LIMRA: Total Individual Life Insurance Sales Improve in 2011

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Total individual life insurance grew four percent in new annualized premium in 2011, resulting in the second consecutive year of growth. In the fourth quarter, life insurance premium rose two percent, compared with the fourth quarter of 2010.

“For the second year in a row, strong whole life sales propelled overall individual life insurance sales growth,” said Ashley Durham, senior analyst, LIMRA Product Research. “With the economy continuing to struggle, consumers are attracted to the premium and cash-value guarantees along with lifetime coverage, which whole life offers.”

Overall in 2011, companies issued two percent more individual life policies than they had in 2010. This is only the fourth time policy sales have increased in the past 30 years. In the fourth quarter, total policy count inched up one percent.

Whole life (WL) continues to flourish in the current economic conditions. For the year, WL premium increased nine percent over 2010. This is the sixth consecutive year of positive growth. In the fourth quarter, WL premium improved five percent, compared to prior year. WL policy count increased five percent in 2011.

Variable universal life (VUL) experienced a bit of resurgence in 2011. VUL was the second biggest driver of total individual life insurance premium growth in 2011. VUL climbed 22 percent in 2011, spurred on by a 36 percent jump in the fourth quarter. However, the number of VUL policies sold dropped nine percent in 2011. VUL policy count hasn’t increased in 29 quarters.

Universal life (UL) premium rose three percent in 2011, despite a two percent decline in the fourth quarter. The number of UL policies sold increased for the third year in a row, up eight percent in 2011. In the fourth quarter, UL policy count grew two percent, which was the 11th consecutive quarter of growth.

Driving UL premium and policy count growth are indexed UL products. Indexed UL premium jumped 38 percent in 2011, representing about 25 percent of UL premium sold in 2011. Indexed UL policy count rose 30 percent in 2011. LIMRA anticipates indexed UL sales to remain strong in 2012 as the product has proven to be a good fit in an uncertain economy and companies continue to introduce products and/or enter the market.

While lifetime UL products represent the lion’s share of UL annualized premium at 40 percent, sales dropped seven percent in 2011. LIMRA attributes this decline to price increases and companies leaving the market.

Term life insurance was the only product line to experience declines in both premium and policy count in 2011. Term premium fell six percent in 2011; policy count was down four percent. In the fourth quarter, term premium and policy count dropped four percent.

Despite the declines over the past few years, LIMRA research reveals that term life insurance continues to represent 65 percent of coverage and nearly 40 percent of all new individual life policies issued in the U.S. are term policies.

View the latest data table on U.S. life insurance sales trends. For more statistics, visit the newly updated Data Bank.

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