Life insurers got burned in the big commercial real estate bust of the 1990s. But as the sector emerges from a smaller Great Recession-era bust, insurers are showing no indication of "once bitten, twice shy."

Insurers are on track to make 2014 their second record CRE lending year in a row, according to David Stevens, president of the Mortgage Bankers Association. Last year, "originations for life insurance companies in the first three quarters of 2013 ran 20% ahead of the first three quarters in 2012, with originations in the second and third quarters the highest on record," he told a recent commercial and multifamily conference the MBA held in Orlando.

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