LIMRA Report Points to Need for Change to Reach the Underinsured Market

Windsor, CT, September 11, 2006 – A new consumer research report from LIMRA says life insurance carriers need to change how they reach out to underinsured consumers if they want to capture more of the potentially large market for their products.

In a series of focus groups in the U.S. and Canada, consumers who own some life insurance expressed concern that they don’t have enough, but also offered many reasons for why they don’t get the insurance they say they need.

“We titled this report Every Excuse in the Book because that is what we heard from participants in our groups,” said Bob Kerzner, president and CEO of LIMRA. “From dread of high-pressure sales tactics to simple procrastination, and especially in lack of understanding and confidence about decisions, they offered many reasons for not buying.”

According to LIMRA’s ownership research, about 48 million U.S. households believe they are underinsured, including many that own no life insurance at all. The same study showed that 29 million households said they expected to buy insurance in the next 12 months, but only a fraction actually do.

“So the big question is why don’t they buy, even though they recognize the need and say they plan to buy,” Kerzner said. “There’s no single solution, but based on our consumers’ comments, there are four things companies could change to gain the business of the underinsured market.”

Agent recruiting – Recruiting and retention are at all-time lows. Older agents are nearing retirement and the pool of younger agents is shrinking. Fewer agents means fewer sales opportunities. The life sales career may need to be repositioned to appeal to Generation X and Y recruits.

Agent training – Saving costs by cutting training may be backfiring. Companies seem to focus heavily on product training but consumer comments suggested that agents may not be adequately trained in fact-finding, need analysis, and relationship-building. All these are important to making more sales.

Product messages – The industry needs to generate memorable and wide-reaching messages about the importance of its product and to reemphasize the protection aspect of life insurance. Behind all the reasons for not buying more life insurance, there seemed to be no real understanding by consumers of the need or value of insuring risk in an environment preoccupied with accumulation.

Promote the good that life insurance does – When asked what might motivate them to buy life insurance, some consumers suggested that contrasting the good that life insurance accomplished for one family versus the struggles of a family without enough insurance could help motivate them.

“In the final analysis, consumers want to know three things about life insurance: How much do I need? What kind do I need? What value am I getting?” Kerzner said. “If the industry can do a better job of answering those questions in all its messages and at the point of sale, results should improve.”

LIMRA Contact: Howard S. Drescher, 860-285-7875, hdrescher@limra.com

About LIMRA International

LIMRA International is a worldwide research, consulting, and performance improvement organization that helps more than 800 insurance and financial services companies in 60 countries increase their marketing and distribution effectiveness.