Maybe you are thinking about investment in a deferred annuity for use in the years after retirement, as if to supply longevity insurance. Before you choose an annuity company you need to check out the renewal annuity rate track record for the company offering the annuity. Two seemingly identical annuity contracts that offer the same conditions can vary in the annuity rates at renewal time. This can happen because of the issues discussed below.
Annuity rates are monitored under the legislation of the state's department of insurance. These regulations restrict the particular annuity company's options for investment to ensure that it can fulfill its fixed annuity obligations. The laws covering investment for annuity rates ensures that the particular company offering the product invests the bulk of its funds in safe fixed-income investments: bonds, mortgages, preferred shares.
When researching potential opportunities for the best annuity rates you might come across a couple of companies that offer the same attractive features. Both contracts provide the same initial annuity rate, identical guaranteed rates, the same surrender charge amounts and schedule, and last but not least, identical withdrawal features. Even so, once the initial annuity rate period passes (after 12 months), each company will set a renewal rate at its own investment discretion. You need to understand the variables a company will consider prior to setting the new annuity rate.
The earnings an annuity company obtains from its investment portfolio depend on the quality of the securities and their average maturity. These two factors are related to risk and, as a result, affect the yield and consequently the annuity rates the company can provide investors. The old rule generally applies: the greater risk equates to higher yield.
In most cases, the higher the bond quality, the lower the chance of default. However, the low risk bonds also yield low interest. As an example, a 10-year US treasury bond, considered very low risk, yields 1.94%. To compare, a 10-year bond offered by BERKSHIRE HATHAWAY FINANCE CORP rated the same (AA+) yields 3.18%. As you can see, the binds selected for the portfolio will determine the annuity rates the insurance company can pay.
Companies with portfolios carrying greater risk obtain higher yields so long as the risk they take makes sense. They can afford to pay investors higher annuity rates.
Yet another factor that impacts risk is bond duration. Bonds with a more time to maturity usually produce more than bonds with short maturity periods. One can receive information on the quality and duration of the fixed-income portfolio held by the insurance company by asking for it.
For instance we can contemplate two annuity companies with bond portfolios that have different average maturities yet offer the same deferred annuity rates. We can hypothetically believe that both yield 5% and other things tend to be equal.
The table down below illustrates that annuity company A, which usually owns bonds with lengthier maturity, will be trapped in the event that interest rates go up and can only offer annuity rates based on the yield into which they are locked. However, if interest rates fall, its long maturity portfolio will allow it to pay better annuity rates than companies with short bond portfolios. These companies will need to buy lower yielding bonds as theirs mature.
So by looking at the investment quality and duration of the annuity company portfolio, you can get a sense of which companies can maintain annuity rates or will have the ability to pay more if rates increase.