U.S. life insurance new annualized premium increased 3% in the third quarter 2018, according to the latest LIMRA U.S. Retail Individual Life Insurance Sales Survey, released Nov. 29. Driven by strong indexed universal life (IUL) sales, this is the second consecutive quarter of positive growth.
“Market conditions continue to be favorable for IUL products. IUL premium has increased for the past eight consecutive quarters,” said Ashley Durham, associate research director, LIMRA Insurance Research. “IUL inherently includes protection against market related loss, and this protection combined with accumulation potential has propelled sales in the first three quarters of 2018. In fact, accumulation-focused IUL premium jumped 16% for the quarter and 19% year-to-date.”
In the third quarter, IUL new premium climbed 10% and 12% year-to-date. IUL premium represented 65% of UL premium, and 24% of all individual premium for the first three quarters.
Total universal life (UL) new annualized premium increased 1% in the third quarter. UL sales growth overall remained subdued by fixed (non-indexed) UL results. Product discontinuation and rate hikes (mainly related to persistently low interest rates) continued to beset the fixed UL market. In the first three quarters of 2018, UL premium was flat compared to last year. Total UL market share is 37%.
Lifetime Guarantee Universal Life (LTGUL) declined for the sixth consecutive quarter, down 10 percent in the third quarter. Year-to-date LTGUL fell 16%, compared with prior year. LTGUL represents 17% of UL sales and 6% of total life premiums.
“Variable universal life (VUL) new annualized premium increased 29% for the quarter and 14% year-to-date,” Durham noted. “Eight of the top 10 VUL writers improved their sales over third quarter 2017,driving this quarter’s growth. The top 10 writers represent 90% of the industry’s VUL premium. At the design level, products with a higher focus on protection were particularly successful; in fact, their share of VUL annualized premium reached 50% in 2018 as people increasingly balance safety with growth potential.”
VUL held a 6% market share of total individual life insurance in the first nine months of 2018.
Whole Life (WL) new annualized premium rose 3% in the third quarter. Four of the top 10 companies reported growth in the quarter.
Brokerage producers boosted WL sales over third quarter 2017. WL premium sold by insurance brokers — including BGAs — jumped 21%, compared with prior year. While affiliated WL premium was down 2% for the quarter, affiliated agents continued to hold the lion’s share of the WL market in terms of premium (at 64%).
Year-to-date, WL premium growth improved 1%. WL premium represented 36% of the total life market in the first nine months of 2018.
Term life insurance new premium grew 1% in the third quarter and year-to-date, compared with 2017. Forty-three percent of participating U.S. term writers reported increases for the quarter, and more than half of the top 20 term carriers reported positive growth.
Term life premium market share was 21% in the first three quarters of the 2018.
Year-to-date, total life insurance new annualized premium rose 1%, compared to the first three quarters of 2017. Policy count was flat in the third quarter and fell 1% in the first nine months of 2018.
LIMRA’s Third Quarter 2018 U.S. Individual Life Insurance Sales Survey represents approximately 80% of the U.S. individual life insurance annualized premium market.