Individual life insurance sales grew in 2012, and the fourth quarter saw its largest jump since the recession began in 2008, according to a sales survey by financial research firm LIMRA.
The number of policies sold increased by 1 percent year over year, making 2012 the second consecutive year for growth. The last time the number of policies sold increased two years in a row was in 1980 and 1981.
Sales according to annual premiums paid on new policies grew 6 percent for the year and 12 percent in the fourth quarter, compared to the same period in 2011. The fourth-quarter increase was the largest recorded since the recession.
"We haven't seen a quarter in which all of the major product lines experienced growth since 2006," Ashley Durham, LIMRA's product research senior analyst, said in a press statement. "Fourth quarter 2012 had a few driving forces, including the continued attraction to guarantees and growth potential, corporate sales, and the anticipation of product changes related to revisions to Actuarial Guideline 38."
Universal life had the strongest performance of all the products in the fourth quarter, with sales, based on annual premiums, rising 20 percent. For the year, universal life premium on new policies rose 8 percent compared with 2011. But the number of universal policies sold fell 8 percent for the quarter and 3 percent for the year.
Whole life sales continued to be strong in the fourth quarter. Premium on new policies sold increased 6 percent in the fourth quarter, and 7 percent for the year. This is the seventh consecutive year of growth for whole life, according to LIMRA. The number of whole life policies sold rose 4 percent for the quarter and 5 percent for the year.
Total premium for new term life policies increased 4 percent in the fourth quarter and was flat for the year overall. LIMRA predicts term life sales will pick up as the economy improves.