How Are We Going to Reverse This Trend?
Too many Americans don’t have sufficient life insurance coverage. We all know that. LIMRA has been conducting research, tracking life insurance ownership in the U.S. for more than 60 years. Despite our industry’s best efforts to educate and engage consumers, the results have not improved.
According to the 2023 Insurance Barometer Study, conducted jointly by LIMRA and Life Happens, 48 percent of U.S. adults are completely uninsured, up from 37 percent in 2011. Yet even those with life insurance recognize they don’t have enough coverage to protect their loved ones. Overall, 41% — representing more than 100 million adults — say they live with a coverage gap.
There are many underserved markets with even greater life insurance needs. Young people, Black and Hispanic Americans, and women all report higher coverage gap rates. The good news is these groups were more likely than the general population to say they planned to buy coverage this year. Are we doing enough to help them achieve this goal?
Americans Who Believe They Don’t Have Enough Life Insurance Coverage
People offer many reasons why they don’t buy life insurance: they have other financial priorities, they think it is too expensive, they don’t know how much they need or what to buy, and they simply believe they don’t need it. The reality is people’s understanding about life insurance is low. Just a quarter of Americans say they are very knowledgeable about life insurance. This creates misconceptions about costs — more than half of Americans overestimate the cost of life insurance three-fold — and uncertainty about what they need and how life insurance can support their holistic financial security.
In my opinion, our industry’s biggest challenge is figuring out how to effectively communicate the benefits of life insurance in a dramatically different ecosystem. For decades, we relied on agents and advisors to be the front line in communicating the value of our products. But today, 6 in 10 people say they don’t work with an agent or advisor and 15 percent say not being approached is a major reason they haven’t purchased coverage.
LIMRA research shows people are accessing financial information in different ways than in the past. In 2018, just 25 percent of consumers said they used social media sites for financial information and/or communication. In 2022, this has more than doubled to 53 percent, and for younger adults, it’s closer to 8 in 10. On top of that, our population has never been more diverse, and today’s consumers are more likely to expect a personalized experience. The need to develop targeted messaging that resonates with individuals of various races, ethnicities, etc. has never been more critical.
In addition to changes in where people seek information, this year’s study shows — for the first time ever — more consumers say they would prefer to shop and buy life insurance online than buy a policy through a financial professional (32 percent versus 29 percent). That said, the reality is consumers’ lack of knowledge about life insurance has traditionally resulted in indecision and inaction. Getting people to buy life insurance will likely take some human intervention. I believe our industry needs to do more to tackle the challenge of combining the digital experience with access to human guidance to get the information and advice to consumers where they are.
Life insurance is the one product that can help families keep a roof over their heads, provide for basic living expenses and allow time to recover and heal from the loss of a loved one. LIMRA’s research shows that people do not fully understand the risks they take by not having adequate life insurance coverage.
Life Insurance Awareness Month 2023
Celebrating the 20th Anniversary of Life Insurance Awareness Month
As we commemorate the 20th anniversary of Life Insurance Awareness Month, LIMRA has launched its 2023 LIAM page. In it, you will find fact sheets, infographics, interactive pages and social media posts that highlight our research about the perceptions and misconceptions consumers hold about life insurance. We hope these resources help our members and the broader industry engage and educate consumers about the important role life insurance plays in financial security and protecting the ones they love. Hopefully, we can reverse the life insurance ownership trend and fulfill our industry’s mission of protecting families’ financial security.