Strong increases in sales of annuities in the earlier parts of 2011 slowed over the course of the year, but still yielded an 8 percent growth over the previous year, according to data released Wednesday by LIMRA.
Industry giant MetLife topped the rankings in domestic business during the fourth quarter of 2011. MetLife and the top 20 firms in the nation sold almost $190.5 billion in annuities, 79 percent of an industry total that reached $240.3 billion over the course of the year.
MetLife moved more than $30.9 billion during that period, including an industry leading $28.4 billion in variable annuities. MetLife's earnings roundly eclipsed those of second-place Prudential Annuities, whose total sales were $21.3 billion and variable sales were $21.2 billion.
Jackson National Life followed closely behind with $19.8 billion in total sales, $17.5 billion in variable; AIG Companies' sales totaled $16.6 billion. TIAA-CREF's $13.4 billion in variable annuities sales was the fifth largest overall total in the period.
"While we saw significant growth in the first half of 2011, third- and fourth-quarter annuity sales fell, tempering the double-digit growth seen at the mid-year mark," said Joseph Monminy, LIMRA's assistant vice president.
LIMRA notes that the top five annuity writers made up 42 percent of total sales by themselves, and the top five VA writers captured 56 percent of the market in 2011
In the fixed annuities space, AIG topped the list with $8.5 billion in sales, followed by Allianz Life of North America ($6.5 billion), New York Life ($5.8 billion) and American Equity Investment Life ($5.1 billion).
The top 20 firms in the fixed annuity world sold approximately $58.7 billion in product, accounting for 72 percent of industry wide sales.