Update: Annuity payment rates for one insurer are at the end of this post.
The Canada Pension Plan (CPP) is essentially a CPI-indexed life annuity. Your CPP benefits are determined based on your contributions during your working life, and once payments start they rise with the consumer price index (CPI) each year. CPP payments may not be large, but their purchasing power remains constant for the rest of your life. This brings considerable peace of mind.
For people who have built their own savings over the years without the benefit of an employer defined-benefit pension plan, it’s natural to consider turning a large lump sum of savings into a CPP-like CPI-indexed life annuity. This would eliminate having to worry about investing and would eliminate concerns about outliving your money or losing ground to inflation.
I wouldn’t want to tie up all my savings in an annuity, but I can see the appeal of allocating a portion to an annuity so that the combination of CPP and annuity payments would guarantee a “necessities” level of income for the rest of my life.
The last time I wrote on this subject I couldn’t find a life annuity in Canada whose payments were indexed to inflation. However, in Jonathan Chevreau’s recent Financial Post article, he explains that “most Canadian insurance companies don't sell true inflation-indexed annuities”. The implication is that some insurance companies do sell inflation-indexed annuities.
I tried harder to find a seller in Canada and finally found Standard Life Canada’s annuity page. Among the many choices is a fully CPI-indexed life annuity. The next questions are
1. What does “fully indexed” mean? Is there some sort of cap on inflation adjustments?
2. What monthly payments can one get for a given lump sum?
Unfortunately, Standard Life Canada does not sell directly to the public. They only sell through licensed advisors. Are there any licensed advisors in the house willing to find out what “fully indexed” means and whether payment increases are capped? As for the payment levels, I think quotes for the following three situations would be instructive:
– 3 cases: Single life annuity (woman or man) or joint life annuity
– Age 71 (when RRSPs have to be rolled into RRIFs)
– $100,000 in an RRSP
– Fully CPI-indexed
– No guarantee period or other options
According to Chevreau’s article, advisors prefer to sell different products that generate higher fees, but perhaps we will get lucky and an advisor will dig up some useful information on these CPI-indexed annuities.
Update: I received the following quotes for a $100,000 lump sum from Standard Life (accurate on 2010 July 7):
71-year old male: $522 per month
71-year old female: $470 per month
71-year old couple: $468 per month (40% reduction on first death)
71-year old couple: $388 per month (no reduction on first death)
The time to break even on these payments is 16, 18, 18, and 21.5 years, respectively. The CPI increase is exactly equal to the officially-reported CPI increase except that any CPI decrease would not lead to a decrease in payments, but would be used to offset future CPI increases.