Whole Life Bolsters US Insurance Sales

By Andrew Rickard | September 08 2014 01:06PM

Individual life insurance sales are still down in the United States when measured by the number of new policies but, thanks to whole life insurance, total annualized insurance premiums increased during the second quarter of 2014.

On September 3 the Life Insurance Marketing and Research Association (LIMRA) released its sales report for US individual life insurance sales in the second quarter. The data shows that new annualized premiums for whole life increased 6% in the quarter, bringing total annualized premiums for all life products up by 1% for the period. Year to date, however, annualized premiums across all lines are still off by 4%, as is the number of policies sold, which is down by 3% for the first half of the year.

"Holding 34% of the market, whole life's rebound from a weak first quarter fueled the positive second quarter results for overall individual life premium," comments Benjamin Baldwin, associate analyst at LIMRA Insurance Research. "Over the past six years, whole life has demonstrated strong, consistent growth, which has buoyed overall insurance sales."

Universal insurance (UL) fared particularly poorly with new annualized premium declining by 8% in the second quarter and by 13% during the first half of the year. LIMRA notes that a 33% drop in guaranteed UL in the second quarter contributed substantially to the product’s overall performance.

Variable universal life (VUL), however, rose substantially, with sales up by 30% in the second quarter and by 23% year-to-date. LIMRA says that all of the top ten carriers in the US experienced positive growth in this category during the first half of the year, although it points out that VUL only represents 7% of total life insurance sales.

As for term life insurance, premiums were down by 2% in the second quarter and have declined by 3% year-to-date. The product’s market share remained steady at 23% during the quarter.

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