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WINDSOR, Conn., Feb. 24, 2008 – New annualized premium for individual life insurance dropped 14 percent in the fourth quarter of 2008, ending the year with an overall seven percent decline, according to LIMRA’s quarterly sales survey.

The fourth quarter marked the single sharpest decline in premium since the fourth quarter of 1951, LIMRA reported. The overall decline for the year erased the strong seven percent gain of the previous year and was the largest one-year decline in LIMRA’s records. The last significant annual decline was in 1991, coming off a mild recession, when premium fell five percent.

The one bright spot in 2008 was the increase in whole life (WL) premium. Following a third quarter resurgence of seven percent, whole life sales increased two percent in the fourth quarter, ending two percent higher for the year.

Universal life (UL) sales fell 23 percent in the fourth quarter. Variable universal life (VUL) products continued to follow market trends, dropping 18 percent in the fourth quarter, finishing the year down 17 percent. Nearly ninety percent of the writers suffered declines, most in double digits.

Term life premium was down three percent for the quarter and two percent overall in 2008. Nearly 60 percent of term writers saw declines in 2008, with 30 percent experiencing double-digit declines.

Number of policies sold was down 10 percent in the fourth quarter, and finished the year down four percent.

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

About LIMRA International

LIMRA International is a worldwide research, consulting and professional development organization that helps more than 850 insurance and financial services companies in 73 countries increase their marketing and distribution effectiveness. Visit LIMRA at

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