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All Major Product Lines Record Positive Growth in the Fourth Quarter

WINDSOR, Conn., March 7, 2013 — Total individual life insurance new annualized premium grew six percent in 2012 — resulting in the third consecutive year of growth — according to LIMRA’s fourth quarter 2012 individual life insurance sales survey.

In the fourth quarter, total individual life premium grew 12 percent, the largest growth recorded since the downturn. The number of life insurance policies sold grew by one percent for the year, making 2012 the second consecutive year of positive annual policy growth. The last time individual policy count increased two years in a row was in 1980/1981, when policy count grew three and seven percent, respectively.

“We haven’t seen a quarter in which all of the major product lines experienced growth since 2006,” commented Ashley Durham, senior analyst, LIMRA Product Research. “Fourth quarter 2012 had a few driving forces, including the continued attraction to guarantees and growth potential, corporate sales, and the anticipation of product changes related to revisions to Actuarial Guideline 38.”

Universal life (UL) new annualized premium had the strongest performance of all the products in the fourth quarter, rising 20 percent. For the year, UL premium rose eight percent compared with 2011. The number of UL policies sold fell eight percent for the quarter and three percent in 2012.

In 2012, UL market share was 40 percent of total new individual life insurance premium.

Indexed UL soared 42 percent in the fourth quarter and improved 36 percent for the year. IUL now represents 30 percent of total UL premium, and 12 percent of all individual life insurance premium.

While lifetime guaranteed UL premium jumped 27 percent in the fourth quarter, it was primarily a reflection of a fire sale before the new reserving requirements took effect on Jan. 1, 2013. Despite the substantial growth in the fourth quarter, lifetime GUL only increased one percent in 2012.

Whole life sales continued to be strong in the fourth quarter. WL new annualized premium increased six percent in the fourth quarter, resulting in a seven percent uptick for the year. This is the seventh consecutive year of growth for WL. In 2012, WL market share was 32 percent of total premium, which is the highest since 1998.

WL policy count was up four percent for the quarter and up five percent in 2012.

Term premium increased four percent in the fourth quarter. Positive growth was reported by about 60 percent of the writers in 2012. For the year, term premium was flat. However, LIMRA predicts term sales will pick up as economic factors improve.

Variable universal life (VUL) premium increased 16 percent in the fourth quarter of 2012, mainly due to sales of COLI and private placement. Despite the growth in the fourth quarter, VUL was unable to overcome the poor performance of the prior three quarters, so new premium was still flat in 2012.

VUL market share was seven percent — half of what it was in 2007. VUL policy count fell eight percent in the fourth quarter and nine percent in 2012.

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

LIMRA Contact:

Catherine Theroux, 860-285-7787,


LIMRA, a worldwide research, consulting and professional development organization, is the trusted source of industry knowledge, helping more than 850 insurance and financial services companies in 73 countries increase their marketing and distribution effectiveness. Visit LIMRA at

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