Individual life sales keep growingNews added by Benefits Pro on March 8, 2013

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By Kathryn Mayer

Total individual life insurance new annualized premium grew 6 percent in 2012—marking the third straight year of growth, LIMRA reported Thursday.

Total individual life premium grew 12 percent in the fourth quarter, the largest growth recorded since the downturn. The number of life insurance policies sold grew 1 percent for the year, making 2012 the second consecutive year of positive annual policy growth, the research and consulting firm said.

The last time individual policy count increased two years in a row was in 1980-1981, when policy count grew 3 and 7 percent, respectively.

Ashley Durham, senior analyst, LIMRA Product Research, said 2012’s fourth quarter was the biggest quarter for life insurance sales in a long time.

“We haven’t seen a quarter in which all of the major product lines experienced growth since 2006,” she said. “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 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.

Whole life sales were also strong: 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 was relatively flat for the year, though it experienced some fourth quarter growth. That was also the case with variable universal life premium, which increased 16 percent in the fourth quarter of 2012, mainly due to sales of COLI and private placement, but was flat overall in 2012.

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