WASHINGTON, D.C. - The Insured Retirement Institute (IRI) on Feb. 25 announced fourth quarter results for the variable annuity industry. The net assets of United States variable annuities posted a double-digit increase in year-to-year quarter comparisons for the first time in eight quarters, advancing at a rate of 20.2%. The last time this comparison posted a double-digit increase was in September of 2007, at a rate of 15.3%.

“The surge in variable annuity assets is a clear indicator that we are indeed on a solid road to recovery,” said President and CEO of IRI, Cathy Weatherford. “While the road ahead may be a bumpy one, the stability and strength of insured retirement strategies is clearly apparent. More now than ever, older Americans are looking for dependable, trusted sources of retirement income that will withstand unpredictable fluctuations in the stock market. Annuities stand alone in guaranteeing lifetime income throughout retirement.”

Variable annuity sales for the fourth quarter were $31.9 billion, up slightly from $31 billion in the previous quarter. Fourth quarter 2009 net sales were $2.9 billion, compared to third quarter net sales of $2.8 billion. There were $21.9 billion in qualified sales and $10 billion in non-qualified in the fourth quarter. Total 2009 sales were $125.1 billion, compared to $154.8 billion in 2008.

“While we are pleased that sales were up slightly over previous quarter, it is not surprising that year-to-year sales were down,” Weatherford added. “Last year, variable annuity product development was occurring at a dynamic rate, with prospectus filings totaling more than 450 for the year. While 2009 will be noted as a year of change for insured retirement strategies, this year we will see these products further roll out in the market. As we return to simplicity, and further align our strategies to the needs of consumers, the industry is optimistic that these new products will gain further traction.”

Visit www.IRIonline.org for more information.

Click on the following link for additional 2009 annuity sales information: http://www.lifeinsuranceselling.com/Exclusives/2010/2/Pages/Indexed-annuities-set-record-in-2009-overall-annuity-sales-drop-18.aspx