Individual life insurance sales increased 4% in 2010, according to LIMRA’s U.S. Individual Life Insurance Sales Survey, which was released on Monday.

“Throughout the year, Whole Life and Universal Life were strong performers, spurring an increase of overall individual life insurance sales,” said Ashley Durham, senior analyst, LIMRA Product Research, in a statement. “While we have not gotten back to the peak level reached in 2007, we are encouraged by the positive results this year.”

Whole Life’s annualized premium jumped 14% in the fourth quarter and 15% in 2010.  Policy sales soared 6% in the quarter and 2% for the year.  This is the sixth consecutive quarter of growth for WL sales.

The Universal Life annualized premium rose 13% in the fourth quarter of 2010.  Sales of UL policies soared 20% in the fourth quarter and 21% in 2010 primarily because of the introduction of Term UL products. Products featuring long-term secondary guarantees fell 5% compared with 2009, while annualized premium sales for products that do not feature these guarantees shot up 27%. 

Meanwhile, indexed UL sales jumped 47% in 2010, almost 20% of 2010 UL annualized premium sales.

“Many factors contributed to indexed UL growth, including increased marketing, training and product introductions,” said Durham.   “Indexed UL sales are also benefiting from the current economic environment.  Like other indexed products, indexed UL products’ cash value can grow with market but are also protected against severe market declines.” 

At the same time, term life insurance premiums tumbled 16% for the quarter and 12% for the year, as did term policy sales, the largest annual decline for term life insurance premiums on record.  

Variable sales dropped 25% in the fourth quarter and 7% in 2010.