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Individual Disability Policy Sales Climb 13%: Gen Re

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Insurers were better at increasing the number of new U.S. individual disability insurance policies sold in 2018 than at increasing the total number of U.S. residents with individual disability coverage, according to new survey results from Gen Re.

The number of new policies sold increased 13% from the 2017 total, to about 289,000.

The total number of people with individual disability coverage increased only about 0.9%, to 3 million.

(Related: Disability Insurance Awareness Month Taps Into Financial Wellness Movement)

Gen Re is a South Portland, Maine-based reinsurance arm of Berkshire Hathaway. Analysts at the firm base their individual disability market figures on results from an issuer survey.

Fifteen companies participated in the latest survey. The number of issuers was the same as it was for the 2018 survey.

Here’s a look at some of the 2018 performance figures for new individual policy sales:

  • Premium revenue from new sales increased 2.8%, to $413 million.
  • The value of the new benefits sold increased 7.8%, to $1.9 billion.

The average premium per newly covered life fell about 1%, to $6,574, based on ThinkAdvisor calculations made using Gen Re data.

Here’s a look at some of the performance figures for in-force coverage:

  • In-force premium revenue increased 2.1%, to $4.8 billion.
  • The total amount of benefits in force increased 1.6%, to $19 billion.

ThinkAdvisor calculations suggest that the average amount of premium revenue per in-force policy increased 0.7%, to $6,314.

How Gen Re Analysts See the Numbers

A year ago, Gen Re analysts described 2017 “as a very good year” for the U.S. individual disability market.

Early signs are that sales in the first quarter of 2019 were strong, but sales were soft in 2018, the analysts report.

Limited market expansion was one problem, but “lack of qualified distribution” was another problem, the analysts say.

Issuers are also expecting to face problems in the future with finding qualified underwriters and claim administrators.

Only about one-third of the issuers told Gen Re they’re having trouble filling those kinds of jobs today, but two-thirds said they expect to have problems with filling underwriting and claim administration posts five years from now.


A link to a summary of the new Gen Re survey results is available here.

— Read Why You Should Sell Disability Income Protection Insuranceon ThinkAdvisor.

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