Shopping Tips

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Sunday, December 10, 2006

Annuities can be a useful part of a retirement portfolio. But they're hard to shop for. Many are sold by insurance brokers working on commission whose interests may not be aligned with yours. Here are some tips on finding an annuity:

· Look at the big picture, including how much guaranteed income you will have from other sources, how much risk you can tolerate and how much flexibility you think you'll need.

· Many companies sell annuities online without a broker. You can use the Internet to compare different plans to see which payout is best.

· Keep in mind the long-term financial health of the company offering an annuity. You can check a firm's credit ratings on Web sites operated by Moody's Corp. ( http://www.moodys.com) and Standard & Poor's ( http://www.standardandpoors.com). Both sites require you to register.

· If you have a large sum to invest, consider buying annuities over time to get the best rates and avoid buying in on a day when rates are particularly low.


© 2006 The Washington Post Company

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