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Global life insurance premiums fell in 2011, while prices began to harden in some markets and premiums grew for non-life insurance products, according to a new report.

Swiss Re, Armonk, N.Y., published this finding a new sigma study, “World Insurance in 2011: Non-Life Ready for Take-Off.” The study contains Swiss Re Economic Research & Consulting estimates and provisional data released by supervisory authorities and insurance associations.

Direct life insurance premiums declined 0.8% in real terms, the report says. However, direct premiums reached a record high of USD $5 billion in nominal terms, increasing 6% over 2010, as the U.S. dollar depreciated against the major currencies.

Global life insurance premiums shrank 2.7% and advanced markets—among them life-insurance funded wealth transfer, business, and charitable planning solutions—dipped 2.3%. The sharpest decline in the advanced markets spaced was observed in Western Europe, which plummeted 9.8%.

Accounting for much of the decline in Europe, the study says, were contractions of premiums in the U.K., as well as of in-force premiums in Germany, Italy, Portugal and Spain.

Meanwhile, premiums for the U.S. market grew moderately at 2.9%. Japan and the newly industrialized Asian countries ticked up 4.4%, well above their ten-year average.

Life insurance premiums in emerging markets dipped the most, declining 5.1%.

The study observes that life insurance premiums accounted for 57% (USD $2.6 billion) of total premiums in 2011. That’s down slightly from the 58% recorded in 2010.

The share is higher in advanced economies (58%) than in emerging markets (52%), mainly due to the low share of life insurance in the Middle East and Central and Eastern Europe, the study says.

Global non-life insurance premiums grew a moderate 1.9% in 2011. In advanced markets, the recession in Europe and weak growth in the U.S. kept premium growth to a mere 0.5%.

Emerging markets accounted for the largest decline in non-life insurance premiums worldwide, dropping 9.1%, the study finds.