With Life Insurance Awareness Month now underway, advisors can look forward to an advertising and marketing blitz from the industry’s behemoths. The aim: to promote protection products to the nation’s uninformed, befuddled, uninsured and underinsured consumers.
The product manufacturers have their work cut out. According to a new survey, few Americans look to life insurance to fund living expenses beyond replacing income of a departed breadwinner or funding funeral expenses. And 43 percent believe the product to be too costly.
So reports Northwestern Mutual in its annual “2015 Planning & Progress study,” an online survey of 2,010 U.S. adults conducted in January. The research explores Americans’ attitudes and behaviors toward money, goal-setting and financial priorities.
The report shows that more than half of adults (51 percent) own life insurance. The other 49 percent of the adult population cite a host of reasons for not owning life insurance. Among them:
- 43 percent say that life insurance is too expensive.
- 31 percent say that coverage is a low priority compared to other expenses.
- 14 percent say they never thought about life insurance and don’t know much about it.
- 12 percent don’t know where to start.
- 8 percent note they don’t have time to research/learn about/explore their options.
- 6 percent say that life insurance is too complicated.
- 5 percent say the product is too stressful.
Among respondents who say they don’t know much about life insurance or haven’t given the product a moment’s thought, millennials are most numerous at 28 percent. Smaller percentages of Gen Xers (16 percent), boomers (6 percent) and older seniors or “matures” (8 percent) also fall into this category.
Given the lack of knowledge about life insurance, it’s understandable that most respondents believe life insurance is used for paying funeral expenses (68 percent) and providing income for survivors (59 percent). But few cite the product’s other living benefits. Examples:
- Paying mortgages and debts (23 percent)
- Paying estate taxes (15 percent)
- Creating an estate (12 percent)
- Providing a cash flow in retirement (8 percent)
- Equalizing an inheritance (7 percent)
- Paying for college (5 percent)
- Taking out a loan/borrowing against (5 percent)
- Funding charitable contributions (4 percent)
“At a time when so many Americans are wrestling with how to achieve long-term financial security, people are overlooking one of the most critical tools to meet that goal,” says David Simbro, senior vice president of Life and Annuity Product, Northwestern Mutual. “Unfortunately, too many people lack a full understanding of all the ways permanent life insurance can be used to provide financial security. They see it as a single utility product, when it’s really more like a Swiss Army knife — it can be used for an amazingly diverse range of needs.”