The U.S. division of Wellesley, Massachusetts-based insurance company Sun Life Financial has been experiencing increased success in its variable annuity business, as the demand for these instruments has risen.

For the first half of 2009, SunLife’s VA sales rose 35%, the company noted in a release, well above the Morningstar/VARDS Industry average of -25.4% for the same time period when compared to the first half of 2008. Sun Life’s VA assets rose the first six months of 2009 by 10.7%, also beating the comparable 5.1% industry average gain for the same time period. The company has also almost doubled its market share in VA sales since the end of 2008, and reports that 91% of all its new VA sales for the first half of the year included at least one optional living benefit.