The dial of a device that meters something (Image: iStock)

Variable universal life (VUL) insurance may account for only about 6% of new U.S. retail life insurance sales, but sales of that product continue to grow like a weed.

Insurers sold 8% more VUL policies in the first quarter than they sold in the first quarter of 2017, and annualized premiums from sales of new VUL policies increased 10%, according to new data from LIMRA.

The total value of the death benefits associated with those newly purchased VUL policies fell 1%. That drop helped increase the amount of revenue life insurers generated per $1,000 of coverage sold.

VUL was also hot in the fourth quarter of 2017: in the fourth quarter, annualized premium revenue from new VUL sales was 17% higher than in the year-earlier quarter.

(Related: Variable Universal Life Premiums Climb 17%: LIMRA)

LIMRA, a nonprofit life insurance research group, included the VUL sales numbers in a summary of results from its latest quarterly life insurer survey.

The summary gives the changes in percentage terms. To get the underlying numbers, market watchers have to pay for access to LIMRA data.

The Market As a Whole

LIMRA says the number of U.S. individual life policies sold in the first quarter was 3% lower than in the first quarter of 2017. Annualized premium revenue from new individual life policies was down 2%.

Universal Life

Universal life (UL) accounts for 37% of U.S. individual life sales. The number of UL policies sold in the first quarter fell 13%, year-over-year. Total annualized premium revenue from the policies sold fell 3%.

Whole Life

Whole life accounts for 36% of U.S. individual life sales. The number of whole life policies sold fell 1%, year-over year, in the first quarter. Total annualized premium revenue from new whole life policies fell 3%.

— Read also, on ThinkAdvisor:

— Connect with ThinkAdvisor Life/Health on Facebook and Twitter.