A variable annuity is considered to be a contract between you and your insurance company, which specializes in variable annuities that will provide fluctuating returns instead of a fixed return. A variable annuity can be a tax deferred retirement account that will allow you to choose between a wide range of investments. A variable annuity can pay you a level of your income in your retirement years that will be decided by how your investments will perform on the market. A variable annuity can also offer optional living benefits that will provide protections on payouts, account values, or withdrawals against the effect of your investment losses. A variable annuity can sometimes be used as an inflation hedge. A variable annuity can offer an investor a greater potential for rewards than annuities that may be supported by a fixed annuity.