WINDSOR, Conn., May 25, 2010—In the first three months of 2010, individual life insurance increased 10 percent as compared to a year ago, according to LIMRA’s U.S. Individual Life Insurance Sales survey.
“While the increase is encouraging, it is important to remember that in the first quarter of 2009, new individual life annualized premium dropped 26 percent – the sharpest decline since 1943,” said Ashley Durham, senior analyst, LIMRA product research. “To put it into perspective, sales in the first three months of 2010 are back to the level measured during the third quarter of 2003.”
Universal life (UL) showed the biggest sign of improvement, increasing 17 percent in the first quarter versus first quarter 2009. But again, UL sales were down by more than 30 percent in the first quarter of 2009. This puts UL sales back to the levels in the first quarter 2005.
In the first quarter, nearly 65 percent of companies were able to increase their UL sales, with half of all writers enjoyed double-digit increases. Overall, policy count improved along with premium, jumping 21 percent over first quarter 2009. This was the largest increase in UL policy sales since the third quarter of 2002, a time when replacement activity, particularly for products with new or stronger long-term secondary guarantees likely had a significant impact.
In the first quarter, death benefit guarantee (DBG) UL sales increased by about 10 percent, while non-DBG UL sales were up 30 percent. LIMRA experts anticipate that as more companies re-price their products there may be some downward pressure on DBG UL sales.
New indexed UL premium grew about 50 percent in the first quarter of 2010, as compared to the prior year. New products, issuance of large policies and focused sales campaigns were cited as reasons behind the increases.
Whole life, the only product to show positive growth in 2009, experienced the next biggest increase in the first quarter of 2010, jumping 15 percent. It has not shown growth at this level since fourth quarter 2002. While just over half of the writers were up, the majority of the increase reflected big mutual companies.
Variable universal life (VUL) also increased in the first quarter, increasing 10 percent from a year ago. Of course, VUL sales were cut by more than half this time last year. Still, there are some signs of hope: nearly 40 percent of the writers were up, including six of the top 10 companies.
Term was the only product with negative sales results in the first quarter 2010. New annualized premium declined four percent, and policies fell by five percent as less than half of the writers were able to increase their sales this quarter. Companies experiencing declines cited price increases on longer duration term and return of premium (ROP) term products as a result of increased reserve requirements.
LIMRA 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 www.limra.com.