New York Life Insurance Co. announced that it was the top provider of guaranteed lifetime income annuities in the United States last year, according to Limra International.

New York Life said that sales of its income annuities grew 55% in 2008, to $1.2 billion. It was the first time they topped $1 billion.

First-quarter sales of New York Life income annuities are up more than 80% through both agents and banks compared with the first quarter of last year, the company said.

The company made the announcement last week.

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