Despite a slight dip in election rates, consumer interest in variable annuities with guaranteed living benefits remained high at the end of 2009. After four quarters with election rates at 89 percent or higher, the election rate for annuities with these benefits slid to 84 percent in the fourth quarter, according to a recent LIMRA study. The benefits’ popularity came primarily through new annuity purchases.

Variable annuity assets with guaranteed living benefits increased 41 percent to $411 billion at the end of 2009.

Among annuities with a guaranteed living benefit, nearly 75 percent of premiums went toward a guaranteed living withdrawal benefit rider, the report found. These riders accounted for nearly half of all variable annuity assets with a guaranteed living benefit by the end of 2009.

“Especially in this shaky economy, consumers are choosing security through GLBs,” Dan Beatrice, senior analyst, LIMRA Retirement Research, said in a press release. “Despite companies’ efforts to de-risk benefit riders, lowering their comparative attractiveness, 80 percent of new VA sales premium during the year went into contracts in which a GLB was elected.”