Fixed indexed annuity sales hit a new record in the second quarter of 2009, according to AnnuitySpecs.com.

Total sales were $8.3 billion–up 18.3% from the previous quarter and up 21.2% from the second quarter of 2008, says Sheryl J. Moore, president and chief executive officer of the Des Moines, Iowa, annuity tracking service.

The previous sales record for indexed annuities was posted in the second quarter of 2005, when sales nearly reached $7.5 billion, according to AnnuitySpecs.

The 2009 results come from 47 indexed annuity companies representing 99% of indexed annuity production, says Moore. The data appear in her firm’s Advantage Index Sales & Market Report, 2nd Quarter 2009.

The second quarter sales increase occurred despite the challenging economy, scarce capital and the many changes that annuity carriers made to their products, says Moore.

The product changes include reduced commission percentages, lower premium bonuses, increased minimum premiums, and lowered issue ages, she says.

In addition, “many indexed annuity carriers have terminated agents, stopped accepting new agent appointments, and put moratoriums on 1035 exchange business,” she says.

Also, the number of index annuities has declined to 266, from 333 one year ago, she says.

Carriers have declined, too: one year ago, 59 companies offered the product.

Due to so many changes, Moore terms the second quarter index annuity results “remarkable.”

She attributes the sales increase to the “flight to guarantees” from the equity markets. Indexed annuity carriers that also sell variable annuities are seeing their variable annuity sales fall even as their indexed annuity sales go up, she points out.

Also, she says her firm has experienced an uptick in consumers calling for information about indexed annuities. “They keep asking if indexed annuities provide guarantees or promise that the owners won’t lose their money.”

Other second quarter results:

- The sales leader for the quarter was Aviva, with a 20% share in the market, according to the Advantage report.

- The top selling indexed annuity was Allianz Life’s MasterDex X, the report says.

Indexed life sales also saw increases in the second quarter, says Moore, who is also president of LifeSpecs.com. The sales were $132.4 million, up nearly 26% from the previous quarter and up 3% from the same period in 2008. The data is from 32 carriers representing 100% of production and appears in the Advantage Index Sales & Market Report, 2nd Quarter 2009.

AnnuitySpecs.com and LifeSpecs.com are online tools of Advantage Group Associates Inc., Des Moines, a research firm that Moore also heads up.