The first four parts of this series compared and contrasted the features available in two major types of fixed income annuities that defer the payment of their income, i.e., fixed index annuities (“FIAs”) with income riders and deferred income annuities (“DIAs”). So now that we’ve thoroughly analyzed both of these excellent retirement income planning tools, which is right for you?
The answer to this question depends upon your retirement income planning needs. The ideal retirement income planning strategy is one that will generate one or more guaranteed streams of income that will close the gap between projected expenses and projected existing sources of income with the smallest investment. Whether FIA’s or DIA’s or a combination of both strategies, will achieve this goal, will be dictated by the unique facts in a given situation.
Whenever possible, multiple FIA and DIA illustrations should be prepared to determine which strategy or strategies makes the most sense for a particular case. As discussed in the first four parts of this series, while FIAs and DIAs have much in common, each has features not found in the other.
Assuming that a similar amount of income will be produced whether a FIA or a DIA is used, the meshing of the unique features associated with each of the two types of fixed income annuities with the requirements of a particular retirement income plan will dictate what’s best for the plan. As an example, if income start date flexibility is important, a FIA will generally fit the bill. If, on the other hand, inflation-adjusted income is required over a specified term, e.g., from age 65 – 75, a DIA may be the best solution.
The presence of an accumulation value and associated built-in death benefit with FIA’s that’s not available with DIA’s often tips the scale in favor of FIAs. This is further reinforced when lifetime, vs. a specified term, income is important.
Cost is another factor that needs to be considered when comparing FIAs with income riders to DIA’s. DIA’s, as a stand-alone income-producing product, have no upfront or ongoing cost associated with them. Since the benefits of guaranteed income associated with FIA’s can generally only be obtained by purchasing an optional income rider, there’s an annual charge that’s assessed and deducted from a FIA’s accumulation value for this rider.
There are two other things to keep in mind when comparing FIAs with DIAs. Unlike FIAs with income riders, which are currently offered by numerous life insurance carriers with 169 products currently on the market, there are only a handful of carriers that offer DIA’s. One of the leading carriers, Hartford Financial Services Group, recently agreed to sell its units that develop, market, and distribute new versions of retirement income products.
A second thing to keep in mind is the ongoing tweaking of existing products and development of new products in response to marketplace demands. Of note, one of the top-rated carriers with a longstanding history introduced an innovative DIA within the last year that allows for ongoing investments as well as a flexible income start date, both features of which weren’t previously available with traditional DIA’s.
As you can see, the decision between FIAs with income riders vs. DIAs is complicated, to say the least. Determining what makes sense for you requires the skills and knowledge of an experienced retirement income planner who routinely works with these and other retirement income planning strategies.