Total new business issued by the top 50 life insurers was off 1% in 2005, coming in at $2.14 billion in 2005 vs. $2.17 billion the year before.

Within the top 50 ranking, however, new business issued by companies varied significantly. United Healthcare Insurance Company posted the largest percent increase at 178%, while the biggest drop was recorded by Jefferson-Pilot Financial Insurance Company, with a 56% decline. The figures were gathered from data from the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) annual statement database via Highline Data L.L.C.

Results for total new term insurance business were flat for the top 50 with a 2005 total of $1.042 billion compared with $1.04 billion in 2004, according to the data.

New whole life business for the top 50 dropped by 1% to $268.8 million in 2005 from $272.3 million in 2004, the data revealed.

Regarding new group business, the top 50 experienced a 4% decline to $986.1 million in 2005 from $1.03 billion in 2004.

Total new business for Prudential Insurance Company of America, Newark, N.J., grew 67% to $128.5 million in 2005 from $76.9 million in 2004. The growth, says Laurita Warner, a Prudential spokesperson, is due to an increase in sales of group life insurance.

A big contributor to total new business for Hartford Life Insurance Company, Hartford, Conn., was new group business issued, according to the NAIC/Highline data.

Hartford Life experienced a 146% increase in new group business, growing to $8.7 million in 2005 compared with $3.5 million in 2004.

Four factors contributed to this growth, according to Jay Menario, chief marketing officer, group benefits division with Hartford Life.

At year-end 2003, Hartford Life acquired the group life and accident and health business of CNA, he says. A second factor he cites is the emphasis that Hartford Life places on building producer relationships, an effort he says is producing an “uplift” in sales.

A third point, according to Menario, is the focus on the group voluntary market, which he says will continue to grow both as those who have never been covered sign up for voluntary benefits and as companies shift costs to employees.

Finally, Menario says, maintaining the producer relationship with continuing education courses, newsletters and other features is as important as initially building the relationship.

The 2005 Fact Book produced by the American Council of Life Insurers, Washington, indicated that the size of newly purchased life policies grew in 2004. For instance, new individual life policies increased 14% to $147,000. Of new individual policies purchased in 2004, 41% or five million of them were term insurance, according to the ACLI Fact Book. Group purchases rose 5% in 2004 to $1.1 trillion.