U.S. individual annuity sales were 10% higher in the second quarter than they were in the second quarter of 2010, according to the Insured Retirement Institute (IRI).

IRI, Washington, has published that figure in a report based on data from Beacon Research Publications Inc., Evanston, Ill., and Morningstar Inc., Chicago.

Total individual annuity sales increased to $60 billion, from $55 billion, IRI says.

Fixed annuity sales (FA) held steady at about $20 billion.

Indexed annuity sales fell 2.4%, to $8.4 billion.

Variable annuity (VA) sales fell 16%, to $40 billion.

The percentage of variable assets invested in stocks increased 1.5 percentage points, to about 44%.

Beacon Research President Jeremy Alexander notes in a statement about the results that FA sales were stable even though interest rates are even lower now than they were a year ago.

“Though rates have continued to decline, there has been a general flight to safety that may make the third quarter another strong one for fixed annuities,” Alexander says.

Frank O’Connor, insurance solutions director at Morningstar, says enthusiasm for VA product guarantees helped VA sales despite the recent increase in stock market volatility.

Other annuity sales coverage from National Underwriter Life & Health: