Around £8bn of buy-ins and buyouts were completed in the first half of this year, writing the highest volume of deals of any first half to date.
Separate analyses by Lane Clark & Peacock (LCP) and Willis Towers Watson found H1 broke the £6.9bn record set in H1 2014, with the full-year expected to also surpass previous records.
Longevity risk transfers also broke records in the first half. Thanks to the £2bn longevity swap between National Grid and Zurich and the £12bn back-book transfer from Prudential to Rothesay Life, the previous £11.9bn record, also set in H1 2014, was beaten.
Overall, £22bn of de-risking deals have been completed by insurers.
LCP partner Charlie Finch said 2018 had "gotten off to a flying start" and was meeting its predictions.
"Looking forward, I have little doubt that 2018 will set a new record of over £15bn of buy-ins and buyouts for the first time," he said. "The challenge for insurers is scaling-up to process the higher number of transactions and to source the greater volume of assets necessary to continue to offer pricing at current attractive levels.
"Pension plans should step back and consider their strategy for approaching the market. We already have a queue of transactions targeting 2019; I am confident that there will continue to be attractive opportunities but, in a busier market, they may be harder to access."
Pension Insurance Corporation has written the highest volume of deals so far this year £2.1bn of buy-ins, £1.1bn of buyouts and £56m of an unknown mixture of deals recorded. This represented 42% of all deals transacted in the first half.
With 20% of all deals this year, Aviva recorded the second highest volume. It has completed £925m of buy-ins and £360m of buyouts, alongside £254m of deals not broken down.
However, the market has so far been quiet for Canada Life, which has not disclosed any deals yet, and Rothesay Life (excluding the back-book transfer) which has written just a £170m buyout with Toshiba.
The largest deal with an individual pension scheme was a £1.4bn pensioner buy-in between Marks & Spencer Pension Scheme and Aviva and Phoenix Life. However, when broken down between individual insurers, PIC secured the largest in a £1.3bn pensioner buy-in with Siemens.
Willis Towers Watson transaction senior director Shelly Beard shared Finch's confidence, noting the consultant is currently advising on a further 15 bulk annuity processes and six longevity swaps.
Yet she warned pricing might worsen over the remainder of the year as insurers meet their sales targets.
"How long this level of activity will be sustained is more questionable," she added, however. "The kind of ‘end-of-year sale' seen in previous years is unlikely to materialise this year, because insurers will already have met their annual new business targets.
"Schemes considering approaching the market now should be aware that they may need to delay transacting until early 2019 to ensure optimal pricing."
In a further analysis, Hymans Robertson expected the overall risk transfer market to top £35bn by the end of the year. Its consulting actuary Kieran Mistry said the demand for bulk annuities from schemes is only set to increase further, with a bumper start to 2019 anticipated.
"This should not be seen as a temporary blip," he said. "In fact, it seems highly likely that demand will continue to increase over the medium to long term. We are on the cusp of a shift in the supply/demand dynamics of the market.
"Trustees and sponsors will have to be smarter and more patient to get the best outcome for their schemes, and understanding insurance and reinsurance company dynamics and priorities is more important than ever."
Bulk annuity pricing potentially faces a further hike as new capital buffer rules for insurers that hold equity release mortgages as assets are proposed by the Prudential Regulation Authority.
Aviva Life & Pensions has concluded an £875m buy-in with its own staff pension scheme, following on from a similar transaction last year.
Just Group has completed a £74m pensioner buy-in with the UK pension scheme of a US-listed engineering business.
The Smiths Industries Pension Scheme has secured a £146m buy-in with Canada Life in its fourth bulk annuity and its sponsor’s tenth overall.
The Prudential Staff Pension Scheme has entered into a £3.7bn longevity swap with Pacific Life Re, insuring the longevity risk of over 20,000 pensioners.
The Baker Hughes (UK) Pension Plan has secured approximately £100m of liabilities through a buy-in with Just Group.