The nation’s nine major life insurers had financial improvements in fiscal 2005 due mainly to appraisal gains on stockholdings.

Their combined insurance premium revenues also rose 0.8 percent from the previous year to 18.06 trillion yen, their first increase in eight years.

The balance of individual contracts continued to fall at most firms, according to their annual financial reports released through Monday.

In terms of annualized premiums, however, five of the nine insurers had an increase in new contracts in the business year through March 31, supported by brisk sales of medical and nursing insurance products — an emerging market in the industry where Japanese and foreign insurers are competing.

Among the nine, industry leader Nippon Life Insurance Co. posted overall premium revenues of 4.84 trillion yen, up 0.3 percent, and Sumitomo Life Insurance Co.’s premium revenues jumped 16.8 percent to 3.02 trillion yen. But Dai-ichi Mutual Life Insurance Co. saw a 3.7 percent fall in premium revenues to 3.4 trillion yen.

The economic upswing helped all nine companies boost their solvency margin ratios, a key indicator gauging insurers’ ability to pay policyholders.

The 225-issue Nikkei stock average soared about 46 percent in fiscal 2005, finishing at 17,059.66 on March 31 compared with 11,688.95 the previous year, which helped boost appraisal gains on the insurers’ stockholdings.

Nippon Life Insurance Co. had the highest solvency margin ratio of the nine at 1,257.9 percent as of March 31, up 282.7 percentage points from the prior year.

Daido Life Insurance Co. came in second at 1,254.4 percent, up 217.2 points.

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