Covid Spurs Biggest Rise in Life-Insurance Payouts in a Century

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The Covid-19 pandemic last year drove the biggest increase in death benefits paid by U.S. life insurers since the 1918 influenza epidemic, an industry trade group said.

Death-benefit payments rose 15.4% in 2020 to $90.43 billion, mostly due to the pandemic, according to the American Council of Life Insurers. In 1918, payments surged 41%.

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The hit to the insurance industry was less than expected early in the pandemic because many of the victims were older people who typically have smaller policies. The industry paid out $78.36 billion in 2019, and payouts have typically increased modestly each year.

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Covid-19 also spurred the fastest rise in sales of insurance policies in 25 years, an industry research group said. Combined with good returns on some of insurers’ investments, industry assets increased 7.7% to $8.2 trillion in 2020, the ACLI’s figures show.


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