New individual long term care insurance sales crept up in the first half of the year while the number of lives covered fell slightly.

Data from 23 LTC insurance carriers showed an end to 4 years of declining individual LTC sales, according to LIMRA International, Windsor, Conn.

Total individual LTC premium revenue increased to $305 million for the first half, up 2% from the total for the first half of 2006, LIMRA says.

The number of lives covered by new individual policies fell 1%.

That’s the smallest decline in new lives covered by individual LTC policies since 2002, LIMRA reports.

About 70% of the buyers bought from the top 5 carriers in the market, and the top 5 carriers’ sales grew 7%.

Half of the carriers experienced falling volume, but half reported growth, indicating that the outlook for LTC insurance is becoming more positive, LIMRA says.