Last year was a very good one for individual life insurance sales in Canada, according to LIMRA’s Canadian Individual Life Insurance Sales Survey, 2021. For the nine months ending September 30, annualized individual life insurance premiums climbed 28 per cent versus the same period in 2020.

LIMRA’s report on Q3 2021 results also mentions individual life insurance sales of $393 million in the third quarter of 2021, equal to growth of 24 per cent since Q3 2020. In fact, the third quarter of 2020 was the weakest of that year: Premiums sank to a low of $315 million. 

Matthew Rubino, LIMRA’s head of individual life insurance research, notes that whole life is fuelling year-to-date sales growth. “Only one participant reported a premium decline through the third quarter 2021. Fourteen out of seventeen participants reported whole life growth,” he points out. 

After years of sluggish growth, universal life sales rebounded significantly, both in the third quarter and for the first nine months of 2021. Term insurance saw more modest growth.

Whole life insurance accounted for 63 per cent of the $1.286 billion ($B) in premiums sold during the first three quarters of 2021. Term insurance made up 23 per cent, and universal life insurance 14 per cent. 

In the first three quarters of 2021, term insurance garnered 57 per cent of the 521,369 policies sold. Whole life insurance accounted for 27 per cent and universal life 16 per cent. 

Independents dominate 

The independent distribution channel continues to spearhead sales growth, both in the third quarter and for the first nine months of 2021. The national accounts channel delivered impressive results. The MGA channel was also vigorous, but the career channel faltered. 

In the first nine months of 2021, total sales in the independent channel (independent advisors, MGAs and national accounts) advanced by 36 per cent versus the same period in 2020. Within this channel, whole life powered 48 per cent of the growth, universal life 27 per cent and term life 10 per cent.

Also at the end of the first nine months of 2021, in the affiliated channel (career, multiple-line exclusive agent or MLEA) saw sales growth of 6 per cent compared with the same period in 2020. This network achieved 9 per cent growth in whole life and 8 per cent in term insurance. In universal life, affiliated network sales declined 16 per cent.