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Variable Universal Life Won Life Insurance in 2018

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U.S. sales of individual life insurance were just okay in 2018, but sales of individual variable universal life (VUL) insurance were great.

Annualized premiums from new U.S. individual life policies sold increased by less than 0.5% in 2018, and the total number of new individual policies sold fell by about 0.5%, according to new issuer survey data from LIMRA.

VUL policies account for just 8% of individual life premiums.

But annualized premiums from new VUL sales increased by 14%, and the number of policies sold increased by 9%.

(Related: Strong VUL Premium Pumps Up Life Sales: LIMRA)

LIMRA tracks sales of universal life, term life and whole life as well as sales of VUL coverage. The number of non-VUL policies sold in 2018 fell by about 5%.

The insurers that participate in the LIMRA life survey program account for about 80% of U.S. life premium revenue, according to LIMRA data.

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LIMRA does not include the actual policy counts or premium totals in the survey results summary available to the public.

But LIMRA estimated in a separate report, in January, that issuers generated about $14.2 billion in new annualized premiums from individual life in 2018, and $14.5 billion in new annualized premiums from individual life in 2019.

The American Council of Life Insurers has reported that U.S. residents bought 10.5 million individual life insurance policies in 2017.

ThinkAdvisor calculations based on LIMRA and ACLI figures suggest that annualized premiums from new individual life policies have been averaging about $1,300 to $1,400 per policy.

Here’s what happened to the number of new policies sold in the fourth quarter, when compared with sales for the fourth quarter of 2017:

  • Universal Life (37% of the market): -4%
  • VUL (8% of the market): +10%
  • Term Life (20% of the market):  +1%
  • Whole Life (35% of the market): -0.5%


A link to the new LIMRA survey summary is available here.

— Read Life Activity Continues to Move in a Strange Wayon ThinkAdvisor.

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