If annual statement data is a mirror of how life insurers are doing, then the reflection the industry saw in 2006 was a lot more handsome than the year before.

According to that data, the reflection very much affirms trends that reflect consumer preferences: A growing interest in annuities and purchase of life insurance in the group market.

The data is culled from the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, via Highline Data, LLC, an affiliate of National Underwriter.

Every category for life insurers experienced growth, and in several instances–premium income, individual annuity premiums, group life premiums and group life in-force–the growth was in the double digits for the top 200 companies in 2006 compared with 2005. The growth in these categories as well as the individual health category was really fueled by the large companies heading up these respective data measures.

Net admitted assets experienced a 9% growth rate for the top 200 companies, increasing to $4.6 trillion in 2006, compared with $4.2 trillion in 2005.

The share of that total in 2006 contributed by the top 10 companies was 26% up slightly from 2005′s 25%. That share increased somewhat when the top 25 companies were examined–they represented 37% of total admitted assets of the top 200 in both 2006 and in 2005.

Premium income increased 13% for the top 200 companies, growing to $557.6 billion in 2006 from $495.3 in 2005.

The top 10 companies accounted for 24% of total premium income of the top 200 companies in both 2006 and 2005. The top 25 had 37% of the total in 2006 and 36% in 2005.

Individual annuity premiums outpaced general premium growth, experiencing a 15% increase to $182.8 billion in 2006, compared with $158.8 billion in 2005 for the top 200 companies.

The top 10 companies in this category represented 43% of total individual annuity premium of the top 200 in 2006 as they did in 2005. The top 25 accounted for 68% of the total individual annuity premiums in 2006 as they did in 2005.

Group life premiums bounded 20% ahead of the 2005 totals for the top 200, totaling $34.1 billion in 2006, compared with $28.6 billion in 2005.

The top 10 companies in this category represented 66% of all group life premiums, slightly better than the 64% total recorded in 2005. The top 25 companies in this category pulled in 85% compared with 83% in 2005.

Group life insurance in-force also reflected the dominance of larger companies in the group life market. For the top 200 companies, the top 10 represented 70% of the category’s in-force total in 2006 and 69% in 2005. The top 25 companies garnered 86% and 85% in 2006 and 2005, respectively.

The top 200 in this category increased by 9% to $9.9 trillion in 2006 compared with $9.1 trillion in 2005.

Compared with group life premium’s 20% growth, individual life premiums for the top 200 in that category grew a more modest 6% in 2006 over 2005. However, that growth was on a larger base. In 2006, individual life premiums reached $108.5 billion compared with $102.2 billion in 2005.

The top 10 companies’ share of the total for the top 200 was more in line with the individual annuity premium category. In 2006, the top 10 contributed 48% of total individual life premiums up slightly from 46% in 2005. And, the top 25 companies represented 66% of total individual life premiums in 2006 compared with 64% in 2005.

Individual life insurance in-force increased 6% to $23.6 trillion in 2006 compared with $22.1 trillion in 2005. Again, the base was smaller than group life insurance in-force, possibly explaining the more modest increase than the group in-force category.

The top 10 accounted for 35% of the total for the 200 in the category both in 2006 and in 2005. The top 25 companies represented 59% of the total group life premiums in 2006 and in 2005.

Total-in-force business reached $33.2 trillion in 2006, a 7% increase over 2005′s $31 trillion. The top 10 contributed 37% of this total in 2006 and 36% in 2005, while the top 25 represented 59% of the group’s total in 2006 as it did in 2005.

Net investment income increased by 5%, growing to $158.9 billion in 2006 for the top 200 compared with $151.1 billion in 2005.

The top 10 companies in the category contributed 36% of that total in both 2006 and in 2005 while the top 25 in the category contributed 58% to the total amount in both years.

The top 200 fared approximately the same for the Net gain after dividends category, growing 4% to $37.2 billion in 2006 from 2005′s $35.9 billion.

The top 10 companies represented 32% of the total net gain after dividends for the top 200 in 2006, up slightly from 2005′s 30%. The top 25 accounted for 53% of the total in 2006 and 49% of the total in 2005.

Results for Health Insurers showed sizeable increases in premium earned but a slightly larger increase in claims paid. Premiums earned for the top 200 in the All Health category totaled $137.7 billion in 2006, a 22% increase over $113 billion in 2005. Claims incurred in 2006 totaled $100 billion, a 25% increase over the $80.2 billion reported in 2005.

Group Health premiums increased 9% to $84.6 billion in 2006, up from $77.4 billion in 2005. Claims incurred totaled $64.7 billion in 2006, an 8% increase over 2005′s $59.7 billion.

Individual Health leaders posted premiums earned totaling $47.1 billion in 2006, a 60% change over $29.5 billion in 2005. Claims incurred for individual health leaders were $27.8 billion in 2006, a 67% change over 2005′s $16.6 billion.

The very large increase was due to the big getting big getting bigger. In the top companies, Humana Ins. Co., United Healthcare Ins. Co., Pacificare Life & Health Ins. Co., and, Unicare Life & Health Ins. Co. were major contributors to the growth in premium earned. In the top 25, Aetna Life Ins. Co. and First Health Life & Health Ins. Co. experienced major growth in premium earned.