Bucking broad industry trends, New York Life Insurance Co. increased life sales 14% last year, surpassing $1 billion for the first time in the company's history.

According to data from LIMRA International, life insurance sales declined 16% to $9.2 billion over the same period.

Despite this trend industrywide, life insurance sales have surged in the bank channel. 

According to the third-quarter Kehrer-LIMRA Bank Life Sales Report, total individual life sales across the U.S. were flat in the third quarter and fell 11% during the first nine months of last year, compared with a year earlier. But banks were able to rake in 59% more new life insurance premiums in the third quarter, bringing bank life insurance sales growth to 32% through the first nine months of 2009.

Directly correlated to New York Life’s growth in sales is its growth in agents, a spokeswoman confirmed. NY Life added 3,618 new agents in 2009; its life agents now number 11,800.