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Sales of life assurance and pensions down over 40% (Irish Times)

04 November 2011
Sales of  life assurance and pensions products slumped by over 40 per cent in the first three months of the year as investors swerved falling stock markets. Figures compiled by actuarial consultants Life Strategies show that the annual premium equivalent (APE) – a benchmark used to measure sales – fell 45 per cent to €226.4 million in the first quarter of 2009 from €404 million during the same period last year.

Single-premium or once-off lump sum products were worst hit, falling to €650 million from €1.3 billion over the period. Within that, single-premium life products were down 80 per cent at €140 million in the first quarter of this year from €690 million during the same period in 2008.

Pension single-premium products were down 18 per cent at €509 million from €623 million. Personal Retirement Savings Account (PRSA) sales were also down around 40 per cent during the first quarter.

PRSA annual-premium products were down 43 per cent at €16 million in the first three months of 2009 from €28.2 million during the equivalent period last year. PRSA single-premium products were down 31 per cent at €23 million from €33 million. The PRSA annual-premium equivalent was down 42 per cent at €18.2 million from €31.6 million.

Irish Life Permanent, the biggest player in the Republic’s life and pensions market, saw profits in its life business fall 18 per cent last year to €284 million. Maturing special savings incentive accounts (SSIAs) boosted investment product sales in the early part of 2007.

The fall off in business is largely down to the collapse in share prices and property markets. Over the last two years, €93 billion has been wiped off the value of shares traded on the Irish Stock Exchange.

At its close last Friday, the total market capitalisation of the Irish Stock Exchange was €35.2 billion. Two years earlier it was €128.4 billion. Property values are reckoned to be down around 40 per cent for houses, and even more for development land and commercial premises.