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Sales of fixed indexed annuities edged up in the third quarter, according to a new report.

AnnuitySpecs.com, Pleasant Hill, Iowa, published this finding in a summary of results from its Indexed Sales & Market Report. Forty-five indexed annuity carriers participated in the 61st edition of the report, representing 99 percent of indexed annuity production.

The report discloses that third quarter sales of fixed indexed annuities totaled $8.7 billion, up 0.04 percent from the previous quarter. As compared to the same period last year, sales were up 0.24 percent.

“This quarter’s sales were only half of one percent lower than third quarter 2010’s record-setting indexed annuity sales levels,” says Sheryl Moore, President and CEO of Moore Market Intelligence, the firm that owns AnnuitySpecs.com.

The report reveals that Allianz Life maintained its position as the #1 carrier in indexed annuities with a 14 percent market share. Aviva maintained its position as the second-ranked company, while Security Benefit Life, American Equity and Great American rounded-out the top five, respectively.

Security Benefit Life’s Total Value Annuity was the #1 selling indexed annuity for the quarter.

Although fixed interest rates continued their downward trend, Guaranteed Lifetime Withdrawal Benefit (GLWB) elections dropped for the third consecutive quarter.

The report attributes the decline in GLWB elections to four increases made to GLWB rider charges, eight reductions applied to the riders’ rollups and sixteen instances of reductions made to the riders’ payouts. The “de-risking” of these benefits over the quarter made income-based indexed annuity sales just as challenging as those based on accumulation, the report states.

For indexed life sales, 48 insurance carriers participated in the AnnuitySpecs.com’s Indexed Sales & Market Report, representing over 99 percent of production.

Third quarter sales totaled $322.1 million, an increase of nearly 8 percent as compared to the previous quarter. In contrast to the same period in 2011, sales were up more than 28 percent.

Aviva retained its #1 position in indexed life sales, with a 13 percent market share. Pacific Life took the second-ranked position, while AXA Equitable, AEGON Companies, and National Life Group rounded-out the top five companies, respectively.

AXA Equitable’s Athena Indexed UL was the #1 selling indexed life insurance product for the sixth consecutive quarter. The average target premium on indexed life declined to $8,700.00 for the quarter, the report finds.