Annuities are complex products and therefore the description in the prospectus is complex. I'd question whether some of the indexed annuities are a good investment but I don't think that the problem is that the description isn't "honestly written" (they're regulated).
I don't think that you can make a direct comparison of annuities with term insurance because there are different kinds of annuities and they have different duration, risk/reward spectrum, payouts , benefits, etc.
All of the US annuities that I have come across are tax efficient. The growth is sheltered until withdrawn with no penalty if after 59-1/2.
When people comment about annuities, the initial knee jerk reaction is to mention high commissions. In most cases, that's true but not always. For example, Vanguard offers some very low cost variable annuities (circa 0.50 %). But they're not going to come with "not going to outlive my income" protection. If you want that rider, you pay for it. If you want income step up to lock in gains or a better death benefit, you pay for those riders. The more that you want, the more that you pay. All of these fees are a large drag on market performance. You are accepting drag in return for certain guarantees.
Fixed income annuities are another category. Pay a lump sum and receive a defined benefit for life, some with spousal inheritance features.
Structured index products have become very popular in recent years. For example, you could choose an ETF such as the SPY, IWM, GLD, etc. and with a 5-6 year annuity, the annual limit would be an upside participation with an 8% cap along with protection from the first 10% of index drop. These are sheltered but IMO, they are a rip off because the insurance company is keeping the dividends. That means that the index must gain the dollar amount of the dividend annually before you begin to profit. This product can be duplicated with options, resulting in a much higher annual amount of protection (~ 17 to 18%) but unfortunately, if done yourself, there's no tax sheltering.
This cursory answer is by no means comprehensive since there are many, many variations out there. If you feel that some specific type of annuity meets your needs, you're going to have to learn about it in depth in order to make a financially literate decision. And no, I'm not in the business :->)