Annuity sales in the United States reached a total of $235.8 billion last year, an increase of 3% compared to 2013.

According to the latest US annuity sales survey published by industry research group LIMRA, the increase is due to record annual sales in indexed and immediate income annuities.

LIMRA notes that indexed annuity sales reached $48.2 billion in 2014, an increase of $9.0 billion or 23% compared to the previous year. "For the first time, indexed annuities held more than 50% market share of all fixed annuity sales in 2014," reads the report. "Indexed annuity sales were $12.2 billion in the fourth quarter, an improvement of 3% compared with fourth quarter 2013 results." Immediate income annuity sales were also significantly higher last year, up 17% or $9.7 billion compared to 2013. As for deferred income annuities, sales grew by 22% in 2014, reaching $2.7 billion.

While annuity sales were up annually, total sales for the final quarter were $58.1 billion: a drop of 6% compared to the last quarter of the previous year. Immediate income annuity sales declined by 12%, while deferred income annuities and fixed-rate deferred income annuities sales were down by 4% and 14% respectively compared to same three months of 2013. LIMRA analysts attribute these declines to falling interest rates.

“In the run up to the fourth quarter of 2013 interest rates were trending upward, reaching over 3% at year-end,” comments Todd Giesing, senior business analyst at the LIMRA Secure Retirement Institute. “Quite the opposite occurred in the fourth quarter of 2014, where interest rates dropped a third of point, falling to 2.17% at the end of 2014.”