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Sales of equity-indexed annuities EIAs —also known as "fixed-indexed insurance products" and "indexed annuities"—have grown considerably in recent years. Although one insurance company at one time included the word "simple" in the name of its product, EIAs are anything but easy to understand. One of the most confusing features of an EIA is the method used to calculate the gain in the index to which the annuity is linked. To make matters worse, there is not one, but several different indexing methods.

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Sales of equity-indexed annuities EIAs —also known as "fixed-indexed insurance products" and "indexed annuities"—have grown considerably in recent years. Although one insurance company at one time included the word "simple" in the name of its product, EIAs are anything but easy to understand. One of the most confusing features of an EIA is the method used to calculate the gain in the index to which the annuity is linked.

To make matters worse, there is not one, but several different indexing methods. Because of the variety and complexity of the methods used to credit interest, investors will find it difficult to compare one EIA to another.

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Before you buy an EIA, you should understand the various features of this investment and be prepared to ask your insurance agent, broker, financial planner or other financial professional lots of questions about whether an EIA is right for you.

What is an Annuity? An annuity is a contract between you and an insurance company in which the company promises to make periodic payments to you, starting immediately or at some future time. If the payments are delayed to the future, you have a deferred annuity.

Why an Alert on Equity-Indexed Annuities?

If the payments start immediately, you have an immediate annuity. You buy the annuity either with a single payment or a series of payments called premiums. Annuities come in two types: With a fixed annuity, the insurance company guarantees both the rate of return and the payout.

As its name implies, a variable annuity's rate of return is not stable, but varies with the performance of the stock, bond and money market investment options that you choose. There is no guarantee that you will earn any return on your investment and there is a risk that you will lose money.

What is an Equity-Indexed Annuity? EIAs are complex financial instruments that have characteristics of both fixed and variable annuities.

Their return varies more than a fixed annuity, but not as much as a variable annuity. So EIAs give you more risk but more potential return than a fixed annuity but less risk and less potential return than a variable annuity.

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EIAs offer a minimum guaranteed interest rate combined with an interest rate linked to a market index. Because of the guaranteed interest rate, EIAs have less market risk than variable annuities.

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EIAs also have the potential to earn returns better than traditional fixed annuities when the stock market is rising. What is the Guaranteed Minimum Return?Panache, Cleo by Panache, and Sculptresse by Panache: Panache is a globally recognized brand specializing in fuller bust sizes.

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