Not unexpectedly, most Major League Baseball rookies have a lower batting average than veteran players, especially early in the season. We understand they’ll weed themselves out, the survivors will improve and the group average will revert to the mean.

But an untrained observer might conclude that the latest trend in baseball is to hit less often. An irresponsible observer would ascribe cause and motivation to the data and might try to lull opposing pitchers into thinking they are easy outs, only to explode with productivity later in the season. And they’d show the early season batting data to support their position. They’d be wrong.

Carriers often ask us about self-administration of voluntary benefits, and the fact that it’s offered by more of the new voluntary carriers now than in past years. They wonder if this is a trend in the business and suggest that, after all, it’s easier on the carrier than traditional voluntary policy administration. But only one-third of employers prefer self-admin. Carrier-administered voluntary dominates the small market, is very common in the mid-market and has begun entering the large case market.

Employee benefit brokers have entered the business en mass, and many of these people are still new to voluntary, falling back on their employer-paid experience to guide them. More than 95 percent of employee benefit brokers offer voluntary benefits, although most still sell relatively little.

But in aggregate, these brokers represent 57 percent (2013) of total voluntary sales. They are moving up the learning curve rapidly, and as they mature in the business, they’re concluding that carrier ease is not as important to business retention as employer simplicity. And, self-administered usually does not equal employer simplicity. As these brokers climb the voluntary learning curve, it’s not surprising they’re beginning to migrate toward more market-friendly, sophisticated voluntary approaches.

For the near future, we are an industry targeted by many new carriers. But don’t read too much into it, as it’s a sign of rookie-carrier inexperience rather than a league-wide trend.