Critical Illness Tops Voluntary Industry�s List of Growth Products Again According to Eastbridge Study

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AVON, CONNECTICUT, USA (August 6, 2008) – Once again, the critical illness product was selected by carriers as likely to be one of their company�s (and the industry�s) top three growth products over the next few years. The study, Voluntary Product Trends, is conducted every other year by Eastbridge Consulting Group, Inc.

“It’s very interesting,� says Gil Lowerre, president of Eastbridge, �that every year since the study�s inception in 2002, critical illness has made the list of expected growth products. Yet, sales over the past few years have been somewhat slow.� In fact, in 2007, critical illness sales actually decreased about 12 percent compared to 2006.

�Carriers seem to have a love-hate relationship with critical illness products,� says Bonnie Brazzell, vice president, Eastbridge. �On the one hand, they continue to select the product as a growth product. But on the other hand, they often name it as the product that has not grown as expected.� Almost 20 percent of the carriers surveyed this year named the product as one that has not grown as they expected.

In addition to making the list of top growth products, critical illness was also one of the most frequently mentioned products that carriers expect to introduce in the next two years. In fact, 35 percent of carriers said they are likely to introduce a new critical illness product in the next two years.

Carriers also named term life and short-term disability as products likely to lead their own company�s growth. But when asked what products they believe will lead the industry�s growth, carriers named limited benefit medical plans and supplemental medical plans (in addition to critical illness).

�Over the past few surveys,� notes Lowerre, �we have seen a trend for carriers to choose one or more of their �core� voluntary products (life or disability) as growth products for their company. But they believe that the industry, as a whole, will be growing through some of the newer products, like limited benefit plans.�

The 2008 Voluntary Product Trends Frontline Report updates our 2002, 2004, and 2006 studies on the same topic. Eastbridge Insight and Information Partner Companies as well as survey participants receive the Frontline Report free of charge.

About Eastbridge

Eastbridge Consulting Group, Inc. is a marketing advisory firm serving insurance and financial services organizations in the United States and Canada.