A large majority of United States variable annuity buyers are electing to have living benefit guarantees on their policies.

More than 81% of VA purchasers chose to protect themselves with a lifetime guarantee of income in the first quarter, according to researchers who conducted a VA sales study for the Insured Retirement Institute, Washington.

The remaining 19% did not elect a living benefit.

The most popular lifetime guarantee that consumers chose was a lifetime withdrawal benefit, the researchers say.

The election data came from 12 carriers, and 13 companies provided sales flow data.

At those 13 carriers, about 70% of VA sales flowed into products offering the ability to take a set percentage withdrawal from the account for life, IRI says.

That is down from 78% in fourth quarter 2009, but IRI says the results show consumers still have a have strong interest in the ability to get a protected stream of income for life in the form of withdrawals.

LIMRA, another organization, recently reported that it believes 87% of VA buyers are electing some kind of guaranteed living benefit rider.