Micro Group Life Sales Might Be Sizzling

Insurers that gave Gen Re data broken down by size reported 21% growth in the under-10 market

Gen Re says total new group life sales increased 4% in 2016. (Image: Thinkstock) Gen Re says total new group life sales increased 4% in 2016. (Image: Thinkstock)

Insurers might be having better luck at persuading very small U.S. employers to cover their workers against the risk of death.

Analysts in a Portland, Maine-based unit of Gen Re have found signs of strong micro-group sales growth in their latest group term life market survey. Some, but not all, of the participating issuers gave Gen Re data broken down by size for both 2015 and 2016.

At the group term life issuers that provided size breakdowns for both years, the number of new sales made to employers with one to nine covered lives increased 21% in 2016.

(Related: Gen Re Study Reveals 4% Premium Gain in Group Life Results)

The Gen Re analysts detected another sign of growth in sales of group term life to small employers.

The number of new group term life cases increased 6% in 2016, but the number of covered people in those cases increased just 3%. That means the average number of covered lives in a new group term life case fell about 3%.

The Gen Re analysts based the results on data from 29 insurers. The participating insurers account for about 85% of U.S. group term life sales.

For some indicators, such as the growth rate figures for the number of new group term life cases and the number of new group term life covered lives, the analysts have published figures showing how much those indicators changed between 2015 and 2016, but not the actual value of the indicators.

The participating insurers generated a total of $2.5 billion in sales premium revenue from new U.S. group term life sales in 2016, or 4% more than they generated in 2015.

The value of new sales of group accidental death and dismemberment coverage, or AD&D coverage, increased 19%, to $228 million.

Twenty-two companies provided AD&D sales premium data for both 2015 and 2016, and 14 of those companies reported double-digit increases in AD&D sales, the analysts write in a summary of the survey results.

In-force group life premium revenue increased 3%, to $24 billion, and in-force group AD&D premium revenue increased 6%, to $1.7 billion.

The survey results imply that tough competition, careful buyer shopping, insurers' use of new actuarial data to lower prices, or a combination of those factors drove down the cost of coverage at newly established group term life plans in 2016.

The average death benefit increased 3% at an in-force plan, to $91,600, and 7% at a new plan, to $82,138.

The average monthly premium for $100,000 in coverage fell 1% at an in-force plan, to $20.30.

At new plans, the average monthly premium for $100,000 in coverage dropped 8%, to $18.

--- Read Group Disability Carriers Reporting Higher Lives Per Plan on ThinkAdvisor.

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