The best annuity providers in 2013

We spend decades squirreling away money for our retirement, however if you fail to do your research when you buy your annuity you stand to undo all that hard work and could end up living on a lower income than you needed to.

That's why the annuity categories are a core part of the Moneywise Pension Awards.

An estimated two-thirds of retirees buy the annuity offered to them by their pension provider, but with the difference in income offered between the best and worst providers as much as 30%, it makes sense to shop around for the best deal. Over the length of your retirement, this could boost your income by thousands of pounds.

Exactly which provider will offer you the best deal will depend on a whole host of factors – including your age and health – and so it always makes sense to shop around, however the winners of our annuity awards are a good place to start your research.

Find the best annuity rate for your circumstances

The winners of these awards were selected by a panel of expert judges who were asked to make their decisions based on a selection of best-buy annuity quotes (across different ages, smoking, non-smoking and with health problems) from the Annuity Bureau.

The judges were: Nick McBreen, IFA Worldwide Financial Planning, Mark Stone, financial consultants director, Whitechurch Financial Consultants, Scott Gallacher, chartered financial planner, Rowley Turton and Patrick Connolly, IFA, Chase De Vere.

Best Mainstream Annuity Provider

Winner: Legal & General
Commended: Aviva

Although the best quote for you will depend on your own circumstances, our judges all agreed that the most consistent annuity provider currently in the UK is Legal & General. Judge Scott Gallacher says: "With competitive rates across the board, a designated annuities team makes dealing with them straightforward and the financial strength of one of the UK's oldest insurance companies with over 175 years' experience, Legal & General is a clear winner in this competitive area."

Best Enhanced Annuity Provider

Winner: Just Retirement
Commended: LV=

Unless you take advice at retirement, it's highly likely you end up with a conventional annuity, where your income is calculated based on average life expectancy. But if you have any condition that is likely to reduce your life expectancy, it's worth investigating enhanced annuities. Underwriters will take into account your own health and lifestyle - for example, whether you smoke or are overweight - and will be able to offer you a higher income.

According to MGM Advantage, even though some 70% of retirees will qualify for an enhanced annuity, only 2% of non-advised customers will buy them. It's for this reason Moneywise decided to highlight the value of enhanced annuities and introduce an award for the specialist providers operating in this market.

This year, the award goes to Just Retirement. Judge Patrick Connolly describes the company as "the most innovative of all product providers and consistently has market-leading annuity rates which it combines with a strong level of service".