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Total U.S. Annuity Industry Considerations Fall

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What You Need to Know

  • Northwestern, MetLife and Prudential all generated more than $10 billion in life premiums in 2020.
  • Jackson, TIAA and Lincoln stood at the top of the annuity rankings.
  • Considerations at the 25 biggest annuity issuers may have dropped about 5%.

U.S. life insurance businesses did better, in terms of revenue, than U.S. annuity businesses did in 2020.

The National Association of Insurance Commissioners, a Kansas City, Missouri-based group for insurance regulators, has published data supporting that conclusion in its latest life and fraternal market share report.

The NAIC expresses insurer size in terms of premium revenue, and other types of “considerations” that come in from customers, such as deposit-type contract funds, and the money consumers pay into annuities. Researchers at the group get the data from insurers’ financial reports.

Insurers’ total life insurance premium revenue fell 0.7% between 2019 and 2020, to $173 billion.

Total revenue at the 25 biggest life insurers increased 0.3%, to $122 billion.

At annuity issuers, total annuity considerations fell 4%, to $289 billion.

Total annuity considerations fell 5.5% at the 25 biggest annuity issuers, to $234 billion.

The Market Leaders

The biggest life insurers, with more than $10 billion in life insurance premium revenue in 2020, were New York Life, Northwestern Mutual and MetLife.

The three biggest annuity issuers, with more than $17 billion in annuity considerations each, were Jackson National, TIAA and Lincoln Financial.

Sammons Financial was the fastest-rising carrier.

Sammons jumped to rung 16, from 24, in the life premium rankings, and to 12, from 17, in the annuity considerations rankings.

Reasons

The COVID-19 pandemic hurt sales of both life and annuity products, by limiting financial professionals’ ability to meet with clients and prospects in person; by reducing some individuals’ and employers’ ability to pay for coverage; and by contribution to a drop in interest rates.

Life insurers care deeply about interest rates, because they use investments in corporate bonds and other fixed income investments to support life insurance and annuity obligations.

Life insurance benefited from a marketing force that annuities did not have: The power of COVID-19 to make people aware of the value of having protection against an early, unexpected death.

Executives from some companies said that their life sales were down in 2020 but that profits were strong because retention of in-force policies was higher than usual.

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