The income umbrella (AP photo/Charles Dharapak)

Eastbridge Consulting Group has come out with its latest survey of players in the voluntary market and found that they are, amazingly enough, confident.

About 90 percent of the survey participants said they expect sales of voluntary, employee-paid products to increase this year.

The percentage is about the same as in 2012.

Participants were somewhat more likely to say they expect sales to go up a little, rather than a lot, but they still expect to see sales go in the right direction.

Some of that optimism may result from the reality that many of the people who participated in the survey are sales and marketing people.

It’s hard to be an atheist in a foxhole, and it’s hard to be a pessimist and last long in sales and marketing.

Another contributing factor may be that voluntary products can do well in challenging times. Employers that get rid of traditional, employer-paid benefits because of concerns about the economy or the cost of the new health care laws might replace the traditional plans with voluntary plans.

But I think another reason for optimism is that the people in the voluntary market are in constant contact with the individual worksite consumer and see that, whatever happens at the macro level, whatever happens to interest rates, whatever screaming and hollering go on in Washington, people still get sick, still die, and still suffer disabilities that interfere with their ability to work

People still need protection products.

Where there’s still a demand, maybe there’s still an opportunity to meet that demand.

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