Total annuity sales increased 14 percent to $232.1 billion in 2018 from a year earlier, according to the LIMRA Secure Retirement Institute (SRI).

Total fixed annuity sales fueled overall annuity growth and reached an all-time high at $132 billion.

Annuity sales for the fourth quarter were $62.1 billion, a 22 percent increase compared with the same quarter of 2017, making it the highest quarterly total annuity sales since first quarter 2009, LIMRA said. It is also the first time annuity sales have exceeded $60 billion since the fourth quarter of 2015.

Todd Giesing, LIMRA's director of annuity research, said that individual annuity sales for 2018 finished the year strong, thanks in large part to sales of fixed-annuity products.

“All fixed-annuity products experienced growth in 2018, and fixed-annuity sales accounted for nearly 60 percent of overall individual annuity sales, a significant change from just five years ago,” he said.

Total fixed-annuity sales increased in the fourth quarter, up 47 percent to $37.4 billion. For the year, fixed-annuity sales rose 25 percent to $132 billion, an all-time high.

Fourth quarter indexed annuity sales set an all-time quarterly record at $19.5 billion, a 40 percent increase, compared with the fourth quarter 2018 results. Fixed-indexed annuity sales for 2018 rose 27 percent over sales in 2017, to a record-setting $69.6 billion, exceeding the previous annual fixed-indexed annuity sales record by $10 billion.

Giesing said that total fixed-annuities sales for the fourth quarter were the highest ever, which he attributed to higher interest rates and increased equity market volatility. Giesing said that 2018 was the fourth consecutive year in which  annual fixed-annuity sales surpassed $100 billion, and the first time it had occurred since LIMRA SRI began tracking sales.

According to LIMRA, while U.S. variable annuity (VA) sales in the fourth quarter were down 3 percent over last year’s results, to $24.7 billion, total VA sales for 2018 rose 2 percent over 2017, at $100.1 billion. Despite that increase, LIMRA reports that fixed-annuity sales have outperformed VA sales in 10 of the last 12 quarters.