Guaranteed living benefit riders were elected 87% of the time on variable annuities offering the features during the first quarter, according to LIMRA.

The first-quarter rate is down slightly from the 89% annual election rate in 2009, say researchers at LIMRA, Windsor, Conn.

However, VA assets in products with guaranteed living benefits increased 7% in the first quarter when compared with end of 2009, while total VA assets increased just 3% in the same period, the researchers write in a new annuity study.

Other first-quarter findings:

- The election rate held steady for one type of guaranteed living benefit rider — the guaranteed lifetime withdrawal benefit rider. When any type of guaranteed living benefit was available for purchase, the election rate for this rider remained at 64%, the researchers say.

- Guaranteed minimum income benefit riders were elected 16% of the time.

- Guaranteed minimum accumulation benefit riders had a 4% market share.

- Guaranteed living benefits were elected in VAs representing an estimated $17.2 billion in premium. That is out of $19.8 billion in new deferred VA premium where GLB was available.

- The rate at which any guaranteed living benefit rider was elected rose 2% in the wirehouse/regional channel (90%), held steady in the career distribution channel (73%), and dropped 1% each in the independent channel (90%) and bank channel (91%)

The study covers data from 26 participants representing 94% of first-quarter industry VA sales in which a GLB was elected, the researchers say.

“Consumers continue to choose GLBs to ensure their retirement security,” says Dan Beatrice, senior analyst at LIMRA Retirement Research. “The importance of the guaranteed paycheck-for-life to consumers is evident as guaranteed lifetime withdrawal benefit riders represent three-quarters of all new premium sold with a living benefit rider.”