News Release

$90 billion paid to beneficiaries represents a 15.4% increase over 2019.

WASHINGTON – New research from the American Council of Life Insurers (ACLI) shows that life insurance companies paid more than $90 billion to beneficiaries of life insurance policies in 2020, the highest ever in any single year. It also represents a 15.4% increase in payments over 2019, which is the largest year-to-year increase since the 1918 Influenza Epidemic. The data was included in the 2021 ACLI Life Insurers Fact Book that was released today.

"The data tells a compelling story about the resiliency of life insurers and their ability to protect Americans' financial futures at all times" said Andrew Melnyk, ACLI Vice President, Research & Chief Economist. "In a year that was taxing for everyone, life insurance benefits provided families with the means to endure financially after the loss of a loved one."

According to the 2021 Fact Book, total life insurance coverage reached $20.4 trillion in 2020, with a record $3.3 trillion in life insurance coverage purchased. In total, 43.1 million life insurance policies were purchased last year.

“Behind every data point, every payment and every policy, there are stories of real people and families who have found some peace of mind during a difficult time,” said Melnyk. “That is the mission of the life insurance industry and one we’re prepared to fulfill no matter what."

Other selected highlights of the new Fact Book:

  • Sales of group life insurance policies, which are primarily available through employers, increased 19 percent from 2019 to 2020. Individual coverage increased nearly 3 percent. 
  • Annuity payments to consumers increased in 2020 to $91 billion, a 3.9 percent jump from the previous year.
  • Industry assets in 2020 totaled $8.2 trillion, a jump from $7.6 trillion – a 7.7 percent increase.

The 2021 Fact Book contains aggregated 2020 life insurance company data that is filed with the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC). ACLI’s calculations of NAIC data is used with permission.

With 12 chapters covering industry products, income and investment data and more, the Fact Book has been a go-to source for industry professionals, policymakers and the public for generations. The new edition marks the 75th anniversary of the ACLI Fact Book.


The American Council of Life Insurers (ACLI) is the leading trade association driving public policy and advocacy on behalf of the life insurance industry. 90 million American families rely on the life insurance industry for financial protection and retirement security. ACLI’s member companies are dedicated to protecting consumers’ financial wellbeing through life insurance, annuities, retirement plans, long-term care insurance, disability income insurance, reinsurance, and dental, vision and other supplemental benefits. ACLI’s 280 member companies represent 95 percent of industry assets in the United States.

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Whit Cornman, 202-624-2442
Whit Cornman, 202-624-2442