This paper provides a detailed overview of variable annuities. Consideration is first given to the definition of the term variable annuity. Common terminology used in the variable annuity market is introduced. The current state of the United Kingdom and other international markets is described. Then, by reference to a simplified product, an analysis of customer outcomes, pricing, reserving, risk management and hedging is carried out. The paper ends with a description of current U.K. pensions legislation and how it potentially constrains product development.