Bank-owned life insurance assets increased 2.5% at U.S. commercial banks and federally regulated savings banks during the 12-month period that ended June 30.

The BOLI asset total rose to $115 billion at the end of the first half, up from about $112 billion on June 30, 2008, according to Michael White Associates L.L.C., Radnor, Pa.

Banks use BOLI to offset the cost of employee benefits such as health insurance and retirement benefits.

At the end of the first half, 3,548 of the banks in the database Michael White Associates analyzed had BOLI assets. The number of banks reporting BOLI assets was down 2.7%, from 3,648 banks, in the first half of 2008.

Midsize banks were the heaviest users of BOLI: About 75% of the banks with $1 billion to $10 billion in assets held BOLI assets during the first half.

But Michael White Associates found the biggest increase in BOLI assets at banks with more than $10 billion in assets. There, the BOLI asset total increased 3.2%, to about $92 billion, from about $89 billion.