Consumers backed away from purchasing individual life insurance in the third quarter as pandemic fears waned, according to Limra, the life insurance industry trade association.

According to Limra’s 2022 third quarter summary on U.S. retail individual life insurance sales, new annualized premium (or the amount of premium income that the life insurer would receive in a year) fell 5% from the previous year’s results. Limra added, however, that new premium for the first nine months of 2022 remained 6% above results during the same period in 2021.

“Since January 2022, consumers’ concerns about the pandemic, which played a role in driving the record premium and policy sales growth in 2021, have diminished as worries about the economy and inflation increased over several months,” said Limra’s John Carroll, in a statement. “As a result, the surge in smaller whole life and term policy sales experienced in 2021 ended in 2022.”

Carroll is the senior vice president and head of insurance and annuities for the U.S. and Canada at Limra and its sister trade organization, LOMA.

Policy sales overall fell 12% in the third quarter and 10% year to date. But there was one bright spot. Indexed universal life (IUL) recorded positive growth, as new annualized premium increased 2%. Limra noted that IUL new premium rose 22% in the first nine months of 2022, though fewer than half of carriers reported gains. IUL premium held 28% of market share of the total U.S. life insurance premium in the first three quarters.

Variable universal life (VUL), which held 13% of premium market share in the first nine months, slowed over the past 19 quarters because of declines in the equity market, Limra noted. Variable universal life new premium dropped 12% in the third quarter, following 104% growth in the third quarter 2021. Its year-to-date premium was up 18%. Limra noted that sales will continue to be affected by market volatility through the rest of the year.

Fixed universal life new annualized premium dipped 25% in the third quarter and fell 12% in the first nine months of the year. Its market share remained 7% of the total U.S. life insurance market in the first three quarters.

Whole life, which represented 33% of the total U.S. life insurance market year to date, saw new annualized premium fall 2% in the third quarter. Its new premium for the year was 1% higher than the previous year.

Product sales for term life have fallen for the fourth consecutive quarter. New premium dropped 6% from the prior year and fell 5% year to date. Limra noted that half of term life carriers reported declines in term premium for the quarter, compared with the prior year. Term life’s market share represented 19% of the total U.S. market in the first nine months of 2022.