Understanding Annuity Expenses

What is it?

For the most part, annuities will impose various administrative charges and fees. At first, the expense may seem minimal. However, over time, the cumulative effect of the charges and fees can be substantial. These expenses typically arise when dealing with variable annuities. However, fixed annuity contracts may also assess fees in the form of surrender charges.

Fixed annuities

Fixed annuities usually do not impose express charges and fees (except for surrender charges). Because there are fewer fees involved with fixed annuities, it may seem that it is the cheaper alternative to the variable annuity. However, this may not always be the case, because a fixed annuity will usually contain implicit charges that are reflected in the interest rates in the underlying contract. These implicit charges arise when the insurance company sets the interest rate that it promises to pay at a lower rate than the rate it expects to earn on its investments (sometimes, the difference is called the spread). This spread allows the insurance company to make sure that it will recover its administrative costs.

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