Jackson National Life, a wholly owned subsidiary of Prudential plc reported total sales and deposits of more than $5.7 billion in the first quarter, up 31% from the year-ago quarter and up 5% from the fourth quarter.

The Lansing, Mich.-based insurer recorded annuity net flows of $3.1 billion in the quarter, up 35% for the year-ago quarter.

Company officials said the better-than-expected inflows were a result of strong sales nationwide as well as low levels of surrender activity.

"Jackson has benefited from a flight to quality in the retirement services industry due to our focus on sustainable growth," CO Mike Wells said in a statement. "The long-term, disciplined approach we take in balancing new sales opportunities with corporate profitability is a primary contributor to Jackson’s financial stability, which has established the company as a reliable business partner among advisers and their clients."

Wells also credited a recent hiring spree -- Jackson has increased its number of licensed agents and registered reps more than 18% in the past year -- as well as a robust stock market for its early success in 2011.

Total variable annuity sales rose to $4.6 billion in the quarter, up 45% from the first quarter of 2010 and up 9% from the prior quarter.

Curian Capital, Jackson's registered investment adviser that provides fee-based managed accounts and investment products, raked in $632 million in deposits in the quarter, up 31% year-to-year. At quarter's end Curian's total assets under management totaled $6.2 billion, up from $5.4 billion sequentially.

Sales of fixed index annuities fell to $326 million in the quarter, compared to nearly $473 million in year-ago quarter.

Its parent company, Prudential plc, on Wednesday reported first-quarter sales of 888 million pounds (or $1.5 billion), well above most analysts' forecast for the quarter.