Sales of fixed annuities dropped to $21.9 billion in the third quarter of 2009 according to new research released by Evanston, Ill.-based Beacon Research. The tally represents a 21% decline compared to the same period a year earlier.

However, Beacon’s Fixed Annuity Premium Study revealed that on a year-to-date basis, total market sales were an estimated $84.5 billion, 16% above the first three quarters of 2008.    

The study also ranked the market leaders, with New York-based New York Life remaining the sales leader in third quarter and Minneapolis-based Allianz Life Insurance Co. of North America advancing from third to second place. Newport Beach, Calif.-based Pacific Life made the top 10 for the first time, and came in third.

Pacific Life’s book value product, Pacific Explorer, took top product honors for the first time.

“Sales didn’t fall in third quarter due to lower demand for fixed annuities,” Jeremy Alexander, CEO of Beacon Research, said in a statement. “The public remained in a conservative mood, and the success of Pacific Explorer shows how well a product with competitive credited and minimum guaranteed rates could do. But we don’t expect to see growth in sales until rates begin rising and it becomes more profitable for companies to issue fixed annuities sometime next year.”

The complete rankings are listed below:

Total Fixed Annuity Sales (in thousands)

1. New York Life            1,742,733

2. Allianz Life            1,424,853    

3. Pacific Life            1,421,235

4. ING USA Annuity and Life Insurance Co.            1,270,087

5. Lincoln Financial Group            1,256,178      

6. Western National Life            1,187,168      

7. Jackson National Life            996,773    

8. American Equity Investment Life Insurance Co.            979,958  

9. Aviva USA          677,207

10. John Hancock            664,146

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