Nearly half of individuals purchasing critical illness insurance protection in 2009 were under age 45, according to the American Association for Critical Illness Insurance.

The AACII, Westlake Village, Calif., has examined sales data for about 130,000 individual and voluntary worksite critical illness policies and certificates issued.

About 34% of the purchasers were between ages 45 and 54, and 87% bought $50,000 or less in benefits. About 24% of the individual buyers — and 65% of the individuals buying CI as a voluntary benefit at the worksite — opted for coverage levels of $20,000 or less.

The vast majority of purchasers did so before turning age 55, AACII found.

About 20% of the individual policy purchasers were under age 35; 27% were ages 35 to 44; and 34% were 45 to 54.

The age distribution of consumers who bought CI coverage in the workplace were similar, the AACII reports.