Heightened demand for annuities

Selecting the most suitable type and securing the best possible deal

As we navigate life’s journey, retirement presents both a dream and a challenge. It’s the stage where we finally enjoy the fruits of our labour, a time for relaxation, exploration and personal growth. But the question that often looms is how can we ensure a steady income stream that keeps pace with our aspirations and maintains our lifestyle? Enter the world of annuities.

Annuities in recent years have often been overlooked in the retirement planning conversation. But current heightened interest rates have increased demand for annuities, offering unparalleled peace of mind, knowing that your basic needs will be covered, irrespective of how the financial markets perform.

Securing the best possible deal
They offer a steady, guaranteed income throughout your retirement years or for a specific period. But given the irreversible nature of purchasing an annuity, it’s imperative to thoroughly explore your choices, select the most suitable type and secure the best possible deal.

Annuities provide a practical means of converting your accumulated pension savings into a lifelong source of income. Comparing rates across various providers is essential once you determine your required income level. This process, known as the ‘open market option’, allows you to bypass your provider’s offer and potentially secure a higher rate with another provider.

Boosting your retirement income
Shopping around could boost your retirement income by as much as 20%. To put it in perspective, simply by exploring your options, you could increase your retirement earnings by nearly £6,000. Recent analysis reveals that a 66-year-old with a £100,000 pension pot can now purchase an annuity yielding an annual income of £6,790 – an increase of £842 compared to last year[1].

The analysis highlights a striking difference between the best and worst annuities available. For a 66-year-old with a £100,000 pension pot, rates can vary by up to 3.6% – equating to a potential annual income discrepancy of £254 or £5,945 over an average retirement period[2].

Making the right choice
Securing the right annuity for your needs can seem daunting, given the variety of options available. This one-time, typically irreversible decision is vital, and understanding the different types of annuities can greatly facilitate the process.

When choosing an annuity, you can select a conventional level-income annuity, which ensures consistent payments throughout your life. Alternatively, an increasing annuity starts with a lower initial income, but your payments increase annually in line with inflation or a predetermined rate, such as 3% or 5%. It’s essential to carefully consider the options’ costs and benefits to make the most suitable choice.

Selecting an annuity
Your marital status is another significant factor in selecting an annuity. If you opt for a single-life annuity, it will only pay out during your lifetime. In contrast, a joint-life annuity provides a full payout to you during your life and, after your death, it typically pays 50% of that amount to your partner until their demise.

Another option worth considering is a guaranteed income period. Under this plan, payments continue until the end of a chosen period (usually five or ten years), even if you pass away prematurely. In such a scenario, the income would be paid to your beneficiaries or estate, offering them financial security.

Certain lifestyle conditions
An enhanced annuity may be the right option for those with certain lifestyle conditions or medical history. Whether you smoke, are overweight, have type 2 diabetes, or have suffered from cancer, heart disease or other life-threatening conditions, you may be eligible for an enhanced annuity, which results in higher payouts.

The rates are increased to reflect the potential impact of these conditions on your lifespan. Even conditions like excess weight or high blood pressure could qualify you for an enhanced annuity.

Source data:
[1] As of 30/09/23, a standard lifetime annuity with a rate of 7% for a single life with a £100k premium, 66 years old, with a 5-year guarantee. Based on a level benefit that is paid monthly in advance.
[2] As of 30/09/2023, Legal & General Retail estimates that an average 66-year-old with a standard level of health will have a life expectancy of 90 years.