Years ago, voluntary represented a (relatively) new approach tobenefits, and it had seemingly unlimited potential in terms of newaccount prospects. People wondered what would happen if thatpotential was realized and most employers eventually offeredvoluntary products. Would sales slow? Would pricing pressuresaccelerate? Would the market come to resemble the traditionalemployer-paid market?

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That day has come. By the end of 2012, 77 percent of allemployers offered at least one voluntary product. Yet industrysales growth continues at a robust clip.

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There are a variety of reasons for the continued strong growth.Participation in existing accounts has strong upward potential.Employees are adding additional voluntary coverages. But anotherfactor is emerging that suggests growth has a long way to go.

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The average number of voluntary products offered by employershas been increasing steadily. The sidebar on the right shows thatamong employers who offer at least one voluntary product, theaverage number offered is in the three-to-five range, in all casesizes.

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We have been watching these numbers increase for several yearsnow and have observed an interesting phenomenon. The biggestobstacle to selling a voluntary product to an employer is gettingthat first product in place. Subsequent products become easier tosell and the number offered tends to accelerate. It's as if someemployers feared that offering voluntary has drawbacks, or involvestoo many administrative issues. But once they take the leap andhave experience with voluntary, they appear to jump on thebandwagon and accelerate their adoption of additional voluntarybenefits.

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The key is helping them get over that first hurdle. With thataccomplished, it appears the broker will have a receptive audiencefor built-in additional sales to their existing accounts.

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