Life insurance premiums increased 3% both in the third quarter and for the first nine months of this year according to a LIMRA survey released Monday.

Total policy count declined 1% for the third quarter, but remained up 2% year-to-date.

“Whole life and indexed universal life were the sales leaders in the third quarter,” said Ashley Durham, senior analyst at LIMRA. “Both product lines have consistently performed well under challenging economic conditions because they offer consumers the opportunity for steady growth while protecting their principle from the prolonged market volatility.”

Whole life had the strongest performance in the third quarter, improving 5%. It also had the largest growth over the first nine months of 2012, rising eight percent. Nearly three-quarters of whole life writers experienced positive growth, including nine of the top 10 writers.

Universal life premiums rose 4% in the third quarter compared with the same period in 2011, and are 3% year-to-date.

Sales were primarily driven by indexed universal life, which jumped 39% for the quarter and 32% in the first nine months of 2012.