Contract sold by insurance companies that pays a monthly (or quarterly, semiannual, or annual) income benefit for the life of a person (the annuitant), for the lives of two or more persons, or for a specified period of time. The annuitant can never outlive the income from the annuity. While the basic purpose of life insurance is to provide an income for a beneficiary at the death of the insured, the annuity is intended to provide an income for life for the annuitant. There are variations in both the way that payments are made by a buyer during the accumulation period, and in the way payments are made to the annuitant during the liquidation period. An annuity may be bought by means of installments, with benefits scheduled to begin at a specified age such as 65; or, it may be bought by means of a single lump sum, with benefits scheduled to begin immediately or at a later date. No physical examination is required.