Legal & General and Liverpool Victoria yesterday joined Prudential in reporting healthy investment returns from with-profit funds last year.
Those of L&G's 900,000 with-profit policyholders whose policies mature this year will nearly all get bigger terminal bonuses to boost their pay-outs. But interim bonuses added to the valued of a policy each year are broadly similar to last year's because L&G says its investment expectations are no more than "stable".
L&G's fund achieved an investment return of 19 per cent, or 16 per cent after tax, while that at Liverpool Victoria came in at 20.1 per cent.
The friendly society is being more cautious with its bonuses, leaving most unchanged, but halving annual bonuses on conventional 20-year pension policies.
It claimed its pay-outs are still far more ahead of those from the big life companies - at least £17,000 more for someone who took out a £50-a-month endowment 25 years ago. He stands to receive £68,971 when it matures now - against £46,587 at L&G.
Liverpool Victoria has also guaranteed its 4,500 holders of mortgage endowments to make good any difference between their original mortgage and the value of their policies at maturity.
L&G said 2005 was the third year running that its fund had produced double digit gains.
This has enable it to reduce or abolish the penalties it imposes on investors who cash in their policies early. No investment bonds are now subject to charges of more than ten per cent to account for stock market losses, it said.
"I am delighted that we have been able to achieve such an excellent investment return for our with-profits policyholders," said Ian Gibson, L&G's UK actuary.
"As a result of this strong investment performance we have been able to increase the terminal bonuses awarded to the vast majority of our maturing policies.
"This year's interim bonus rate declarations are very similar to those of last year, reflecting stable investment expectations."
L&G said annual bonuses would vary from policy to policy, but people with a conventional endowments would receive 0.75 per cent of the sum assured and 1.25 per cent on bonuses from earlier years.
It is also paying a terminal bonus of 21.6 per cent on a 25-year low-cost mortgage endowment policy maturing next month.
A saver who has paid £200 a month into a pension for 20 years will receive £115,334 if their policy matures in March, compared with £21,316 for a similar policy maturing a year earlier. That amounts to an annual return of five per cent on top of inflation this year and 5.3 per cent in the 20 years to 2005.
L&G said strong investment returns should lower the number of home-buyers people with endowment mortgages that would not pay off their home loan when they mature.