Total annuity sales improved 11 percent in the first quarter of 2014, compared to the first quarter of 2013, totaling $57.7 billion according to the LIMRA Secure Retirement Institute (LIMRA SRI).
Annuity sales were driven largely by fixed annuity sales, which experienced a 43 percent increase in the first quarter, compared to prior year, reaching $23.5 billion.
“Despite recent declines in interest rates – falling from just over 3 percent at the end of 2013 to 2.7 percent at the end of the first quarter- we are still predicting approximately 10 percent growth for fixed annuities in 2014,” said Todd Giesing, senior analyst, LIMRA SRI Annuity Research.
Fixed-rate deferred annuities – Book Value and MVA – had another robust quarter, increasing 48 percent in the first quarter to reach $8 billion.
Indexed annuity sales rose 43 percent in the first quarter, totaling $11.3 billion. Product innovation has played an important role in growing the indexed annuity market – especially in new distribution channels. More companies are introducing uncapped crediting strategies that utilize volatility-controlled indices to manage the risk.
First quarter indexed annuity sales through the bank and independent broker-dealer (IBD) channels reported significant growth. In the first quarter of 2013, IBDs represented just 3 percent of the indexed annuity market. As of first quarter 2014, IBDs represent 13 percent of the market. Banks also saw substantial growth from 10 percent of the market in first quarter 2013 to 16 percent in the first quarter of this year.
“The increases in the banks and IBD channel are encouraging because they represent organic growth” noted Giesing. “Traditionally, independent agents have represented most of the indexed annuity sales. Recent sales growth in the bank and IBD channels has not detracted from the independent agent channel, which increased 15 percent in the first quarter.”
Indexed annuity guaranteed living benefits (GLBs) election rates were 68 percent (when available) in the first quarter.
Deferred income annuities (DIA) reached $620 million in the first quarter, 57 percent higher than prior year. Yet, compared to fourth quarter 2013 sales, DIA sales were down 13 percent, representing the first quarter over quarter decline for DIA products since LIMRA SRI began tracking them. With five additional companies entering the DIA market in 2013 and more expected in 2014, LIMRA SRI expects DIA market to continue to experience strong growth over the next several quarters.
Single premium immediate annuity sales improved 47 percent in the first quarter to reach $2.5 billion.
VA sales fell 3 percent in the first quarter, to $34.2 billion. This is the lowest level VA sales have been in first quarter 2010.
LIMRA SRI has noted a shift in the annuity market: In the first quarter of 2013, VA sales represented 68 percent of the total market share. A year later, VA sales only made up 59 percent of the total market.
Election rates for GLB riders were elected 79 percent (when available) in the first quarter. Increased focus on accumulation and tax deferral, as well as changes in GLB riders has impacted election rates of these riders.
LIMRA Secure Retirement Institute’s fourth quarter U.S. Individual Annuities Sales Survey represents data from 95 percent of the market.