Life insurers had success with selling indexed annuities and whole life in the third quarter, but a tougher time with variable annuities and variable life products.

AnnuitySpecs.com

Indexed annuity sales totaled $7.5 billion in third quarter 2009, reports the AnnuitySpecs.com, Des Moines, Iowa.

That’s down nearly 10% from second quarter but up 11% from the same period last year, says Sheryl J. Moore, president and chief executive officer. Some companies’ sales rose more than 75% but others saw sales drop by almost 60% she says, citing new figures from her firm’s Advantage Index Sales & Market Report.

“The big story this quarter is the shake-up in rankings among the indexed annuity carriers,” says Moore. For instance, Allianz Life, Minneapolis, took back its position as the top sales leader, a position it last held in fourth quarter 2007, Moore says. American Equity, Des Moines, Iowa, moved up to second place while third, fourth and fifth place went to Lincoln National Corp., Radnor, Pa.; Jackson National Life Insurance Company, Lansing, Mich.; and Aviva USA, Des Moines, respectively.

The bank distribution channel has tripled its indexed annuity market share during the year, and it captured over 12% of all third quarter sales, Moore says.

Insured Retirement Institute

The IRI, Washington, says net variable annuity sales fell to $2.8 billion in the third quarter, from $4.9 billion in the third quarter of 2008, but that total sales fell somewhat less sharply, to $31 billion, from $38 billion.

Total VA assets increased to $1.3 trillion at the end of the third quarter, up 1.2% from a year earlier.

The year-over-year asset increase is the first the VA market has experienced in 5 quarters, the IRI says.

“The growth in asset value from this time last year marks a significant turning point for the entire financial industry, signaling a welcome expansion of investment value as the market regains strength,” IRI President Cathy Weatherford says in a statement. “With this new data we see that annuity asset values have regained their pre-market decline values, reporting the largest worth in 15 months. We are encouraged by this progress, as it bolsters the comprehensive value of insured retirement strategies.”

Kehrer-LIMRA

Bank annuity sales fell to $10.2 billion in the third quarter, down 26% compared to year-earlier levels of $13.8 billion, according to the Kehrer-LIMRA unit of LIMRA International, Windsor, Conn.

Banks’ fixed annuity sales in the quarter totaled $6.9 billion, while their variable annuity sales totaled $3.3 billion.

By the end of the third quarter a year earlier, FA sales in banks totaled $9.3 billion, and VAs totaled $4.5 billion.

Banks have reported drops in annuity sales for 5 straight quarters, according to Kehrer-LIMRA.

LIMRA International

The total number of U.S. individual life insurance policies sold was actually 1% in the third quarter than in the third quarter of 2008, according to LIMRA.

Premiums from individual whole life sales climbed 12%, and premiums from individual term life sales fell just 2%.

But sales of variable universal life were down 54%, and sales of variable life sank 64%, LIMRA reports.

Sales of universal life fell 14%.

Today, “whole life’s combination of features, such as simplicity, premium and cash value guarantees and low risk, is proving to be a winning one,” says Ashley Durham, LIMRA senior analyst for product research. “Mutual companies, which represent two-thirds of whole life sales, continue to fare better than the public companies, growing 14% for the quarter.”

Although sellers of variable products are struggling, UL sales seem to be starting to stabilize, Durham says.