Voluntary group benefits grew at a slightly faster pace in 2004 than voluntary individual benefits did.[@@]

Group product sales grew 4% last year, while individual sales grew just 1%, according to Eastbridge Consulting Group Inc., Avon, Conn.

Because sales of both types of products changed only slightly between 2003 and 2004, the ratio of individual products sold to group products sold held steady, at 57% individual and 43% group, Eastbridge says.

Gil Lowerre, president of Eastbridge, says group seem to be getting serious about the voluntary workplace market.

“We see more and more group carriers deciding that voluntary products are the future,” Lowerre says.

Eastbridge also sees companies that once sold only individual voluntary lines adding group voluntary lines.

The carriers with the best results were those that rely on group products or a mix of group and individual products, Eastbridge says.