Life Insurance Sales Slump Eases

Aug 31st, 2009 | By Hot News Reporter | Category: Insurance Today

Annualized life insurance premium sales fell 23% in the first half of the year, the steepest slump in 67 years, but the rate of decline in the second quarter slowed from the quarter before, an industry association said Monday.

Life insurers have been battered the past year by billions of dollars in investment losses and write-downs amid the slumping stock market. Last month, the largest U.S. life insurer, MetLife Inc., swung to a loss on big investment losses linked to derivatives.
Industrywide premium sales fell 20% in the second quarter after a 26% drop in the first, said the Life Insurance Marketing and Research Association known as Limra. The organization is made up of life insurers and other financial firms.

Limra said policy counts continued to drop, down 4% in the second quarter and 6% in the first half. Every product declined in the most recent period except universal life, which increased 8%.

Variable sales, which have the strongest ties to the market, suffered most, down 50% in the second quarter and 55% percent in the first half. They had been among the biggest concerns for the life-insurance industry as the stock market slumped because such policies carry guaranteed minimum concerns. Without a rebound, observers were concerned if annuity sellers would be able to make good on the policies without falling into dire straits.

Whole life and term life insurance again were the most resilient, both posting sales declines in the low single digits in both periods.

However, Limra said that 40% of companies were able to increase their total individual life sales in the second quarter over the previous year. Yet in the first half, the policies that were sold were slightly smaller.


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