Each year, the life insurance industry publishes life insurance statistics to get a snapshot of how the industry is moving, changing, and progressing. Each year presents itself with new problems to overcome, whether it be strictly within the insurance industry, micro- or macro-economically and nationwide statistics help us to break down what is working and what is failing.
2015 Life Insurance Statistics: The Tech Year
Few items are more important in 2015 than how the industry is changing technologically. With advances in computers, phones and tablets, the landscape is in the middle of a giant shift in how consumers buy life insurance. In fact, 2/3 of you reading this right now are on a mobile device.
Decades ago, there we no options but to buy direct from the company or its agent, and life insurance agents ran door-to-door debit routes to collect premiums. In 2015, people are buying from their couches while watching Netflix.
This paradigm shift is brought on by technology, in part, but also the adaptation to the market by both the top term life insurance companies who choose to stay ahead of the times, and agents who have altered their mindsets on the way business should be done.
However, despite the change in how people are buying their life insurance policies, the actual number of households buying insurance are still very low. The style of purchasing is changing, but the mindsets of how people perceive life insurance as a whole are still tainted.
The average consumer does not necessarily loathe life insurance, but rather have a lax view on its importance versus the other personal and financial obligations life has presented.
Let’s take a look.
What Matters Most
- The two largest financial concerns, currently, are retirement funding and paying monthly bills, not life insurance.
Any time you have a nation worried about paying their own monthly bills, there will always be a lack of insurance purchases. Insurance tends to fall to the wayside when a family needs to pay the mortgage or rent, put food on the table, and keep the lights on.
- Life insurance falls 7th in financial priority, with less than 4 in 10 Americans even having a concern about it.
This presents a unique set of problems for the industry, because even though more people are using web-based resources to research and even buy life insurance, a very small number are actually interested and hopping onto their favorite search engine to get started.
- More than 2/3 of Americans are more worried about saving for retirement than dying prematurely and creating financial strain.
The irony here, of course, is a premature death which has yet to be planned for would make saving for retirement exponentially harder. With a vast majority of Americans having concerns about the state of the economy, priority seems to fall to towards not maximizing future potential as opposed to protecting current human value.
- As household income increases, worry about life insurance decreases.
Life insurance statistics show a direct correlation to how much a household brings in versus how much of a concern life insurance might be. This would also be consistent with the first fact, where monthly bills and putting money into a nest egg are significantly less of a worry.
- As household income increases, worry about retirement increases.
Inverse to the worries of protection, accumulation leads the way by a long shot for affluent households as a major concern. In fact, their concern for amassing retirement funds are more than double of those for lower income families.
Let’s Talk Life
- More than 4 out of every 10 people do not own a life insurance policy in any amount.
That’s right, 43 in 100 people have no coverage of any kind.
- Of those who do have life insurance, 1/3 is accounted for through group plans.
In other words, 2 in 10 people across the United States only have life insurance because it was offered through work or some type of group membership benefit. A quarter of Americans find their insurance privately, and 1 in 10 have insurance through both types.
- The vast majority of life insurance is held by persons aged 45 and older.
Despite the overwhelming evidence of a persons potential human capital lying in their first 40 years of work, Americans tend to wait until it is half over before they even consider protecting this potential with life insurance.
Each generation has a smaller and smaller percentage of individuals who are covered, possibly due to a lack of basic financial education. The style in which life insurance is marketed could also be a factor, as fewer agents are knocking on doors as previous generations have.
- Across the board, only 3 in 10 Americans feel they have sufficient coverage.
This has always been one of the most perplexing tidbits found each and every year. If so many people really feel they are insufficiently insured, why are they not getting covered?
As with anything in life, someone knows they need something, but it does not directly correlate with an action to go and take care of it. Especially with life insurance, there is a lack of education on the product itself, consumer sentiment, and even affordability all coming into play. One of the larger pieces of the puzzle, it may never have a proper solution.
- The primary reasons life insurance is purchased is for final expenses, income replacement and covering a mortgage, respectively.
It does seem apparent that those who buy life insurance are primarily buying it for all the right reasons. This is a positive sign. As research via online resources become increasingly available, those who are making the purchases are doing so in an educated, planned way. Perhaps if more were educated in a similar fashion, there would be a rise in consumer interest and buying.
- Nearly 1/3 of Americans feel the loss of the primary earner in the household would be felt within the month. Another 1/3 have no idea.
One way to consider the importance of life insurance is how great of an impact it might have if it ever needed to be utilized. However, this is nearly paradoxical. If money is so tight a family couldn’t make it another month on just one income, obviously there is little room in the budget for life insurance. So, what gives?
As with any financial plan or budget, there needs to be a fail safe, but the cost of creating that fail safe has to come out of somewhere. There is likely little to no urgency for anyone to sacrifice within their spending for a product which may or may never be used, and is completely intangible.
- Considering the previous fact, almost 60% still feel they will not buy life insurance.
This only reinforces the previous notions of possible budget reasons, no knowledge on the product, no urgency for it, or simple reluctance to buy. So, why do people not buy life insurance?
- The number one reason people cite not buying life insurance is due to perceived cost.
There are a good 2/3 of Americans who say they trust both agents and insurance companies, but the perceived cost is still the largest hurdle faced. In fact, half of affluent households maintain this same thought, citing their own living expenses are too impending to fit in life insurance as well.
The United States has always been a land of relatively poor spending, and this is yet more proof.
- 7 in 10 people feel, once applied, they should have their policy in 14 days or less.
With just 4 in 10 accepting a months wait acceptable, this is a large disconnect between those who sell life insurance and their customers.
Life insurance inherently takes 3-4 weeks on average, possibly even longer if there are associated health related issues. If you consider the length of time it takes for the blood test results to come in, medical records transferred from the doctor, and case fully reviewed by an underwriter, two weeks is clearly already pushing it. However, consumers expect speed in today’s world of technology.
There are more no exam policies available, allowing buyers to get approved in just days, but there are many limiting factors.