In the first six months of 2021, the total number of policies sold increased 8%, compared with prior year results. This is the highest policy sales growth recorded since 1983, according to LIMRA’s Second Quarter U.S. Individual Life Insurance Sales Survey.
Total U.S. life insurance premium increased 21% in the second quarter 2021, the largest year-over-year increase since third quarter 1987. For the first half of 2021, total premium increased 18%, compared with the first six months of 2020.
“According to the 2021 Insurance Barometer study, 36% of Americans said they planned to purchase life insurance this year. For the second consecutive quarter, we see this purchase intent translate into strong sales results,” said David Levenson, president and CEO, LIMRA, LOMA and LL Global. “Following the record life insurance sales in the first quarter, most companies are reporting significant growth in premium and policy sales in the second quarter. Eight in 10 carriers reported positive premium growth, including each of the top 10 carriers.”
Whole life new premium jumped 25% in the second quarter and policy count increased 5%, compared with prior year. Whole life product sales experienced the largest growth in terms of absolute dollars and policies sold. Three quarters of whole life carriers reported positive growth, including nine of the top 10 carriers. Year to date (YTD), whole life premium was 22% higher than sales in the first six months of 2020. Whole life represented 36% of the U.S. life insurance market in the second quarter.
“Last year, because of the shutdown, people were unable to meet with their advisors in person, and we saw significant growth in direct-to-consumer distribution for whole life products. In the second quarter 2020, D2C whole life sales rose by 33%,” noted Levenson. “In contrast, whole life sales growth this quarter was driven by independent and affiliated agent sales as the vaccines became available and more of the country opened.”
Indexed UL new premium grew 20% in the second quarter, up 17% YTD. Fixed UL new premium rose 7% for the quarter. In the first six months of 2021, fixed UL premium fell 2%.
Indexed UL represented 24% of total the premium in the second quarter. Fixed UL market share was 8%.
Variable UL (VUL) new premium grew 69%, compared with prior year results, representing the 15th consecutive quarter of premium increases. All but three VUL carriers reported double-digit increases. YTD, VUL premium increased 62% from prior year. While protection-focused VUL sales continued to increase (up 27% in the second quarter), accumulation-focused VUL sales jumped up 144% and claimed just over half the new VUL premium.
Continued low interest rates, strong equity markets and recent changes to tax law (IRC 7702) have made VUL products more attractive to consumers, driving their growth over the past several quarters. VUL held 11% market share in the second quarter. This is the highest market share for VUL since 2008.
In the second quarter, term life new premium was 8% higher than prior year with 65% of carriers reporting increases. In the first six months of 2021, term life new premium also increased 8%. Term life market share was 21% in the second quarter.
“COVID-19 has raised consumers’ awareness about the importance of having life insurance coverage. Nearly a third of consumers (31%) said they were more likely to purchase coverage due the pandemic,” noted Levenson. “This is so important because too many Americans live with a life insurance coverage gap, leaving their loved ones’ financial security at risk. As we celebrate Life Insurance Awareness Month in September and continue our year-long Help Protect Our Families campaign, let’s double our efforts to educate Americans about the importance of having adequate life insurance coverage.”
LIMRA’s Second Quarter 2021 U.S. Individual Life Insurance Sales Survey represents approximately 80% of the U.S. individual life insurance annualized premium market.