Despite entering 2011 with a stronger balance sheet, reasonable earnings momentum and slightly rising direct premiums, the U.S. life and annuity insurance industry will be challenged by broad regulatory changes and an uncertain economic environment, according to Ernst & Young’s Global Insurance Center's 2011 U.S. Outlook for the life insurance industry.

Going forward, insurers will need to create new products and services and leverage distribution channels to increase top-line growth, while paring down costs and unprofitable risks to drive bottom-line earnings, according to Doug French, principal, financial services and insurance and actuarial advisory services leader at Ernst & Young LLP (U.S.).

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