Group disability plans and group life plans protected fewer U.S. workers in 2009, according to JHA.

Researchers at JHA, Portland, Maine, the disability and group life reinsurance division of General Re Life Corp., Stamford, Conn., have published group disability and group life figures in a summary of results from a survey of 27 disability insurance carriers and a separate survey of 33 group life carriers.

New sales of group short-term disability and long-term disability insurance plateaued at about $2.3 billion, with sales of both group STD and group LTD about the same as in 2008.

Although new sales stabilized, revenue from in-force group disability cases fell 2%, to about $13 billion.

The number of U.S. workers with STD coverage fell about 3%, and the number with LTD coverage also fell about 3%, JHA reports.

In the group life market, new sales fell 5%, to $2.4 billion, and the number of insured employees fell 2%.

But premium revenue from in-force cases held steady at about $19 billion, with the average death benefit for in-force policies increasing 3.4%, to about $71,000, and the average premium per life increasing 2.1%, to $190. Although premiums from all new group life sales fell, premiums from new sales of voluntary life products increased 9%, JHA says.

The group life total includes $1.8 billion in premiums for accidental death and dismemberment coverage.

The survey results show that the Great Recession has taken a toll on the group benefits market, according to JHA President Drew King.

“Employment was down in most industries, and employers were challenged by tough conditions for both revenue and profit growth,” King says in a statement. “The economic environment will continue to force employers to take a hard look at their overall benefit costs, and the share of these costs that they pass on to employees.”