Annuities had a strong year in 2019. 

According to the Secure Retirement Institute, total annuity sales were $241.7 billion last year, an increase of 3% over 2018 and the highest annual annuity sales since 2008. The top three manufacturers – Jackson, with $19.6 billion in sales; AIG Companies, with $19.4 billion and Lincoln Financial Group, with $14.8 billion – represented 22% of the market share in 2019.

Jackson reclaimed the top spot from AIG, which rose to the top in 2018 for the first time since 2007, SRI said.

In 2019, Jackson diversified its annuity sales to focus on growing its fixed-annuity market share, which propelled its overall growth in 2019, said Todd Giesing, SRI's senior annuity research director. He noted that Jackson’s fixed-indexed annuity sales jumped a whopping 1,293% in 2019, while its fixed-rate deferred annuity sales climbed 169%.

Total variable annuity (VA) sales were $101.9 billion in 2019, marking a 2% rise above 2018 results and the second consecutive year of annual growth for VAs.

Jackson has been the leader in the VA market for seven straight years, SRI said. The top three VA sellers – Jackson, Equitable Financial and TIAA – represented 36% of the total VA market in 2019.

SRI said the VA market benefited from registered index-linked annuities (RILAs), a new product. In 2019, RILA sales were $17.4 billion, up 55%. RILA sales held 17% of the total VA market. Equitable Financial was the top seller of RILAs in 2019, with a marketshare of 29%.

There were a number of new entrants to the rapidly growing RILA market in 2019, which helped expand both distribution and advisor awareness of the products. “Consumers are adding RILAs to their investment portfolios as they near retirement to layer on additional downside protection,” Giesing said in a prepared statement.

Fixed-annuity sales had a record-breaking 2019 with a total of $139.8 billion, up 5% from the prior year. AIG led the pack with $13.2 billion in sales, marking the second consecutive year AIG has led this market. Joining AIG in the top three annuity manufacturers were New York Life and Allianz Life of North America. The trio represents 23% of the U.S. fixed annuity market.

Fixed-indexed annuities broke annual sales records in 2019 with sales of $73.5 billion, a 6% jump from 2018 results. Allianz Life Insurance Company was the top seller in this product category for the 11th consecutive year. 

In 2019, the top three fixed-indexed annuities sellers – Allianz Life of North America, Athene Annuity & Life and AIG – represented 28% of the market.

Giesing said there were several new entrants in the U.S. fixed-indexed annuities market in 2019, including several leading insurers who traditionally were focused on the VA market. “This has led to greater competition and choice for consumers, which we believe is a positive trend for the market,” he said.

SRI’s U.S. annuity sales survey represents 94% of the U.S. annuity market.