BURLINGTON, N.C. (December 6, 2010) – In what is becoming a growing trend, the percentage of U.S. households with life insurance coverage has reached its lowest level in 50 years, leaving millions of families without protection, according to National Agents Alliance President and CEO Andy Albright and a study compiled by LIMRA earlier this year.
Roughly 30 percent of American households (35 million) have no life insurance protection at all, according to LIMRA’s 2010 Life Insurance Ownership Study, released in September during Life Insurance Awareness Month.
This trend is alarming to some, but the findings were not a surprise to Albright, who said his National Agents Alliance team is working hard to pinpoint those people who need coverage.
“The numbers in the LIMRA report definitely ring true to me,” Albright said Monday. “We have more people to talk to than we have qualified agents to address the issues. We’re working closely with a couple of national companies to get people licensed and qualified. We’re doing our best to get agents educated enough to go out and meet the demand. We are actively seeking qualified agents now. The demand that LIMRA cites is not surprising to me, it’s clear that it’s out there.”
The LIMRA survey also found that most Americans want life insurance but most don’t have an agent or broker. Only 44 percent of households have an individual life insurance policy, and 30 percent lack any individual or employer-provided life insurance. LIMRA, an industry-sponsored group, also reported that 11 million homes with children younger than 18 have no life insurance during a time when it’s needed most.
Even those with coverage are considered to be underinsured. LIMRA reports the following figures:
– Only 44 percent of U.S. households have individual life insurance – a 50-year low.
– Half of U.S. households (58 million) admit to needing more coverage – the highest level.
– Among households with children under 18, 11 million have zero coverage.
– Affluent households, with incomes greater than $100,000, also lack sufficient life insurance, with 33 percent admitting they don’t have enough coverage.
The LIMRA study also reported that the struggling economy has created additional challenges, fewer consumers are purchasing new life insurance policies and American families want to be insured but often procrastinate to find the coverage needed.
The dip comes at a time when premiums for term life insurance are markedly lower than a decade ago. Another issue is a lack of agents in the industry.
“Rates for term life insurance have continued to drop in the past decade or more. As a result, life insurance can be very affordable for American families. Unfortunately, there are still too many households that go without adequate life insurance coverage because they either believe it isn’t affordable or they don’t know where to turn,” said Butch Britton, CEO of ING U.S. Insurance. “People need to take the first step to say, ‘I want to protect my family.’ Once they recognize the need, there are a lot of resources, particularly knowledgeable life insurance agents, to help them get the necessary insurance protection.”
Albright said National Agents Alliance’s approach is to talk to people and help them find the coverage they are comfortable purchasing, regardless of its size and nature. Albright just wants people to have protection for their family.
“We don’t believe in telling a person what they need,” said Albright, who founded National Agents Alliance in 2002. “Instead, we do a great job of laying it all out on the table … all the variables involved with their situation and budget. We look at their financial situation and then we go to the carrier to find what’s best for them, whether it’s Mutual of Omaha, Foresters, which is really good with children because of them being a fraternal organization which allows them to offer a ton of free benefits that people like, or a carrier like ING, who has that big-name reputation. We’re actually working now with ING to create a product that will make more sense to the middle income American family and we can’t discuss it right now, but we hope to have it in place at some point in 2011.”
“We don’t worry about how big the sale is. We just want each person to have some level of coverage and protection. Our agents aren’t focused on only making big sales because they see so many people through our direct mail and Internet marketing techniques. We are willing to work with people at the budget they have and help get them started. Once you do that, then you can get somebody focused on savings and planning their financial future. They can build it up over time based on their budget, but it’s important to have some level of coverage. We are about to experience the largest wealth transfer that our nation has ever seen and it’s important for families to be properly insured so they have a head start for the next generation of financially secure people.”
The survey also linked the decline to the economic downturn. Families reported they haven’t purchased life insurance because they have other financial obligations. Another factor is that life insurance is not mandatory, which leads to a lot of people procrastinating when it comes to getting insured.
Albright said educating people is a key component at National Agents Alliance. Through seminars, Web sites and printed material people begin to see how important it is to be covered.
“Our agents know how hard it is to find good prospects, so we make sure that once they help somebody get the protection they need, they also get a list of their friends to call too. If they find a person who thinks it’s important to protect their family then they likely know some other people who think that is important too.
“From the economics of both the agent and the family, it’s important to get good, quality referrals. Just looking at the amount of the general public that lacks coverage, it’s critical that we get solid referrals and help more people protect their future.”
Another helpful tool families can use are discount card programs that offer reduced prices on prescription drugs in most drug stores. National Agents Alliance has an “Rx Discount Card” program that agents can give to up to three people per appointment.
“We have a national proprietary system that we call our Rx discount card and it offers discounts to people on name brand drugs as well as generic drugs,” Albright said. “We allow our agents to sponsor up to three people from each visit, we finance the entire program and it’s a free giveaway to help people. It’s really been a great program for consumers.”
ABOUT NATIONAL AGENTS ALLIANCE
National Agents Alliance is an innovative lead generation and marketing organization that sells life insurance, annuities, and other financial services products through more than 7,000 active independent sales representatives in 50 states. Focused on serving middle-income families, National Agents Alliance is the #1 United States provider of mortgage protection insurance and offers a broad array of other affordable products from highly regarded companies such as Mutual of Omaha, Foresters, and ING. Since its inception in 2002, National Agents Alliance has helped more than 670,000 families successfully apply for more than $78 billion in life insurance coverage.
For more information about National Agents Alliance, visit http://www.nationalagentsalliance.com/ or call 1-866-752-1163.
LIMRA helps more than 850 financial services companies in more than 70 countries around the world build their businesses and improve their earnings performance. They have been in business for 90 years and boast resources in research, consulting, assessment, development and compliance and regulatory services to: plan for the future, identify competition, create new products and new markets, add distribution productivity, manage sales forces and networks, find leaders. To view more facts and figures from the LIMRA report, visit http://www.limra.com/newscenter/pressmaterials/10FOL.pdf.
For more information about LIMRA, visit http://www.limra.com.
ING is a global financial institution of Dutch origin offering banking, investments, life insurance and retirement services to over 85 million private, corporate and institutional clients in more than 40 countries. With a diverse workforce of about 107,000 people, ING is dedicated to setting the standard in helping our clients manage their financial future.
In the U.S., the ING (NYSE: ING) family of companies offer a comprehensive array of financial services to retail and institutional clients, which includes life insurance, retirement plans, mutual funds, managed accounts, alternative investments, direct banking, institutional investment management, annuities, employee benefits and financial planning. ING holds top-tier rankings in key U.S. markets and serves nearly 30 million customers across the nation. For more information, visit www.ing.us.
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