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  • More Agents Are Not The Solution

    February 11, 2013 by David M. Greenberg

    Insight: To reach middle-class households with children, the industry will have to embrace another way.

    Let’s take a fresh look at the problem of the declining life insurance agent population and the increasing number of uninsured consumers.

    There’s no absence of professionals vying for the business of the wealthy- from life insurance agents, registered reps of independent broker dealers, bankers, investment managers, financial planners, accountants and others. They offer a broad spectrum of financial services including life insurance. The market is competitive, the dollars significant and the rewards substantial.

    Those at the bottom of the financial ladder are preoccupied with meeting basic human needs, leaving little time or money for life insurance. Even so, many in our industry play an important role with valuable financial and emotional support, as well as thought leadership in a national conversation to increase the financial security of these families.

    Then there are the millions of middle-class households with children under the age of 18 that have no life insurance, and others that have inadequate protection. This is the group we under-serve- and it’s also our challenge.

    To meet this challenge, traditional wisdom says we need more life insurance agents talking to more people to sell life insurance. But is this really the best solution?

    Selling life insurance in this environment isn’t easy. Mortgage payments, education, retirement, health insurance, wellness, food, phone and fun compete with the life insurance conversation.

    A$500,000, 20-year term life policy costs a healthy 40-year old man$42 a month. This may not be the end game but it would be of great value to a family’s loss of earnings.

    The commission on this policy is about$408, with little or no renewal compensation. Selling 184 policies per year for a moderate$75,000 income is hard work. It’s even less compelling when considering the time spent with those who don’t buy. At the end of 10 years, an agent must service 1,840 clients to still be earning$75,000.

    While this a simplified example, it makes the point that the middle market isn’t a desirable career for life insurance agents. That’s why they gravitate to working with the affluent. Of course, some consumers will spend more than$408, and others less. Policies lapse. Some will buy other products, but this has marginal value to an agent. Quite candidly, this is an unworkable solution.

    To serve the nation’s middle-class successfully, we must address this market differently. Workplace programs and voluntary benefits help. MetLife is marketing two life policies, $10,000 and $25,000, in 200Walmart stores, more banks are involved and there are other efforts as well. Such alternatives help, but are they the answer for reaching millions of under-insureds?

    Ironically, the answer is in our hands: smartphones, tablets and online devices. This is how consumers are doing business.And it’s just the beginning. Our prospects not only research online; they buy online. They have it their way, and we can be the solution or be left behind.

    We have the capacity to create a new paradigm for our protection products. Will we take advantage of the opportunity?

    Selling life insurance in this environment isn’t easy.

     

    Originally Posted at InsuranceNewsNet on February 8, 2013 by David M. Greenberg.

    Categories: Industry Articles
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