NU Online News Service, Sept. 2, 2004, 5:52 p.m. EDT

U.S. life sales sputtered in the second quarter despite a rebound in sales of variable life products.[@@]

The number of new U.S. individual life policies sold was 2% lower during the second quarter than it was during the second quarter of 2003, according to LIMRA International, Windsor, Conn.

Universal life sales revenue soared 30% in the first quarter but flattened out in the second quarter.

Term life sales revenue rose 7%, and sales of variable life and variable universal life jumped 15%.

The 15% increase in variable product sales might be a sign that low returns on fixed-rate products and the return of some stability to the stock market are tempting consumers to accept more investment risk, experts say.

Stock market turmoil has hit variable product sales hard in recent years, and variable product sales dropped 8% during the first quarter. But Elaine Tumicki, head of LIMRA’s product research unit, predicted accurately at the end of the first quarter that 2003 stock market gains would bring about a revival in variable product sales.