NU Online News Service, Nov. 19, 2003, 11:40 a.m. EST ? The recovering economy and stock market pushed up profits of the nation’s life and health insurers by $7.2 billion, or 214%, to $10.6 billion in the first six months of 2003, compared to the same period in 2002, according to Weiss Ratings Inc., Jupiter, Fla.

Weiss credits much of the industry’s steep profit increase to a $9 billion reduction in money flowing out of variable annuity accounts. The outflow fell to $14.2 billion for the first half of 2003, compared to a $23.2 billion outflow for the same period in 2002, Weiss says.

Life and health insurers reporting the largest reductions in VA outflows were Allmerica Financial, Worcester, Mass.; Golden American Life Insurance Company, Wilmington, Del.; Allstate Life Insurance Company, Northbrook, Ill.; Travelers Life & Annuity Company, Hartford; and Pacific Life Insurance Co., Newport Beach, Calif.

The recent rise in the equity market produced a $6.6 billion unrealized gain for the industry, contributing to an increase in capital and surplus of 12%, from $225.8 billion as of June 30, 2002 to $254.5 billion at June 30, 2003, Weiss reports.

Life and health insurers reporting the largest increases in capital and surplus were Metropolitan Life Insurance Co., New York; American General Life Insurance Company, Houston; SunAmerica Life Insurance Company, Los Angeles; Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company, Springfield, Mass.; and New York Life Insurance Company, New York.