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Voluntary product sales increased by 4.5% between 2010 and 2011, new research reveals.

Eastbridge Consulting Group Inc., Avon, Conn., published this finding in a summary of results from its 2012 annual Worksite/Voluntary Sales Report. The report estimates sales for the entire voluntary industry with detailed data on the performance of more than 60 carriers, both group and individual.

The report reveals that voluntary product sales reached $5.5 billion in 2011, up 4.5% over 2010.

As in recent years, life insurance took the largest share of the line of business sales: Life sales totaled $1.4 billion, up about 1.3% over 2010 and was the third straight year of increases.

As in prior years, term life sales were significantly higher than UL or whole life sales. But the term line actually had a slight decrease (down 2%) while the UL/WL line was up about 8%, says Eastbridge.

Voluntary disability sales totaled $1.1 billion, up 3% over 2010 and breaking a two-year slide in disability sales. Short-term disability sales were down 3% from 2010, but still accounted for about 70% of disability sales.

Long-term disability sales were up 19% to $321 million, the study says.

Accident sales accounted for 13% of total voluntary sales and had a healthy increase of 14% over 2010 results. Hospital indemnity/supplemental medical also had a 13% share of the total sales, but a more modest increase at just 2%.

Cancer sales were up about 2% from 2010 while critical illness sales were up 20% for a total of $243 million in sales, the survey says.

For the first time since the report’s inception, group voluntary product sales surpassed individual voluntary sales. For 2011, the mix was 55% group and 45 percent individual. The group line grew at a rate of about 15% over 2010 while the individual line decreased about 6%.