Annuity sales down in Q1 News added by Benefits Pro on May 29, 2013

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By Paula Aven Gladych

Annuity sales fell 6 percent in the first quarter of 2013 compared to the same period last year, according to LIMRA.

Overall sales of annuities totaled $51.7 billion, according to LIMRA’s first-quarter 2013 U.S. Individual Annuities Sales survey, which represents data from 94 percent of the market.

Variable annuity sales, meanwhile, were down 4 percent to $35.5 billion quarter-over-quarter , though that was a 1 percent increase over the fourth quarter of 2012.

“VA sales continue to struggle despite sustained equity market gains,” said Joseph Montminy, assistant vice president and director of LIMRA annuity research. “In addition, all significant fixed annuity product types declined in the first quarter of 2013.

"In many ways, the current market is more challenging to many annuity manufacturers than the recent financial crisis.”

Total fixed annuity sales slipped to $16.2 billion in the first quarter, falling 11 percent compared with the prior year.

After record high sales in 2011 and 2012, first-quarter indexed annuity sales dropped 4 percent to $7.8 billion, its lowest level in two years. Election rates of guaranteed lifetime withdrawal benefit riders on indexed annuities remain strong. In the first quarter, 72 percent of consumers elected a GLWB rider, when available. LIMRA estimates that 88 percent of indexed annuities products in the market offer GLWB riders.

Elsewhere, sales of deferred income annuities reached $395 million in the first quarter of 2013, 147 percent higher than the first quarter of 2012. Since the start of 2012, four companies have entered the DIA market. The growing interest in this market has existing players launching new or refined products, while other companies are exploring whether to enter the market.

Fixed immediate annuities fell 6 percent in the first quarter, totaling $1.7 billion.

Fixed-rate deferred annuity sales experienced another quarter of steep declines, down 25 percent in the first quarter to $5.2 billion. To put this into perspective, sales of fixed-rate deferred annuities in the first quarter of 2009 were $26 billion, down 80 percent in four years.

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

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