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Annuity statistic roundup: keeping up with the latest annuities news is like staying up to date on every Charlie Sheen/Lindsay Lohan/Miley Cyrus scandal: next to impossible. Here's your numeric cheat sheet, a snapshot of 2010 annuity performance, buyer statistics, the top-sellers and more.

If you've been paying attention to financial news, you've probably noticed the headline-making year annuities had in 2010: "Variable annuity assets hit record high," "Annuity sales rise," "Indexed annuity sales up."

But headlines don't tell the whole story. Annuities had a somewhat mixed year, with variable and indexed annuities taking off while fixed annuities dipped. And if you were just scanning the headlines, you likely missed crucial details about who's selling annuities, who's buying them and what the future holds. This by-the-numbers guide breaks it all down.

2010: NOT AS GOOD AS 2009

Overall, annuities sales slipped a bit in 2010. Most analysts blame the slight drop on the performance of fixed annuities.

$209 BILLION:

2010 TOTAL ANNUITY SALES, DOWN FROM $229 BILLION IN 2009

7% DECREASE IN INDIVIDUAL ANNUITY SALES FROM 2009

Sources: LIMRA's U.S. Individual Annuities Fourth Quarter 2010 Sales Report, IRIS Fourth Quarter and Year-End 2010 Results Report

FIXED ANNUITIES, WHAT A DOWNER

Fixed annuities had a great 2009, but 2010 was clearly not their year. Most analysts attribute the fall to expectations that interest rates will rise. Sales are expected to improve once there's more certainty about interest rates. "Unlike the year-ago quarter, rates were rising in fourth quarter 2010," says Jeremy Alexander, president and CEO of Beacon Research. "This created a disincentive to lock in available fixed annuity rates. These expectations also were a factor in the quarter-to-quarter sales decline. In addition, the spread between corporate bond and Treasury rates narrowed sequentially. Fixed annuities are backed mainly by bonds, so this made their rates relatively less competitive. But on a year-over-year basis, fixed indexed and income annuity sales did grow and we expect that overall results will increase when the rate environment improves."

$104.2 BILLION: FIXED ANNUITY SALES IN 2009

$71.7 BILLION: FIXED ANNUITY SALES IN 2010 A DROP OF 31.2%

Source: IRI's Fourth Quarter and Year-End 2010 Results Report

VARIABLE ANNUITIES: WAY HOT

Sales of variable annuities took off in 2010, reaching the highest levels Morningstar analysts have seen since they began tracking VA data in 1992. Most agree the product's popularity has a lot to do with 2010's strong equities market, though rising consumer awareness of annuities might have played a role, too. "We attribute the growth to increased confidence in the VA market by consumers, advisors and the companies themselves," says Joseph Montminy, assistant vice president for LIMRA's annuity research. "We saw growth in almost two-thirds of the VA industry in 2010. Strong growth in the equities market and continued interest in guarantee income riders drove fourth quarter VA sales to its highest level in more than two years."

$140.5 BILLION: VARIABLE ANNUITY SALES IN 2010, AN INCREASE OF 10% FROM 2009

$37.6 BILLION: VARIABLE ANNUITY SALES IN 4Q 2010, UP 18% OVER 4Q 2009 ($31.9 BILLION) AND UP 10% OVER 3Q 2010 ($34.2 BILLION)

Source: IRI's Fourth Quarter and Year-End 2010 Results Report

INDEXED ANNUITIES SHINE

Indexed annuities followed a record-setting 2009 with a record-breaking 2010. Indexed annuities improved on 2009 sales and outperformed fixed-rate deferred annuities for the first time in the fourth quarter of 2010. Allianz Life has reaped the benefits, with a 23% market share as the No. 1 carrier in the market and MasterDex X, the top-selling indexed annuity product for the seventh consecutive quarter. "I predicted that we'd continue to see record sales of indexed annuities after the market collapsed in 2008, and I'm happy to see that has proven accurate--three years running," says Sheryl J. Moore, president and CEO of AnnuitySpecs. com. "Now that indexed annuities account for 40% of all fixed annuities sold, insurance companies not offering these products won't be able to turn away any longer."

