Eastbridge Consulting Group’s Voluntary Industry Confidence Index is at its highest level in three years, according to an announcement released Monday.

The overall Confidence Index increased to 99.9, up from 95.9 at year end 2009 and 92.9 in the mid-year 2009 survey.

“We are quite excited to see the index continue to go back up as those in the industry grow more confident of voluntary’s role,” said Gil Lowerre, president of Eastbridge. “We believe this is a result of both our slowly improving economy as well as the opportunities that those in the industry see with health care reform and employer efforts to control benefit costs while still providing employees a way to cover their families.”

The index is calculated using three key expectation measures about the voluntary industry:

  • Sales growth
  • Profitability of the industry
  • Employee enthusiasm about voluntary products

“All three of the key measures for the index were up this time,” said Bonnie Brazzell, vice president, Eastbridge, “but we saw significant increases in the questions about industry profitability and employee enthusiasm for voluntary.”

Eighty-two percent of respondents expect employee enthusiasm to increase, up from 71 percent as of the year-end 2009 survey. Eighty-six percent of respondents in the most recent survey (conducted in July) believe that sales will increase over the next 12 months. [See related: AUL named a voluntary sales growth leader]

The Voluntary Industry Confidence Index study is conducted semi-annually and includes responses from individuals active in the market–carriers, brokers, and vendors.