Variable annuity sales increased from the 1st quarter of 2009 to the first quarter of 2010, according to Insurance News Net’s “US Sales of Variable Annuities See First Year-Over-Year Gain in Two Years.” With $31.4 billion in total sales, variable annuities increased 3% from the same time last year. The first quarter of 2008 was the last time that there was such an increase in variable annuity sales. A spokeswoman for the Insured Retirement Institute says that this marks a slow and cautious return to the stock market for investors. The sales are from both individual and group annuities.
Eighty-percent of investors who purchased a variable annuity also included some type of living benefit guarantee. The most popular was the guaranteed lifetime withdrawal benefit. Purchasing a death benefit annuity was also widely popular to protect investors’ heirs. Prudential Financial, Inc. remained the top variable annuity seller in the first quarter of 2010, after capturing the top spot for all of 2009. The rest of the top five companies were MetLife, TIAA-CREF, Jackson National Life and Lincoln National Corp. The consensus with variable annuities is that they are getting simpler for consumers and less risky for insurers.