Life insurers now offer some kind of guaranteed living benefit with most of the variable annuity contracts sold in the United States.

Researchers at Milliman, Seattle, an actuarial and consulting firm, have published that finding in a summary of results based on a survey of 19 carriers that offer at least one type of guarantee.

The participating carriers account for about 57% of new VA sales, the Milliman researchers estimate.

The researchers looked at guaranteed minimum income benefits, guaranteed minimum accumulation benefits, guaranteed minimum withdrawal benefits and guaranteed lifetime withdrawal benefits.

VA contracts that come with living benefits features or options accounted for about 95% of U.S. VA sales in the first half of 2007, up from 87% of U.S. VA sales in 2004, the Milliman researchers report.

About 5% of VA contracts now sold include a living benefit as a built-in option.

Policyholders who had a chance to buy optional living benefits with their VA contracts elected to buy living benefits 74% of the time during the first half of 2007, up from 56% in 2004, the Milliman researchers report.