Insurers increased U.S. sales of voluntary group term life insurance 15% in 2006, to $293 million, while new sales of traditional group term life fell 2%, to $1.7 billion.

Researchers at Gen Re LifeHealth, Stamford, Conn., and JHA, Portland, Maine, have reported those figures in a summary of results from a survey of 32 major players in the U.S. group life market.

Premiums generated by group term life plans already in place increased 5% in 2006, to $16 billion, and voluntary group term life in-force premiums increased 10%, to $1.7 billion, the researchers report.

Revenue from sales of new group term life plans slipped mainly because insurers sold more policies to smaller employers, researchers report.

The number of new lives insured fell 19%, but the number of cases increased 2%, the researchers conclude.