Understanding Annuities

​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​Last Updated: November 20, 2020

Full version of publication: Understanding Annuities​


An annuity is a written contract typically between you and a life insurance company in which the insurance company makes a series of regularly spaced payments to you in return for a premium or premiums you have paid. An annuity is not life insurance. A life insurance policy provides benefits to your family if you die. An annuity helps you accumulate money for future income needs. The most appropriate use for income payments from an annuity contract is to fund your retirement. 

This guide should be used primarily to help you make choices when buying an annuity and to help you understand annuities as a source of retirement income. In addition, this publication 

  • Explains the different types of annuity contracts
  • Describes the various contractual features
  • Discusses how to shop for an annuity

​Request a Copy by Mail
If you wish to receive a printed version of this guide by mail, click here or call 1-800-236-8517 to request a copy.

File a Complaint
If you have a specific complaint about your insurance, refer it first to the insurance company or agent involved. If you do not receive satisfactory answers, contact the Office of the Commissioner of Insurance (OCI).

  • ​Reach out to OCI (1-800-236-8517, ocicomplaints@wisconsin.gov) to speak with our staff. If sending an email, please indicate your name and phone number.

  • File a complaint with OCI. You can file a complaint online by clicking here. If you would like to file your complaint by mail, you can download a complaint form in English or Españ​ol.​​