Christian Simmons, writer and researcher for RetireGuide
  • Written by
    Christian Simmons

    Christian Simmons

    Financial Writer

    Christian Simmons is a writer for RetireGuide and a member of the Association for Financial Counseling & Planning Education (AFCPE®). He covers Medicare and important retirement topics. Christian is a former winner of a Florida Society of News Editors journalism contest and has written professionally since 2016.

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  • Edited By
    Savannah Pittle
    Savannah Pittle, senior financial editor for RetireGuide

    Savannah Pittle

    Senior Financial Editor

    Savannah Pittle is a professional writer and content editor with over 16 years of professional experience across multiple industries. She has ghostwritten for entrepreneurs and industry leaders and been published in mediums such as The Huffington Post, Southern Living and Interior Appeal Magazine.

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  • Financially Reviewed By
    Ebony J. Howard, CPA
    Ebony J. Howard, CPA

    Ebony J. Howard, CPA

    Credentialed Tax Expert at Intuit

    Ebony J. Howard is a certified public accountant and freelance consultant with a background in accounting, personal finance, and income tax planning and preparation.  She specializes in analyzing financial information in the health care, banking and real estate sectors.

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  • Published: April 4, 2023
  • Updated: October 25, 2023
  • 6 min read time
  • This page features 9 Cited Research Articles
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How to Cite RetireGuide.com's Article

APA Simmons, C. (2023, October 25). American Equity Annuities: Understanding Benefits and Drawbacks. RetireGuide.com. Retrieved April 8, 2024, from https://www.retireguide.com/annuities/companies/american-equity/

MLA Simmons, Christian. "American Equity Annuities: Understanding Benefits and Drawbacks." RetireGuide.com, 25 Oct 2023, https://www.retireguide.com/annuities/companies/american-equity/.

Chicago Simmons, Christian. "American Equity Annuities: Understanding Benefits and Drawbacks." RetireGuide.com. Last modified October 25, 2023. https://www.retireguide.com/annuities/companies/american-equity/.

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Key Principles

RetireGuide’s mission is to provide seniors with resources that will help them reach important financial decisions that affect their retirement. Our goal is to arm our readers with knowledge that will lead to a healthy and financially sound retirement.

We’re dedicated to providing thoroughly researched annuity information that guides you toward making the best possible financial decisions for you and your family.

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Key Takeaways
  • American Equity is a publicly traded insurance company that sells annuities in 50 states and Washington, D.C.
  • The company sells three types of annuities: fixed, fixed indexed and immediate.
  • Fixed annuities have a fixed interest rate, while fixed indexed annuities have a minimum guaranteed rate and variable rate.
  • Immediate annuities provide an income stream for 12 months following a lump-sum payment.

About American Equity

David Noble founded American Equity as a private company in 1995 to sell life insurance and annuities to customers in Iowa. In 2003, he took the company public and issued an initial public offering through the New York Stock Exchange. American Equity expanded over the next two decades and now serves clients in 50 states and in Washington, D.C.

As of 2023, American Equity operated through a group of three member companies. The original company is headquartered in the Midwest, and the second is in New York. Both are registered under the name American Equity Investment Life Insurance Company.

A third company is Eagle Life Insurance Company. All three companies specialize in retirement annuities.

The three firms have more than 800 employees, more than 20,000 affiliated agents and more than 600,000 contract owners nationwide. They reported retained earnings of $349.7 million for the second quarter of 2022.

American Equity’s Reputation and Financial Stability

The reputation of an annuity company is best explained by third-party raters. AM Best’s rating for American Equity Investment Life Insurance Company is A- (Excellent), the fourth-highest rating of 11 ratings ranging from A++ (superior) to D (poor). This shows that the company has a strong financial position and can meet its obligations to policyholders. Additionally, AM Best gives American Equity a credit rating of A- (excellent), meaning the company has enough reserves and creditworthiness to meet its financial obligations.

Fitch Ratings gave American Equity a rating of A- (outlook stable) for financial strength, the seventh highest out of 19 ratings. It also gave a credit rating of BBB. And S&P Global Ratings gave the company an A- for financial strength and BBB- for a credit rating. All these ratings indicate that the company can meet its financial obligations. However, the ratings also indicate that in case of adverse economic conditions, the company may be affected more than higher-rated companies.

RaterCredit RatingFinancial Rating
AM BestA-A-
FitchBBBA-
S&P Global RatingsBBB-A-
Source: AM Best, S&P Global Ratings and Fitch Ratings
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Annuity Product Options

American Equity offers three types of annuities. The three are fixed index annuities, fixed annuities and immediate annuities. An annuity is a contract with an insurance company that pays a stream of income, usually during your retirement, in exchange for a lump-sum payment or annual premiums paid to the company.

Fixed Annuities

Fixed annuities are those that have a fixed rate of growth. A pre-negotiated contract spells out the annuity rate of return, which locks in for a specific number of years. During that period, your investment will accumulate interest based on that guaranteed rate.

