New York Life Insurance Company said its individual life insurance sales rose 24% in the first quarter, helping the firm garner 12.1% of the overall market share among life insurance providers.

Company officials said the surge in market share represents a 1.7% improvement from the fourth quarter when it held 10.4% of all life insurance policies sold by more than 1,000 U.S.-based life insurers.

"As more Americans recognize the need and benefit of the financial protection that life insurance offers, they are turning to New York Life," Mark Pfaff, executive vice president in charge of U.S. life and agency operations, said in a statement.

"The results of this quarterly sales survey underscore our longtime belief that the combination of the most knowledgeable agent force, unsurpassed financial ratings and a 166-year history of keeping our promises to policyholders is a winning recipe for success in this business," he added.

New York Life said it recorded a 29% increase in all insurance sales through its more than 11,900 licensed agents in the quarter.

Pfaff said his company's research found that no life insurance company has ever held a double-digit percentage of the total life insurance market "since LIMRA has kept records."