Variable life insurance sales with single premiums included at 10% for the 35 companies reporting in the VALUE survey for the fourth quarter of 2009 were $366.1 million. This 28% increase over third quarter 2009 sales, which were $286 million, exhibited a typical seasonality trend of life insurance sales. However, the fourth quarter results were off 25% from fourth quarter 2008 sales, which totaled $488 million.

Full year 2009 sales were 45.9% lower than full-year 2008 sales. (Sales include first-year annualized premium, drop-in premiums and 10% of single premiums.)

The market estimate for the fourth quarter of 2009 with single premiums included at 10% is $410 million, while the full-year estimate is $1.4 billion.

Variable life sales with single premiums included at 100% for the companies in the VALUE survey for the fourth quarter of 2009 were $368 million, a 27.6% increase from third quarter 2009, which had sales of $288 million, and a 25.8% decrease from fourth quarter 2008 sales, which were $496 million.

The market estimate for the full-year 2009 with single premiums included at 100% is $1.4 billion, down from $2.47 billion for the full-year 2008.

For 2009, the top five companies/fleets–John Hancock, AXA Financial/MONY, Pacific Life, Hartford Life and Lincoln National–captured 63% of all variable life sales (including single premiums at 10%), while the top 10 companies/fleets garnered 83% of VL sales.

For the companies in the survey, the number of flexible-premium contracts issued during 2009 decreased 57% from the number issued during 2008. The average face amount decreased 2% to $427,249.

The total premium for second-to-die products issued during 2009 for the companies in the survey was $144.9 million, compared to $360 million during 2008.

The number of second-to-die contracts (including single-premium and flexible-premium products) issued during 2009 decreased 49% from 2008. The average face amount decreased 22% to $2,192,734.

For the companies reporting sales by distribution channel for 2009, career agents dominated flexible-premium variable life sales, capturing 55% of the market, while independent broker-dealer firms had 31%.

Independent broker-dealer firms continued to dominate second-to-die variable life sales, capturing 57% of the market. Career agents and wirehouses garnered 19% and 14%, respectively.

As of Dec. 31, 2009, total variable life assets for the companies reporting in VALUE were $106.9 billion, up almost 17% from $91.6 billion reported on Dec. 31, 2008. Of the total assets reported, 89% were held in a separate account.

Fixed account interest rates on VL policies remained relatively stable. The average one-year interest rate was 4.29% on Dec. 31, 2009, the same as on Sept. 30, 2009. The average renewal rate was 4.33%, what it was on Sept. 30, 2009.

Variable Life Survey Forth Quarter 2009

Leah Wolf is with Towers Watson, of which Tillinghast is a business. She can be reached at leah.wolf@towerswatson.com