Fixed annuities are enjoying a resurgence in popularity as rates climb, according to sellers and managers of the tax-deferred investments.

Offering rates on new one-year annuities hit 5.92% in mid-June, up from 5.77% the month before. That is the fourth consecutive monthly rate increase, according to Kenneth Kehrer Associates, Princeton, N.J., which tracks annuity rates.

The one-year bonus rate that some insurers pay to attract new business also rose, reaching 6.85% in mid June from 6.74% in mid-May.

The run-up in rates has helped fuel customer interest in fixed annuities, whose return is tied to government securities and other investment-grade debt.

Union Bank of San Francisco has seen growing demand for fixed annuities in branches where investments are sold, according to Greg Knopf, a vice president.

And at Keyport Life Insurance Co., which targets banks as sales outlets, the fixed annuity business "has taken off," said Michael Mulkern, the Boston company's national product manager.

Keyport's fixed-annuity sales though banks rose 37% in May, to $150 million, from $110 million the month before, and June's sales are on track to top

May's, he said.

In the latest survey, 16 insurance companies increased the rates paid by their annuities, while three products posted lower rates. But in a possible sign that rates are stabilizing, 24 products retained the rate they offered the month before.

Kehrer Associates culls its data from insurance companies that sell their annuities through banks.

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