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Life policies, other voluntary coverage expected to surge this year

Life Insurance and Annuities
by Jan DeClue
Some seniors struggling with universal life insurance costs
Some seniors struggling with universal life insurance costs

In the past year or more, the life insurance industry has been able to recover - at least somewhat - from the blow it took during and following the recent recession, as more consumers have come back to carrying coverage after a few years of going without it. As such, many within the insurance industry think that trend is expected to continue over the course of this year as well.

In fact, Eastbridge Consulting Group recently noted that its Voluntary Industry Confidence Index - which tracks not only the life insurance sector but those for other types of voluntary coverage - ticked up to a rating of 102.9 at the end of last year, according to a report from Life Health Pro. That's an increase from a rating of 102 at the end of June, and 99 a year earlier; these were set to a benchmark of 100, in which any number above that level is considered to be positive sentiment for the state of the industry going forward. The most recent score was the highest ever seen in the survey since it was first tracked in December 2005.

And the good news for companies participating in this sector of the insurance industry is that the index is based not only on sales expectations - which many have projected would certainly grow this year - but also profitability and enthusiasm among company workers about these products in particular, the report said. Bonnie Brazzell, vice president for the consultancy, noted that carriers and brokers are very confident about improvement going forward, especially with relation to the sales growth already seen in the final half of last year.

How widespread is this optimism?
Nearly all of the industry experts polled (94 percent) said that sales of voluntary products are likely to increase over the course of 2014, and that's an increase from 89 percent just six months ago, the report said. However, 68 percent of those polled think sales will only "increase a little," while 26 percent think they will "increase a lot."

Insurers may need to be on the lookout for new potential clients - and even entire demographics - that might need life insurance following the difficulties they might have faced as the result of the recession. With so many Americans back on their feet financially, many might feel they have more to protect.

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