Ruark Consulting Releases 2018 Fixed Indexed Annuity Mortality Study

Mortality rates vary by living benefit presence & utilization

Ruark Consulting, LLC today released the results of its 2018 study of fixed indexed annuity (FIA) industry mortality. The study was based on experience from 3 million policyholders spanning the period January, 2007 through September, 2017. Fourteeen variable annuity writers participated in the study, comprising $215 billion in account value as of September, 2017.

“We have almost 50% more data than our last FIA mortality study, allowing for high credibility even when splitting results by multiple factors of influence,” said Timothy Paris, Ruark’s CEO. “We’ve also added much more detailed analysis of mortality results by living benefit presence and income behavior, contract size, tax status, interactions, and changes through time. These studies provide new and important insights into FIA mortality, particularly with the growth of living benefit experience beyond the surrender charge period.”

The company’s previous FIA mortality study was released in 2016.

Paris highlighted study enhancements in response to recent regulatory proposals. “It’s not often that life and annuity actuaries need to address new mortality and projection bases for reserves and capital,” he noted, “but now is indeed the time for that. So we’ve included analyses of industry mortality results relative to the 2012 IAM Basic Table with projection scale G2, our proprietary Ruark variable annuity mortality table, and other tabular bases to make the study results as meaningful and actionable as possible for our client companies and their actuaries.”

Study highlights include:

  • After normalizing for age, sex, and duration, Ruark observes a distinct hierarchy in mortality across living benefit presence and utilization. Highest mortality is found on contracts without guaranteed lifetime income benefits (GLIB); those with a GLIB rider that have not begun taking income have mortality at slightly below average; and GLIB contracts that are in the income phase have the lowest mortality, at 88% of average. This hierarchy is consistent with a pattern of selection on the basis of longevity benefits. Ruark also observes a difference in mortality on the basis of tax status.

  • In this study for the first time, Ruark benchmarks results against the 2012 Individual Annuity Mortality (IAM) Basic table with projection scale G2. Ruark also benchmarks results against other standard mortality tables and their proprietary 2015 Ruark Variable Annuity Mortality (RVAM) table. Standard industry mortality tables systematically overstate or understate various age-sex cohorts, even when they closely approximate aggregate mortality. In contrast, the 2015 Ruark VAM table better reflects FIA mortality both in aggregate and by age-sex cells.

  • Ruark’s estimate of aggregate FIA mortality has remained stable since 2016. In contrast, VA mortality has fallen approximately 3% since 2015, driven by mortality improvement and changes in the business mix. In the case of FIA, these downward trends are offset by the effects of improved company-by-company data processing in this study, particularly with regard to spousal continuation following the death of the original policyholder.

  • FIA mortality exhibits a select-and-ultimate pattern even in the absence of individual underwriting. Mortality in the first year is 75% of average in the first contract year, jumps 20 percentage points in the second contract year, and then grows by approximately 1.6 percentage points each year thereafter. This phenomenon is consistent with the intuition that FIA buyers might be expected to be somewhat healthier in order to enter into a financial transaction that offers limited death benefits, and various forms of longevity benefits.

  • There is evidence of mortality improvement among FIA policyholders, and the extent of improvement appears to vary depending on whether or not the contract includes a GLIB rider. Contracts with a GLIB rider exhibit improvement consistent with projection scale G2; those without a rider exhibit greater annual improvement.


Detailed study results, including company-level analytics and customized behavioral assumption models calibrated to the study data, are available for purchase by participating companies.

For further information on results, to purchase the study, or if you have any other inquiries, click here or email Timothy Paris (