At the end of the annuity term, you can receive your income as a lump-sum payment or as monthly, quarterly or annual payments. You can also choose to convert it into a lifetime income stream. Fixed annuities protect you from a possible fall in interest rates. But they can limit your income if interest rates rise or if the stock market enjoys a healthy run while your money is tied up.

Fixed Annuities

Fixed Index Annuities

Fixed index annuities combine the features of fixed and variable annuities. That means there’s a minimum interest rate below which the annuity can’t fall, regardless of market changes. However, the rate can increase if a defined stock market index, such as the S&P 500, rises. That provides the same protection as a fixed annuity but with an opportunity to generate more money if interest rates rise.

Fixed Indexed Annuities

Immediate Annuities

Immediate annuities are ones that pay off more quickly. You must make a lump-sum payment to the insurance company. Then, after 12 months, the company can pay you the agreed-upon amount over the agreed-upon period. Unlike fixed annuities, you don’t have to accumulate savings.

This option may be ideal for retirees who receive lump-sum payments and want a continuous income stream. You can get the income for life or a set number of years, depending on your age and the lump sum that created the annuity.

Immediate Annuities

American Equity’s Annuity Fees and Charges

American Equity doesn’t charge an annual fee for contracts with a fixed maturity. But it does charge a small percentage fee for lifetime income benefit contracts. It also offers a variety of specialty annuity products — AssetShield and IncomeShield — that have fee regulations on withdrawals. Fees depend on the number of years until maturity.

The company allows annuitants to withdraw interest credited to their accounts for the current contract year. Any withdrawal beyond this amount gets charged a penalty that starts at 9% in the first year. Any future charges get reduced by 1% each subsequent year, except for the maturity year.

For instance, AssetShield 10 is one of American Equity’s popular fixed index annuities. It has a 10-year maturity period and requires a minimum investment of $5,000. Annual withdrawals of up to 10% of the contract’s value are free. If you end the contract before maturity, the surrender value won’t be less than 87.5%.

The specific charges you pay depend on the product you buy. American Equity is open about those charges and lists them in the annuity contract. You can use the company’s online calculator to determine how much you can expect to make in your investment.

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Contact American Equity Customer Service

The American Equity customer service page provides various methods for contacting the company. You can reach out via email, a toll-free number and a physical mail address. There’s also an option for clients to create online accounts to gain instant access to their information.

American Equity was also ranked as the highest annuity provider for Customer Satisfaction in the J.D. Power and Associates 2022 U.S. Individual Annuity Study.

FAQs About American Equity’s Annuity Products

How does American Equity ensure the safety and security of your money?
American Equity is regulated by state and federal authorities who oversee the company’s financial activities and ensure that it adheres to industry standards and best practices. The company is also a member of state guaranty associations, which provide additional protection to policyholders if an insurance company becomes insolvent.
How does American Equity calculate the interest rate for its annuities?
American Equity considers many factors when calculating interest rates for its annuity products. These include market conditions, stock market performance, guarantees and benefits, administrative costs, marketing costs and competitive advantages.
Are American Equity annuities FDIC insured?
American Equity annuities are not FDIC insured. The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) provides insurance coverage for deposit accounts, such as checking and savings accounts, at banks and savings institutions. Annuities are insurance products, which the FDIC doesn’t insure.
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Last Modified: October 25, 2023

9 Cited Research Articles

  1. American Equity. (2023). America Equity Timeline. Retrieved from https://www.american-equity.com/holding-company/about-us/company-timeline
  2. American Equity. (2023). About Us. Retrieved from https://www.american-equity.com/holding-company/about-us
  3. American Equity. (2023). Annuities: The American Equity Promise. Retrieved from https://www.american-equity.com/annuities
  4. Glassdoor. (2023). American Equity (AEL) Reviews. Retrieved from https://www.glassdoor.com/Reviews/American-Equity-AEL-Reviews-E23269.htm
  5. Fitch Rating. (2022, December 8). Fitch Affirms American Equity’s Ratings; Outlook Stable. Retrieved from https://www.fitchratings.com/research/insurance/fitch-affirms-american-equity-ratings-outlook-stable-08-12-2022
  6. AM Best. (2022, September 9). AM Best Affirms Credit Ratings of American Equity Investment Life Insurance Company and Its Subsidiaries. Retrieved from https://news.ambest.com/PressContent.aspx?altsrc=2&refnum=32460
  7. American Equity. (2022, August 8). American Equity Reports Strong Results as Investment Yield Improves. Retrieved from https://ir.american-equity.com/static-files/91e984ac-5c7b-426f-9e32-5f68eda1f40d
  8. S&P Global. (2020, August 21). Insurance Ratings Actions: S&P Changes Outlook On American Equity Investment. Retrieved from https://www.spglobal.com/marketintelligence/en/news-insights/latest-news-headlines/insurance-ratings-actions-s-p-changes-outlook-on-american-equity-investment-60039154
  9. American Equity. (2021). AssetShield 10. Retrieved from https://media.american-equity.com/Documents/01SB1165-10.pdf