Polarization among the nation’s midsize life insurers is accelerating due to a business environment that is becoming increasingly severe, according to the fiscal 1999 earnings reports the seven firms had released as of Monday.

New life insurance policies and pension plans signed by the seven life insurers dropped 8.1 percent to 19.23 trillion yen, following the collapse of Toho Mutual Life Insurance Co. in June last year.

Outstanding life insurance policies concluded between the seven and individual policyholders also dipped, by 4.1 percent to 173.98 trillion yen, due to a high level of cancellations.

Amid the dismal figures, Fukoku Mutual Life Insurance Co. appeared least affected, logging a 2.5 percent rise in new life insurance and individual annuity contracts — a mainstay product for life insurers — from the previous year to 3.596 trillion yen for the business year ending March 31.

Fukoku was the only one of the seven to see outstanding contracts for individuals grow, posting a 1 percent gain from the previous year to 36.642 trillion yen, company officials said.

Fukoku’s solvency margin ratio, a key measure of financial health for insurers, stood at 906.5 at the end of fiscal 1999, well above the 200 percent insurers need to be deemed creditworthy.

Meanwhile, Daido Life Insurance Co. reported a solid solvency margin ratio of 1004.2, while Taiyo Mutual Life Insurance Co. posted a ratio of 1050.3. However, both logged declines in new individual life insurance and annuity contracts as the lingering recession weighed on them.

Daido logged a 3.2 percent decline in new individual life insurance and individual annuity contracts, while Taiyo posted a slight drop of 0.4 percent in the same category.

For the rest of the second-tier life insurers, however, fiscal 1999 proved to be another bleak year. New individual contracts for dropped 10.3 percent to 3.221 trillion yen for Chiyoda Mutual Life Insurance Co. and 19.4 percent to 4.046 trillion yen for Kyoei Life Insurance Co.

Nichidan Life Insurance Co., which was formerly Nippon Dantai Life Insurance Co. before entering the AXA Group last year, suffered a drop of 17.9 percent in new individual contracts, which came to 1.218 trillion yen. Nichidan officials stressed, however, that sales of new policies have gone up since the firm joined the French group.

Tokyo Mutual Life Insurance Co., the smallest of the seven, said its new individual contracts totaled 683 billion yen, down 1.4 percent from the year before. Outstanding individual contracts also declined, falling 6.8 percent to 6.468 trillion yen.

The solvency margin ratios of the four are hovering at low levels, with Chiyoda at 263.1, Kyoei Life, at 210.6, Nichidan Life at 425.9, and Tokyo Mutual at 446.7.