling of income amount to cover nursing home expense
- Investment value in addition to future income stream
- Protection from loss of principal
- Potential for increase in investment value
- Potential matching of percentage of investment amounts by financial institution
Potential Doubling of Income Amount to Cover Nursing Home Expense
The first feature, potential doubling of income amount to cover nursing home expense, isn’t a standard feature of FIAs with income riders. Of the 184 FIAs that currently offer guaranteed minimum withdrawal benefits (“GMWBs”), or income riders, 53, or less than one-third, include some type of long-term care benefit. When present, the amount of the benefit compared to the standard income amount, as well as qualification for this benefit, varies.
Investment Value in Addition to Future Income Stream
While DIAs and FIAs with income riders both offer the ideal retirement income feature of guaranteed (subject to the claims paying ability of individual life insurance companies) tax-deferred lifetime income, only FIAs also have a traditional investment value associated with them. Psychologically, this is comforting to investors who are uneasy with exchanging a lump sum of money “only” for an income stream who don’t understand the concept that the present value of the future income stream is an investment just like a brokerage account or any other investment asset.
Protection From Loss of Principal
Protection from loss of principal as well as features #4 and #5 are driven by feature #3, i.e., investment value in addition to a future income stream. The investment, or accumulation, value of FIAs, as it’s better known, will never decrease as a result of investment performance. It will either increase or remain unchanged on an annual or biennial basis, depending upon particular stock indexing strategies chosen. In the event of negative performance of a particular strategy, it will remain unchanged.
Potential for Increase of Investment Value
The investment, or accumulation, value of a FIA can increase to the extent that it’s allocated to one or more of the following three investment choices:
- Fixed account
- Traditional indexing method when the performance of the chosen index is positive
- Inverse performance trigger when the performance of the associated index is negative
The last choice, inverse performance trigger, isn’t a standard FIA indexing crediting option. Of the 253 FIAs on the market today, there are only 12 products available from two life insurance companies that offer this innovative strategy.
Potential Matching of Percentage of Investment Amount by Investment Institution
As previously stated, unlike DIAs that don’t have a traditional investment value associated with them, FIAs offer this feature. In addition, of the 253 FIAs available today, 130, or approximately one-half, have a percentage matching, or premium bonus, as it’s more commonly known, feature. A premium bonus is a fixed percentage of the investment in a FIA that’s added by some life insurance companies to the FIAs accumulation value during the first contract year and, sometimes, subsequent contract years, for a specified number of years.
As discussed in previous posts, the availability of this feature, as well as the bonus percentage amount when offered, shouldn’t be relied upon in and of itself to determine the suitability of a particular FIA in a given situation.
Robert Klein, CPA, PFS, CFP®, RICP®, CLTC® is the founder and president of Retirement Income Center in Newport Beach, California. Bob is also the sole proprietor of Robert Klein, CPA. Bob applies his unique background, experience, expertise, and specialization in tax-sensitive retirement income planning strategies to optimize the longevity of his clients’ after-tax retirement income and assets. He does this as an independent financial advisor using customized holistic planning solutions based on each client’s needs and personality.