Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Co. is planning to add a number of financial representatives in Connecticut who will be independent contractors working for commissions.

The life insurer will add 24 full-time people and 30 interns in West Hartford as part of a nationwide effort to bolster the company's commission-based sales force by 5,500 this year across the U.S.

At four offices in West Hartford, Hamden, Guilford and Springfield, Mass., the company will add 62 financial representatives and 90 financial interns. Financial representatives will sell the life insurer's products.

"The company is seeing both a need and a demand nationwide for a tailored planning approach to asset protection, growth and savings solutions," Jeffrey Zuzolo, managing partner of Northwestern Mutual's office based in West Hartford, said in a prepared statement.

Financial representatives are independent contractors, though Northwestern Mutual provides a benefits package that includes medical coverage, life insurance and disability coverage to all full-time representatives.

Life insurance ownership is at a half-century low point in terms of the percentage of American households with life coverage, according to Windsor-based LIMRA, which is an industry-funded trade group. However, sales of certain types of life products are improving, particularly among Baby Boomers and retirees.