2020 Annuity Downfall


2020 was a tough year for the annuity industry.

Total annuity sales of $219 billion represented a 9% decline from 2020, according to the Secure Retirement Institute’s U.S. Individual Annuity Sales Survey. 

There is a variety of reasons for this decline, with the COVID-19 pandemic being the main driver of the decrease.

Most annuities are sold face-to-face, with the agent often coming by the potential buyer’s residence and giving a detailed presentation on the multitude of options available to the buyer.

Senior couple in self isolation looking through the window at home clapping. They are showing their support for all the workers and helpers who are helping during the COVID-19 outbreak.

Once the COVID-19 pandemic hit in March 2020, face-to-face selling suddenly became a dangerous proposition for both the potential investors, as well as the agents. Many people looking for an annuity are often over 55 years old, and ironically, most agents are often well over 40 as well. This was not an ideal mix during a pandemic which targeted elderly people.

While COVID-19 was largely responsible for the decline, the fact is annuity sales have dipped over the last five years overall, a trend which suggests more factors were at play beyond the pandemic.

Over a five-year period ending in 2020, sales of annuity products declined from $116 billion to about $60 billion in 2020. That is a steep decline for any product in any industry.

Over a five-year period ending in 2020, sales of annuity products declined from $116 billion to about $60 billion in 2020. That is a steep decline for any product in any industry.

Experts point to lower interest rates on these products limiting the guarantees historically offered by income annuities.

Variable annuities, generally the riskier option over indexed or fixed products, were hit the hardest during the last five years. Variable annuities fell 11% between the third quarter of 2019 and the final quarter of 2020.

Investing inflation

The news was not all bad though. Sales of registered indexed annuities increased 29% for the same period, while fixed annuities fell by 3%. Fixed rate deferred annuities increased by a whopping 60%.

Those numbers suggest investors are leery over riskier products such as variable annuities, which usually do not offer a guaranteed rate of return. uu

Signs are pointing to the industry rebounding in 2021 and beyond. (updated August 2021) Annuity Sales are Up. What’s Happening?

First and foremost, the pandemic has begun to subside. Additionally, the vaccine rollout has been successful in the U.S., with over 40% of the population fully vaccinated.

In the fourth quarter of 2020, annuity sales began to rebound to pre-pandemic levels, Total annuity sales were $58.6 billion, up 2% from 2019. Advisors are Increasingly Recommending Annuities, and for Good Reason

Factoring in all of these elements, it is crucial for prospective buyers to shop around for the best rate. AdvisorWorld will provide you with an exclusive report revealing the top ten annuities for 2021, complete with free personalized rate comparisons.

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Claude Saravia is a retirement, investment, estate planning and currency exchange writer who has been writing about personal finance for over a decade. He has worked directly with some of the largest currency exchange firms and insurance brokerages in North America, prior to switching his focus towards becoming a financial writer. Claude is a graduate of Humber College in Toronto, Canada where he studied journalism and finance. Originally from New York City, he now lives in Arizona with his wife and three dogs.


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