The percentage of U.S. individual variable annuity (VA) sales value involving guaranteed living benefit (GLB) feature fell to 86% in the first quarter, from 87% in the first quarter of 2010.

Analysts at LIMRA, Windsor, Conn., have published those figures in a summary of the results from their latest quarterly survey of life insurers in the U.S. individual VA market.

When LIMRA asks about GLB features, it includes guaranteed lifetime withdrawal benefits, guaranteed minimum income benefits, guaranteed minimum accumulation benefits, guaranteed minimum withdrawal benefits, hybrid benefit guarantee features.

Insurers generated about $29 billion in VA sales during the latest quarter, and about $23 billion of those sales came with GLB elections, LIMRA analysts say.

For 8% of the sales value, a GLB feature was available but not taken; for 13% of the sales value, no GLB feature was available.

Although the first-quarter election rate was down only slightly from the election rate for the first quarter of 2010, it was the lowest GLB election rate LIMRA has recorded since the third quarter of 2008.

Career agents were far more likely than other retailers to sell guaranteed minimum accumulation benefits; banks were far more likely to sell hybrid guarantee features.

The total amount of VA assets backed by guarantees increased to $558 billion at the end of the first quarter, up 7% from the total at the end of 2010.

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CORRECTION: An earlier version of this article described the GLB election rate incorrectly. The election rate refers to the percentage of the value of VA sales for which a GLB feature has been elected.

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