Separate accounts are funds held by life insurance companies that are maintained separately from the insurer’s general assets. They were originally established in response to federal securities laws concerning investment-linked variable annuities, according to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners. Variable annuities operate like mutual funds because their earnings vary as they invest in many different vehicles. Separate accounts have evolved rapidly in the past 20 years and now support an array of hybrid investment products.
Separate accounts contribute to the revenue of life/annuity insurers. (See Life/Annuity Insurance Income Statement, 2014-2018.) In 2018, separate accounts contributed $37.3 billion to the total amount of life/annuity insurance revenue of $905 billion.