Employee benefits giant Unum and its recently acquired Baton Rouge-based Starmount Life brand will launch Unum dental and vision plans in selected markets in 2017 and nationally by 2018.

Starmount has about 230 employees. The company estimates as many as 30 new positions will be filled in 2017 to support the market expansion.

The new product launches are expected to accelerate the growth of Starmount, which is already one of the fastest-growing dental and vision insurance businesses and saw its annual premium jump from nearly $126 million in 2015 to about $180 million this year. 

"Our goal is, and we certainly believe it's achievable, in the first five years that we'll be writing $500 million in dental and vision premium, and the pricing, and provider networks … and the entire administration of those plans will be handled out of Baton Rouge," President Deborah Sternberg said. "We're really excited for what that means for the city and really bring a Fortune 500 company here."

Unum Vision will be rolled out nationally in 2017, while Unum Dental will be launched in the Midwest and Southeast, Sternberg said. In 2018, Unum Dental will be rolled out in the Northeast and West. Individual plans also will be launched nationally with Unum distribution in January 2017. 

Sternberg declined to estimate staffing additions for 2018. Starmount plans to analyze staffing needs in June, which will give it a better handle on what will be needed in 2018, she said.

"We have big goals, and we're staffing up to meet them, and really handling a lot of training with the Unum operation, the Starmount operation to make sure this launch goes as smoothly as possible," Sternberg said.

Unum acquired Starmount in a $127 million deal completed in August. The acquisition enabled Unum to add dental and vision to the disability, life, accident and critical illness coverage in the company's portfolio.

Follow Ted Griggs on Twitter, @tedgriggsbr.