That things are bad is no secret.  But every once in a while, as we slog through this meltdown, a statistic or set of data just pops out and reminds you that no matter how bad you thought things were, they’re worse.

What did it for me this week was reading through LIMRA International’s release on first quarter sales figures of the spectrum of life insurance products.

Even old-timers might have a hard time remembering when sales took such a nosedive, since as LIMRA’s CEO Bob Kerzner remarked, “…the last time quarterly sales dropped this much was in 1943.”  (And if you’re one of those who can sit around the cracker barrel and reminisce, “If you think this is bad, sonny, you should have been around in the summer of ’43…”, well, all the more power to you.)

Overall, LIMRA reports, premium from individual life sales dropped, slid, plunged, plummeted, nosedived (take your pick) an amazing 26% from the year before.

Every product line was hit, LIMRA says, with variable life premium off a massive 61%.   Universal life, down 33%.  Variable UL, off 61%. 

The only two lines that didn’t enter double-digit loss territory were term (off  4%) and whole life (down 5%).

Additionally, totals for face amount and number of policies sold were off 8% in both cases.

These stats alone show how much people are hurting and how far down on the totem pole life insurance (unfortunately) sits when filling your stomach, keeping the roof over your head or the repo guys at bay are more important and pressing than what’s going to happen if you die.  Some of these people, after all, feel like they’re dying every day.