Life insurance new premium rose to $15.6 billion in 2023, LIMRA reported today, setting a record for the third straight year.

Better still, the year ended on a high note, with all lines recording “positive growth” in the fourth quarter. The results are part of LIMRA’s preliminary U.S. Life Insurance Sales Survey.

“Driven by strong growth in the second half of the year, annual life insurance premium continues to expand post-pandemic. The gains were widespread with 6 in 10 companies — including half of the top 10 carriers — reporting sales growth,” said John Carroll, senior vice president, head of Life & Annuities, LIMRA and LOMA. “We are also seeing a strong uptick in the number of policies sold. In 2023, policy count increased 4%. Our consumer sentiment data suggests that more people started feeling more confident in the economy and their own financial outlook in 2024. This may have prompted consumers to address their life insurance needs.”

In the fourth quarter, total life insurance premium rose 4% to $4.2 billion, compared with prior year’s results. The number of policies sold increased 2%, largely due to strong term life sales.

LIMRA is forecasting total individual life insurance premium to increase by as much as 5% in 2024 and 2025.

Whole life insurance

Whole life new premium totaled $1.6 billion in the fourth quarter, level with prior year. Just under half of the top whole life carriers reported gains in the quarter. The number of whole life policies sold fell 4% in the fourth quarter, compared with fourth quarter 2022.

In 2023, new premium was $6.1 billion, up 1% from prior year, and policy count increased 2%. For the year, whole life product sales represent the largest market share (measured by premium) at 39%.

“Lower economic uncertainty and growing consumer confidence as inflation rates fall will likely have a positive impact on whole life sale in the next two years,” said Karen Terry, assistant vice president and head of LIMRA Insurance Product Research. “LIMRA is forecasting increasing whole life sales in 2024 and 2025, growing as much as 5% annually.”

Term life

Term life insurance experienced the largest growth in premium and policy count in the fourth quarter. Term new premium jumped 8% in the fourth quarter to $756 million. Policy count grew 6% for the quarter. This is the fourth consecutive quarter of growth in both premium and policy sales.

In 2023, term premium reached nearly $3 billion, 5% higher than 2022 results. Term policy count also grew in 2023, up 4% year over year. Term premium held 19% of the total U.S. life insurance market share in 2023.

Indexed universal life

Fourth quarter 2023 indexed universal life (IUL) premium was $1.05 billion, 3% higher than results from prior year. Policy count increased 12% year over year. A majority of IUL carriers reported gains in both premium and policy count in the fourth quarter.

In 2023, IUL new premium fell 5% year over year to $3.7 billion. The number of policies sold rose 20%, compared with prior year. For the year, IUL premium represented 24% of total U.S. premium sold.

“A majority of IUL carriers reported sales growth in the fourth quarter as we continue to see strong sales among carriers in the smaller face amount market and a return to growth in the higher face market,” said Terry. “Next year, IUL products should see more balanced results across the market. Rebounding from the decline in IUL premium in 2023, LIMRA is forecasting IUL premium to increase as much as 4% in 2024, depending on how the Federal Reserve manages interest rates.”

Variable universal life

VUL new premium increased 8% in the fourth quarter to $524 million, driven primarily by a small group of carriers. Policy count was up 5% for the quarter, compared with fourth quarter 2022.

VUL premium totaled $1.9 billion in 2023, an 8% rise from prior year results. For the year, policy sales slipped 2%, compared with 2022 results. VUL premium maintained 12% of the total U.S. life insurance market in 2023.

Fixed universal life

For the second consecutive quarter, fixed universal life (fixed UL) new premium increased. In the fourth quarter, fixed UL new premium was $267 million, up 9% year over year. The number of policies sold fell 4% from fourth quarter 2022 results.

Despite the strong growth in the fourth quarter, fixed UL new premium was $977 million, 3% below 2022 levels. Policy count also dropped in 2023, down 6%. Fixed UL premium held 6% market share in 2023.

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