The protection market looks set to break the £700m annual premium equivalent (APE) barrier this year for the first time since Gen Re started producing its monthly Protection Pulse in 2013.
Total APE in the first half of the year reached £360m, a year-on-year increase of 5.8%.
Mortality, which is the largest product segment, saw premiums increase by 8.5% in the first half to £202.8m across 684,000 policies.
Term assurance rose 6.1% to £155.5m by premium and 7.4% by policy count.
Guaranteed whole of life (GWOL) premiums reached £30.2m – an increase of 24% in APE terms and 25% by policy count.
Whole of life premiums rose by 5% to £17.1m, but the number of policies fell by 20%. Gen Re said the growth in premiums could be partly driven by companies recognising the true cost of the long-term guarantees attaching to these products.
Accelerated critical illness (CI) APE rose by 2.8% to £124.9m, standalone CI increased 2.3% to £9.7m and income protection (IP) edged up 1% to £22.9m.
Standalone CI and IP have both shown growth in policy numbers of around 8% over the 2017 half-year numbers.
Gen Re suggested that in the case of IP, this could be due to the continuing trend towards shorter, finite claims payment terms and therefore lower average premiums than traditional to retirement products.
Tom Baigrie, chief executive of protection intermediary LifeSearch, said the figures confirm the turnaround and trend to growth in the UK protection market.
“We should all be proud that we are protecting more people and families than ever before, though we should also be concerned that the wide variance in growth rates by product demonstrate that this success would seem to be supply side marketing led and perhaps not delivering the protections consumers need most,” he added.
The mix by distribution channel was steady in the first half, with the independent advice channel continuing to write almost 60% of the business.
However, the growth in guaranteed whole of life products means the non-advised channel has grown slightly in market share.
Jules Constantinou, regional manager UK and Ireland life/health at Gen Re, said innovations such as Royal London’s Diabetes Life Cover and new critical illness offerings have the capability to stimulate market growth.
“We now have some new kids on the block, in the shape of Guardian, Dead Happy, Yulife and Sherpa, all of which have the potential to grow the market with differing takes on protection insurance. It will be interesting to see how their impact is felt over the next 18 months,” she added.