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LIMRA: Individual life insurance premium increases in Q1 2016

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Individual life insurance new annualized premium increased 4 percent in first quarter 2016 compared with first quarter 2015. This marks the seventh consecutive quarter of positive growth, according to the LIMRA U.S. Retail Individual Life Insurance Sales Survey.

“Individual life insurance sales had a good start to the year with growth across all major product lines except variable universal life,” says LIMRA Insurance Research Associate Director Ashley Durham in a press statement. “Consistent with 2015, whole life and indexed universal life (IUL) drove the overall growth in first quarter 2016.  With the market volatility, it’s not surprising that people are attracted to the protection and guarantees these products offer.”

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The total number of policies sold in the first quarter increased 3 percent, compared with prior year.  This is the 6th consecutive quarter of positive growth.

Universal life (UL) new annualized premium improved 1 percent in the first quarter 2016. Declines in lifetime guaranteed universal life and current assumption UL countered the strong IUL sales in the first three months of 2016.  

IUL new annualized premium increased 13 percent in the quarter despite the changes to the illustration regulations late in 2015. IUL was the second biggest driver of overall individual life growth.  IUL now represents 56 percent of UL and 21 percent of all individual life premium.

Total UL premium represented 37 percent of all life insurance premium collected in the first quarter 2016.Variable universal life (VUL) new annualized premium fell 14 percent in the first quarter 2016. This is a stark change from a year ago when VUL premium jumped 21 percent.  It is likely market volatility at the start of the year dampened sales.

VUL’s market share dropped to 6 percent of total life sales in the first quarter.

Whole life (WL) products continue to enjoy positive growth.  In the first quarter, WL new annualized premium expanded 11 percent, and was the biggest contributor of total individual life premium growth. This follows 10 consecutive years of positive growth. WL products benefit from its guarantees and its dividend potential.  Sixty-five percent of the companies showed positive growth, including 7 of the top 10 carriers. 

WL now represents 36 percent of the total life market.

Term life insurance new premium grew 3 percent in the first quarter compared to prior year.  This is 6th consecutive quarter of growth. Participating companies indicated that capital requirements, low interest rates and competitive pricing make this market particularly challenging. 

Term’s market share was 21 percent in the quarter. View the latest data table on U.S. life insurance sales trends.

See the next page for a breakdown of individual life insurance growth rates by product. (Click on the chart to enlarge.)

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