Fixed annuities, sometimes called guaranteed annuities, are considered safe because you can count on receiving the specific return you’re promised each year. The guarantee is backed by the insurance company issuing the annuity, not the government. But if you buy your contract from a highly rated company, its financial strength and reputation stand behind your contract. Rating services such as Standard & Poor’s, Moody’s, A.M. Best, and Fitch rank annuity providers on their overall financial condition, which underlies their ability to meet their obligations. These reports are available online, from your financial adviser, and from the insurance company if you request them. While you usually buy a fixed annuity to provide retirement income for your- self, or for yourself and your spouse, you can also purchase an annuity to provide lifetime income for another person whom you support, such as an elderly relative or a disabled child. If you can’t decide between a fixed and a variable annuity, or if you’re uneasy about investing directly in the stock market, you may want to investigate a fixed index annuity. This simplified hypothetical illustration shows the upside gains and downside protection that a fixed index annuity provides. Index gains are reflected in   Read more…