Some of the largest companies that sell variable annuities include MetLife, Prudential Annuities and Jackson National Life, notes ThinkAdvisor. A variable annuity allows consumers to put money into a pool of investments to secure fixed incomes in retirement, states CNN Money. The performance of the investments determines income levels.
To help protect variable annuities, some companies offer a living benefit rider for extra insurance, states MetLife. With a death benefit rider, variable annuity holders can pass their investments to loved ones. Variable annuities are tax-deferred investments taxed as ordinary income when taken out, states Jackson National Life. As of 2015, if a consumer takes money out of the account before he turns 59.5, he can face an additional 10 percent tax.