WINDSOR, Conn., March 14, 2019 –Total U.S. individual life insurance new annualized premium (premium) increased 1 percent in 2018, compared with 2017 results, according to the LIMRA U.S. Retail Individual Life Insurance Sales Survey. This represents the fifth year of growth in premium for U.S. life insurance.
The study reported fourth quarter new premium was flat, compared with fourth quarter 2017.
Policy count was flat in the fourth quarter and for the year. This is the third consecutive quarter of flat policy count and the second consecutive year without policy growth.
“Variable universal life (VUL) was the biggest driver of growth in the fourth quarter of 2018,” noted Ashley Durham, assistant research director, LIMRA Insurance Research. “Protection-focused VUL premium represented more than half (53 percent) of the VUL market in 2018. This is the first time VUL protection-focused products’ market share has exceeded accumulation-focused products’ market share.”
Variable life UL (VUL) new premium increased 15 percent in the fourth quarter, driven by sales of protection-focused products, which increased 67 percent. For the year, VUL new premium grew 14 percent. Its market share of the total US individual market was 7 percent in 2018, a slight increase compared to prior year.
Whole life (WL) new premium growth was flat in the fourth quarter and in 2018. This is on top of flat sales in 2017 and only the second year without positive annual growth since 2006. Half of the WL writers, including four of the top 10 companies, reported lower sales in 2018. WL represented 35 percent of the total U.S. life insurance market in 2018.
Total universal life premium dropped 3 percent in the fourth quarter, and was down 1 percent in 2018, compared to 2017 sales results.
Indexed UL (IUL) new premium rose 4 percent in the fourth quarter, and increased 9 percent for the year, compared to 2017 results. IUL was the biggest driver of growth for the year overall. For the year, IUL represented 66 percent of UL premium and 24 percent of all individual life premium. This exceeds all previous levels of IUL since LIMRA began collecting in 2006.
Lifetime guarantee (LTG) UL new premium fell 20 percent in the fourth quarter, which is the seventh consecutive quarter of declines. Sales among these products continued to be hampered mainly by rate hikes. Full year 2018 results for LTG UL dropped 17 percent, compared with prior year. LTG UL held 16 percent of the UL market and 6 percent of the total US individual life insurance market in 2018.
Total UL premium represented 37 percent of the U.S. life insurance market in 2017.
Term life insurance new premium rose 2 percent in the fourth quarter. For the year, term improved 1 percent, compared with prior year. Term held a 21 percent market share of the total life insurance market in 2018. Term life insurance market share has been in the 21-22 percent range since 2011.
LIMRA’s Fourth Quarter 2018 U.S. Individual Life Insurance Sales Survey represents approximately 80 percent of the U.S. individual life insurance annualized premium market.
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