For a benefit that the majority of employees claim not to know exists, critical illness insurance is doing quite well. A recent MetLife survey on CI revealed that even among the 28% of employee respondents who say they have heard of CI, most have it confused with group health, disability or a government-sponsored program. Nonetheless, aggregate data on 2009 sales from LIMRA, Gen Re and the National Association for Critical Illness Insurance show 38 direct writers of CI reporting a total of nearly $156 million in annualized premium.

"We've seen increased sales in critical illness in 2010 and I think we'll see even more in 2011," says Brad Ridnour, a regional sales vice president with Trustmark Voluntary Benefit Solutions. He credits the growth of CI in part to its broad coverage appeal and the need to fill mounting coverage gaps as plan sponsors employ high-deductible health insurance plans.

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