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Life insurance premiums on the rise

Life Insurance and Annuities
by Lisa Jiang
Life settlements could help consumers going forward
Life settlements could help consumers going forward

There have been a number of ways in which the life insurance industry has improved over the past year or two, as more consumers start to look into obtaining this type of coverage once again. Another positive step came in the third quarter of the year, as the average premium improved somewhat significantly.

From July to September, individual life insurance premiums crept up 4 percent overall, offsetting some other, more negative, moves, according to the latest data from LIMRA's Retail Individual Life Insurance Survey. Overall, that brought individual life premiums to being down just 1 percent for the year to date, while policy counts dropped 1 percent in the third quarter to bring the number for the first nine months down to 3 percent less.

A closer look
Meanwhile, it's important to note just what kinds of coverage saw improvements overall, the report said. The biggest gainer, as usual, was variable universal life, for which premiums crept up 22 percent for the quarter and 26 percent over the first nine months of the year. Likewise, the number of policies nationwide rose 12 percent and 13 percent by those same measures, respectively. Whole life coverage was the only other type of policy that saw notable improvements in some way, with annualized premiums rising 6 percent quarterly and 2 percent year-to-date, even as the number of policies dropped 2 percent and 3 percent in those periods.

At the same time, though, the news was a little more grim for other types of plans, the report said. For instance, term life insurance saw no improvement by either measure on a quarterly basis, and year-to-date it was likewise down 2 percent in both categories. Further, universal life was more of a mixed bag, with premiums rising 2 percent and policies dropping 1 percent in the third quarter, but losing significant ground over the first nine months of 2014, with premiums dipping 8 percent and policy numbers falling 6 percent.

This may highlight the importance of life insurance companies needing to do more to create new options for consumers that might be a little more flexible and attractive to people who might have limited experience with such coverage. The more that can be done to get people to look into and take on any type of life coverage is obviously going to be a good thing, but the general public's lack of familiarity may still need a lot of smoothing over.

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