Sales of annuities in the first quarter of 2012 hit $54.8 billion, down 8% from the year-ago quarter, according to LIMRA, a research, consulting and professional development organization.

Variable annuities, which for the last two years have driven sales, declined 7% from the year-ago period to $36.8 billion. Demand for guaranteed living benefit riders, however, remained strong, with election rates of 90%, LIMRA said.

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