The MIB Life Index registered a 5.8% year-over-year gain in December, boosting the index enough to end 2011 up by 0.2%.
2011 marks the third year in a row that the index ended relatively flat (-1.2% in 2010 and -0.2% in 2009), a change from prior consecutive annual losses of around 3%.
Losses showed improvement in the first three quarters of 2011, compared to 2010, and the fourth quarter was up 2.5%, which has experts hoping a growth period is in the near future.
“The index has lost more than 4% since 2007, but the pace of decline has lessened," says Lee Oliphant, MIB's CEO. "2011 is slightly positive and a strong fourth quarter is cause for optimism as we look toward 2012. We believe market stability in challenging economic conditions may signal a new floor from which the industry can grow."
Among age groups, those in the 60-plus range saw the strongest growth. In December, the 60-plus group was up 13.8% year-over-year and up 8.9% for 2011 as a whole. The group has been on the increase for the past five consecutive years, up 42.2% 2011-2007.
The MIB Index is based on the number of searches MIB life member company underwriters perform on the MIB database. The vast majority of individually underwritten life premium dollars in North America include an MIB search as a routine underwriting requirement, so the index is able to provide a rough estimate of new business activity.