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Group disability insurance sales up for first half of 2000

Total group disability insurance sales for the first half of 2000 are up more than 10 percent over the first half of 1999, according to a national study.

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This year's sales growth is an improvement over the 8 to 9 percent growth rate the industry has seen over the last five years.

Total group disability sales for the first six months of 2000 were $4.11 billion, up 10.2 percent from $3.73 billion during the same period in 1999, according to John Hewitt & Associates (JHA), a research firm in Portland, Maine. The survey, released on Sept. 8, polled 39 disability insurance companies, including 19 of the top 20, representing more than 90 percent of the market.

Disability insurance pays a percentage of your income if you are unable to work for an extended period of time due to injury or illness. Short term disability pays a percentage of your salary for usually either 13 or 26 weeks, and generally starts one to eight days after becoming sick or disabled. Long term disability pays a percentage of your salary for any period from two years until retirement, and generally kicks in after 90 or 180 days after becoming disabled. Plans vary, but most group disability plans pay 60 percent of your salary, according to Drew King, vice president of marketing at JHA.

Total long term group disability sales in the first half of 2000 were $3.11 billion, up about 10 percent from $2.83 billion during the same period last year. Total short term group disability sales were $997 million, up about 13 percent from $880 million.

In terms of new sales, total group disability sales during the first six months of 2000 grew 10 percent, to $916 million, according to JHA. New first half 2000 sales for long term disability insurance grew 10 percent from the same period in 1999 to $655 million. New first-half 2000 sales for short term disability insurance grew 12 percent to $261 million, JHA reports.

King says this year's sales growth is an improvement over the 8 to 9 percent growth rate the industry has seen over the last five years. King attributes the growth to a number of factors, including:

  • The aging of the insured population: This results in increased premiums because people are more of a risk to become disabled as they grow older
  • Availability: More employers are offering disability insurance to employees
  • Increase in renewals: More and more employers are renewing their disability insurance contracts, which often includes adding more employees to the group policy
  • Wage inflation: As employers boost wages in an effort to retain workers, they also have to pay more in disability insurance premiums. That's because disability insurance replaces a percentage of a worker's income.

Top 10 Long term disability insurance companies, ranked by earned premium

Insurance company 1999 first-half sales (in millions) 2000 first-half sales (in millions) Current market share
UnumProvident Corp. $896.3 $919.1 29.5%
Metropolitan Life Insurance Co. $194.9 $294.4 9.5%
CIGNA Corp. $263.9 $272.2 8.7%
Hartford Life Insurance Co. $212 $250 8%
Standard Insurance Co. $195.9 $212.4 6.8%
Prudential Life Insurance Co. of America $136.7 $171.6 5.5%
Fortis Benefits Insurance Co. $143 $149.2 4.8%
CNA Financial Corp. $151.7 $139.1 4.5%
Aetna Inc. $80.1 $87.3 2.8%
Liberty Mutual Group $71.5 $85 2.7%
Source: John Hewitt & Associates

Top 10 Short term disability insurance companies, ranked by earned premium

Insurance company 1999 first-half sales (in millions) 2000 first-half sales (in millions) Current market share
UnumProvident Corp. $228.1 $252.9 25.4%
Hartford Life Insurance Co. $91 $108 10.8%
Metropolitan Life Insurance Co. $62.8 $79.8 8.0%
Prudential Insurance Co. of America $52.4 $64 6.4%
Guardian Life Insurance Co. $44.2 $48.6 4.9%
CIGNA Corp. $48.9 $47.9 4.8%
Standard Insurance Co. $38.5 $47.1 4.7%
Fortis Benefits Insurance Co. $38.8 $44.3 4.4%
CNA Financial Corp. $31.6 $40.5 4.1%
Liberty Mutual Group $27.5 $33.5 3.4%
Source: John Hewitt & Associates

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