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U.S. life insurers took over more pension responsibility than they might have expected in 2018.

Full-year sales of group annuities used to transfer pension risk increased to about $26 billion in 2018, up 15% from the total for 2017, according to new issuer survey data from the LIMRA Secure Retirement Institute.

(Related: Pension Risk Transfer Volume Falls)

In June, Wayne Daniel, head of U.S. pensions at MetLife, predicted pension plan sponsors might use group annuities to transfer about $20 billion in pension risk in 2018.

Seventeen insurers participated in the latest group annuity issuer survey, up from 15 insurers for the survey for the fourth quarter of 2017.

Buyout product assets increased 18%, to about $136 billion.

The number of contracts increased 0.4%, to 29,632.

Eugene Noble, a research analyst who worked on the survey, said in a statement that strong midsize and large pension risk transfer deals helped drive sales up in 2018.

Resources

A summary of the new group annuity sales data, and a link to a data table, are available here.

— Read Investors Helping Life Insurers Shift to Pension Transfer Market: Analyston ThinkAdvisor.

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