Ranked as a Best Annuity Company of 2024

4.1

Annuity.org Star Rating

Our Take

TIAA – the first-ever company to sell variable annuities – currently sells some intriguing and unique products. The catch is that you can only participate if you or someone in your immediate family is a nonprofit employee.

Pros

  • Offers unique types of annuities
  • Superb financial strength

Cons

  • Only available to certain nonprofit employees and their families 
  • High NAIC Complaint Index score

Products Offered by TIAA

TIAA offers both fixed and variable annuities. It does not have as diverse a selection of offerings as some of its competitors, but its annuity products offer unique setups to its customers.

Fixed Annuities

TIAA’s fixed annuity is called the TIAA Traditional. This is a retirement-focused product that offers a guaranteed rate of return.

The annuity advertises both delayed liquidity and full liquidity options. If you opt for delayed, then lump-sum withdrawals are available to you within 120 days of termination with a 2.5% surrender charge.

With full liquidity, lump-sum withdrawals are available at any time without surrender charges.

The TIAA Traditional annuity can also give you a monthly payment once you have retired, helping keep you financially secure for life after leaving the workforce.

Variable Annuities 

TIAA advertises three different variable products. The first is the CREF Variable Annuity.

This product offers eight options across different asset classes for customers to choose from, helping you set up an annuity that best fits your needs and preferences.

CREF Asset Classes

  • Stock Account
  • Growth Account
  • Global Equities Account
  • Equity Index Account
  • Social Choice Account
  • Bond Market Account
  • Inflation-Linked Bond Account
  • Money Market Account

You can contribute to your CREF Variable Annuity through your retirement plan with multiple income options.

Also offered is the TIAA Real Estate Account. This is a unique annuity product, offering you a protected and straightforward way to invest in and possibly benefit from the real estate market.

TIAA advertises this product as a way to protect against inflation since rent rises with other costs. The annuity also has not been tied to or heavily affected by stock market downturns. 

The annuity offers several different withdrawal options including the ability to convert into lifetime payments.

Did You KNow?

The TIAA Real Estate Account includes 75% to 85% of net assets invested into real estate investments.

The final variable annuity available is the TIAA Access Account. This annuity – which invests in underlying mutual funds – is meant to be used while you are still in the workforce and then converted into a stream of lifetime payments once you retire.

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About TIAA

The Teachers Insurance and Annuity Association of America was originally founded in 1918. It has had quite an impact on the annuity market, as it invented and became the first company to sell variable annuities in 1952.

Today, TIAA remains a large financial services company that specializes in retirement and annuities. While it is a big company, it does have real membership requirements.

TIAA is available to people who work for certain nonprofit organizations, with teachers perhaps being the best-known type of client. Other nonprofit workers such as those who work in hospitals, museums and libraries are also eligible.

Additionally, spouses, parents, siblings and children of those workers are eligible as well.

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Credit Ratings

Credit ratings for annuity providers can help determine a company’s financial strength and stability — an indication that it will be around to guarantee payments to you in the future. Different rating companies use different scales.

TIAA’s Credit Ratings

Rating Company Credit Rating
AM Best A++
Fitch AAA
S&P AA+

What Customers Are Saying About TIAA

When it comes to customer satisfaction, TIAA scores well. Both the 2022 and 2023 editions of the J.D. Power Overall Customer Satisfaction Index for annuity companies rated TIAA above the industry average.

In 2023, it ranked ahead of key competitors such as Prudential, Athene and Equitable.

TIAA is probably one of the best [annuity companies].

But there are some areas of potential concern. TIAA holds an NAIC Complaint Index score of 15.31, meaning there were more than 15 times as many complaints against the company as expected given its market size.

This is well ahead of some competitors. 

“[With TIAA annuities,] I have moved money for retiring teachers that are just not happy with them,” Federal Retirement Advisor Ken Orenstein told Annuity.org. 

The National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) tracks consumer complaints each state’s insurance commission receives each year. These are used to compile a company’s  NAIC Complaint Index.NAIC Complaint IndexDetermined by dividing the company’s share of complaints in the U.S. market by the company’s share of premiums in the U.S. market. The National Complaint Index is always 1.00, so a score of 2.00, for example, is twice as high as expected in the market.

NAIC Complaint Index for TIAA

All Policy Types 0.75
Individual Annuities Only 15.31

These numbers indicate that TIAA receives more complaints than the industry average for individual annuities specifically.

TIAA Pros & Cons

A pro to opting for a TIAA annuity is just how unique some of those annuities are. A lot of what is offered across the industry tends to be similar, with differences coming in rates, certain features and customization options.

TIAA sells a few annuities that stand out from the pack in a big way. This includes the TIAA Real Estate Account, which allows customers to attempt to reap some of the rewards of real estate investing without being directly involved. Another is the TIAA Access Account, which provides the ability to invest in underlying mutual funds.

Another benefit of TIAA is its strong financial strength. This is an old, stable and secure institution.

But, as always, there are drawbacks. The company’s products are not nearly as widely available as most competitors. You will likely need to be a nonprofit employee or directly related to one to buy a TIAA annuity.

The company’s very high NAIC Complaint Index score may also be considered a concern.

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Provider Rating Methodology

Annuity.org created a fact-based methodology to analyze the strength, security and reach of different annuity providers. We assessed companies based on their availability, the number of direct premiums sold, their AM Best Financial Strength Rating and their NAIC Complaint Index score.

Providers received a rating on a five-star scale for each of these categories, with the complaint index and financial strength ratings weighed as the heaviest variables. Then, using a weighted average, each company was assigned an overall star rating.

Top-Ranked Annuity Providers

Provider Annuity.org Star Rating
Mass Mutual 5 star rating
New York Life 5 star rating
Pacific Life 5 star rating
Midland National 5 star rating
North American 5 star rating
Western & Southern 5 star rating

Our Rating Panel

Annuity.org expert panel for providers pages

The Annuity.org editorial team spoke with several different annuity experts to learn more about what is important to customers when searching for a provider and what factors make a company reliable. While Annuity.org designed the methodology, these experts provided feedback during the process and consulted on what factors we should leverage to best help prospective buyers compare providers. 

Please seek the advice of a qualified professional before making financial decisions.
Last Modified: June 12, 2024
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