Sales through direct channels represented more than 20% of the policies, about five percent of premium sold and 13% of the total face value in 2008, according to a new joint project conducted by LIMRA and LIDMA, the Life Insurance Direct Marketing Association.

“For the first time, we have been able to quantify the amount of individual life insurance sold through direct channels, like the Internet, direct mail and telephone,” said Ron Neyer, senior analyst, LIMRA Distribution Research. “This includes both sales generated directly through carriers, as well as by third-party quoting aggregators. Direct marketing accounts for a much larger portion of life insurance sales than previously reported. We believe this will be valuable information for the industry to track the growth of this distribution channel in the coming years.”

LIMRA and LIDMA researchers estimate that more than 2 million individual life insurance policies sold in 2008 were purchased through direct channels. In addition, direct response sales totaled $675 million in new premium in 2008 and total face value reached $233 billion.

The number of consumers who bought insurance online has doubled since 2006.

Price, convenience and a good Web site were the top factors that influenced these consumers. With advances in technology, researchers anticipate that more consumers—especially younger generations—will use direct channels to buy life insurance in the next five to 10 years, notes the report.