LIMRA's report on individual life insurance in Canada finds that premium sales grew by 25 per cent in 2021 compared with 2020. Report author Matthew Rubino says that life insurance premiums rose to $1.8 billion in 2021.

Rubino points out that only 1 of the 17 insurers participating in LIMRA's survey saw individual life insurance sales in terms of premiums decline in 2021 versus 2020. 

He adds that premiums were up 17 per cent in the fourth quarter of 2021, compared with Q4 2020. Premiums in Q4 2021 totalled $512 million, amounting to the most vigorous quarter of 2021. 

Universal life catches up with whole life 

In terms of growth, universal life premiums outpaced whole life premiums in the fourth quarter of 2021, compared with the same period in 2020. This situation had not been seen since Q2 2015, an analysis of past LIMRA reports reveals.  

All the same, whole life sales outperformed those of universal life for the full year 2021, compared with 2020. Term life sales were mixed. 

Growth of whole life premium sales slowed at the end of last year: in the fourth quarter of 2021, they grew 21 per cent compared with Q4 2020. By comparison, sales in the third quarter of 2021 rose 34 per cent compared with Q3 2020. 

Matthew Rubino says that fewer insurers are seeing whole life growth in the fourth quarter of 2021. He noted that 12 of the 17 LIMRA survey participants reported such growth, down from 14 of 17 in the third quarter of 2021. 

Whole life dominates premiums 

Whole life insurance reigns supreme, with total premiums of $1.149 billion in 2021. Term life sales accounted for $391.3 million in total premiums, and universal life sales represented $257.7 million in 2021. 

The total number of individual life insurance policies sold in Canada in 2021 was 691,689, LIMRA says. Term insurance dominated with 393,345 policies, followed by whole life with 187,612 policies, and universal life with 110,732 policies. 

National accounts on fire 

The year 2021 was marked by strong growth for the securities broker-affiliated (national accounts) distributor channel. This network surpassed the MGA network in annualized premiums, compared with 2020. The exclusive agent channel (career channel) did much more poorly, with negative results. 

The distribution channel that includes independent advisors, MGAs, and national accounts saw premium sales growth of 32 per cent in 2021, compared with 2020. Based on the same comparison period, the affiliated agents channel (which includes multi-line exclusive agents and career agents) achieved 3 per cent growth.