This week, LIMRA reported variable annuity sales increased 19% to $80.7 billion in the six months ended June 30 compared with the same period a year earlier. Today, the Insured Retirement Institute (IRI) echoed the increase, reporting first-quarter sales at $40 billion, up 2% from $39.2 billion in the previous quarter. IRI says year-to-year quarterly sales of variable annuities posted a 15% increase from second quarter 2010 sales of $34.6 billion. Second quarter 2010 net sales were $3.2 billion. There were $26.6 billion in qualified sales and $13.4 billion in non-qualified in the second quarter.

IRI also reported more promising numbers for the annuity industry as a whole: Total annuity sales for the second quarter continued to increase at a double-digit rate. Second-quarter industry wide sales were $60.4 billion, up 10% from $55 billion in the second quarter of 2010. Second-quarter sales also garnered quarter-to-quarter growth, increasing at a rate of 4% from $58.1 billion in the first quarter of this year.

“The second-quarter data definitively show that this year will indeed be a record-setting one for the industry,” said IRI president and CEO Cathy Weatherford. “This expansive growth not only demonstrates the growing interest in insured retirement strategies, but also reflects the long-term confidence that investors are increasingly placing in these products.”

Fixed annuity sales for the second quarter were $20.4 billion, up from $18.9 billion in the previous quarter, representing a 7.9% increase. Year-to-year quarterly sales of fixed annuities remained flat, with the second quarter of 2010 also coming in at $20.4 billion. Qualified sales were 32% of the second quarter 2011 total.

— Carrie Burns writes for Insurance Networking News, a Source Media publication.

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