Principal Financial Group Inc. will be eliminating rate increases for small groups for several types of benefits this year, the company says.

Principal, Des Moines, Iowa, says the rate freezes will affect about 31,000 employers with 50 or fewer employees and renewal dates from July 1 through Jan. 31, 2010.

The freezes will apply to life, vision, short-term disability and long-term disability plans.

Rates for small-group dental coverage will increase about 3%, Principal says.