John Hancock Life Insurance Company led the industry in total individual life insurance sales in 2006, the company announced.

Citing a recent survey of 78 large life insurers by LIMRA International, John Hancock says its sales reached $735 million in total annualized premium in 2006, moving it into the top spot in 2006 after finishing at number 3 in 2005 and number 5 in 2004. Sales for 2006 increased almost 20% over 2005, compared to an average industry sales increase of 6.6%, Hancock points out.

Strong universal life and variable life sales helped put the company into the lead, Hancock says.

Its universal life sales rose to $504 million, up 17% last year. Variable life sales, including variable universal life, rose to $181 million, up 32.7%, according to LIMRA data.

Hancock is a subsidiary of Manulife Financial Corp., Toronto.