U.S. individual life insurance sales rose 8% in new annualized premium in 2007, reports LIMRA International.

“2007 was a strong year for life insurance, with all product lines showing positive growth,” says Ashley Durham, product research analyst for LIMRA, Windsor, Conn.

Durham attributes most of the fourth quarter sales growth to new products, product enhancements–including stronger guarantees and repricing–better service and entrance into new distribution channels.

Total face amount sold in 2007 rose by 5% over the previous year, while the total number of new policies sold remained about level with 2006.

Of 78 companies participating in the survey (representing 80% of the market), 65% reported sales were up, and nearly 40% experienced double-digit increases. Double-digit sales declines were reported by 14% of companies.

Universal life led with a 17% sales increase for the quarter and 11% for the year. Variable UL sales continued to rebound from the first half of the year, with a 12% growth over the previous quarter and 7% year-to-date.

Term life sales were up 5% for the year, and whole life grew 3% for the year after 2 straight quarters of flat sales.

LIMRA’s estimates of industry premium market share of each product shows 41% for UL, 15% for VUL, less than 1% for variable, 22% for term and 22% for whole life.

Despite the uncertainty about the ultimate fate of the estate tax, survivorship sales ended the year 15% higher than in 2006, LIMRA reports.