$32.1 BILLION: INDEXED ANNUITIES SALES IN 2010, UP 7% FROM 2009

Source: LIMRA's U.S. Individual Annuities Fourth Quarter 2010 Sales Report

43%: INDEXED ANNUITIES SHARE OF FIXED ANNUITY SALES IN 4Q 2010

WHO'S BUYING ANNUITIES?

Annuities continue to be popular with current and soon-to-be retirees, as a majority of advisors say they choose annuities for clients who need retirement income. A recent Insured Retirement Institute (IRI) report found that annuities are especially popular with middle-income clients. "Today, the personal responsibility attached to retirement income is at an all-time high," says Cathy Weatherford, IRI president and CEO. "Millions of Americans are looking for ways to provide themselves with the 'mailbox money' that will give them a guaranteed paycheck for life. Annuities, and their tax-deferred status, are uniquely poised to provide middle-class Americans with the retirement peace of mind they seek."

60% OF IMMEDIATE ANNUITY CONTRACTS ARE SOLD TO WOMEN

73: AVERAGE AGE FOR AN IMMEDIATE ANNUITY PURCHASE

$107,000: AVERAGE IMMEDIATE ANNUITY PREMIUM

80% OF ANNUITY BUYERS HAVE INCOMES OF LESS THAN $100,000

56% OF ANNUITY OWNERS SAY THE DEFERRAL OF TAXES ON THE INSIDE BUILDUP OF ANNUITY CONTRACTS WAS A KEY SELLING POINT FOR THEM

Sources: LIMRA's Guaranteed Income Annuities Report; IRI's The Tax Advantages of Annuities: How Tax Deferral and Guaranteed Lifetime Income Strategies Can Benefit All Consumers; IRI's 2010 Annuity Distribution Survey

FUTURE LOOKS BRIGHT

Most projections show continued strength for annuities in the years ahead, thanks to the "Baby Boomer tsunami" of retirees that began this year. Most reports find, however, that increased educational efforts are needed to better inform new advisors as well as consumers about annuities. "Considering the awareness of insured retirement strategies remains low with consumers and new advisors, insurers will have a genuine opportunity to reach new audiences through education, training tools and information," Weatherford says. "By increasing the awareness of the overall value proposition annuities can offer, the industry will see an even greater acceptance of insured retirement strategies from advisors and consumers alike in the coming year."

$250 BILLION: ESTIMATED UNREALIZED ANNUITIZATION MARKET

$12 BILLION: ANNUAL FIXED IMMEDIATE ANNUITY SALES BY 2014, ACCORDING TO PROJECTIONS

60% OF CONSUMERS ARE UNFAMILIAR WITH OR HAVE NO OPINION OF ANNUITIES

Source: LIMRA's Guaranteed Income Annuities Report, IRI's 2010 Annuity Distribution Survey

Corey Dahl is managing editor of Life Insurance Selling.
TOP 5

ANNUITY SELLERS IN 2010

ALL TYPES
Prudential Annuities $23.3 billion
MetLife $20.7 billion
Jackson National Life $17.6 billion
TIAA-CREF $13.8 billion
AIG Companies $12.7 billion

VARIABLE ANNUITIES
Prudential Annuities $21.6 billion
MetLife $18.2 billion
Jackson National Life $14.6 billion
TIAA-CREF $13.8 billion
Lincoln Financial Group $8.9 billion

FIXED ANNUITIES
Allianz Life of North America $7.1 billion
New York Life $6.7 billion
AIG Companies $6.3 billion
AVIVA $5.7 billion
American Equity Investment Life $4.6 billion

Source: LIMRA's U.S. Individual Annuity Sales Survey
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Title Annotation:ANNUITIES
Author:Dahl, Corey
Publication:Life Insurance Selling
Date:Apr 1, 2011
Words:1109
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