Banks Offer Life Insurance Who Knew?

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1 Banks Offer Life Insurance Who Knew? Full Report Polly P. Eggers Distribution Research

2 Maximize the Value of LIMRA Research The value of LIMRA research extends beyond receiving a copy of a report. Our goal is to help you use the data about products, markets, distribution, and technology to decide on a course of action with greater confidence. Additional ways you can take advantage of LIMRA capabilities include: Research Follow Up Do you have questions about the research? Contact the researcher directly for additional insights, data runs and analysis, and/or implications. Custom Research Has the research raised new questions that could be answered by a customized study; or do you have other research projects you plan to outsource? LIMRA s Custom Research area can design a qualitative or quantitative study to meet your needs. For additional information, contact Consultation Are you wondering how to integrate the findings into operational and/or marketing strategies? Our industry experts are available to help you develop practical solutions. For more information, contact Webinar Would your company benefit from a presentation by the researcher? We can hold a meeting via the internet with the researcher or other topical expert to discuss the findings and to answer your specific questions. Additional Information Log on to to obtain more information from LIMRA s extensive industry databases or additional copies of this report. InfoCenter Request Searching for additional published material on a topic? LIMRA s InfoCenter staff is available to help you. Contact them at or limra.com. LIMRA also offers a range of services and products that can help you to: Assess, select, train and develop the best individuals. Maximize distribution and marketing effectiveness. Navigate the rough sea of regulatory issues. Call LIMRA First for solutions to your business needs LIMRA.

3 A 2008 Report BANKS OFFER LIFE INSURANCE WHO KNEW? 2008, LIMRA International, Inc. 300 Day Hill Road, Windsor, Connecticut , U.S.A. 390 Queens Quay West, Ste. 209, Toronto, Ontario M5V 3A2, Canada 2 nd Floor, Cardinal Point, Park Road, Rickmansworth, Hertfordshire WD3 1RE, United Kingdom Tomson Financial Building, Suite 1714, 710 Dong Fang Road, Pudong, Shanghai , China This publication is a benefit of LIMRA International membership. No part may be shared with other organizations or reproduced in any form without LIMRA s written permission LRB0 Printed in U.S.A.

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5 CONTENTS Page EXECUTIVE SUMMARY...5 RECOMMENDATIONS...6 BANKS OFFER LIFE INSURANCE: WHO KNEW?...7 Impact of Awareness... 7 Reluctant Consumers... 8 The Good News... 8 Aware, Willing, and Able to Buy?... 9 Price Is Important... 9 Accessing the Middle Market Leveraging Financial Advisors The Just Ask Model Conclusion METHODOLOGY...15 RELATED LINKS...16

6 FIGURES Figure 1 Consumer Awareness and Purchase Consideration of Bank Sold Life Insurance...7 Figure 2 Awareness and Purchase Consideration of Bank-Sold Life Insurance...8 Figure 3 Under What Circumstances Would You Buy Life Insurance at a Bank?...9 Page Figure 4 What Matters MOST When Considering Whether to Purchase Life Insurance at a Bank...10 Figure 5 Bank Market Share of Individual Life Insurance Sales...11 Figure 6 Middle-Market Appeal...12 Figure 7 Consumer Willingness to Buy Life Insurance by Channel...13

7 EXECUTIVE SUMMARY Awareness and Purchase Consideration of Bank-Sold Life Insurance A majority of consumers are not aware that they can buy life insurance at banks. Awareness, in fact, has steadily declined since The bank is seen as a viable channel for purchasing life insurance. Roughly one third of consumers would consider buying life insurance through banks if they had the need. Although most consumers will look to traditional life insurance agents when considering life insurance purchases, many see the expanding role of bank representatives as multipurpose financial services providers. Furthermore, they would be willing to consider purchasing from bank representatives if they had the need. The Receptive Market Young, middle-market consumers are the most receptive to buying life insurance from banks. This segment requires the least amount of persuasion to boost purchase consideration. As might be expected, price is the most important factor for middle-market consumers when they consider whether to purchase life insurance products through banks. Less important considerations are low-pressure situations to buy, discounts on other bank products, and convenience. Middle-market consumers would be very willing to consider both simple and more complex policies offered by banks. 5

8 RECOMMENDATIONS Build awareness of your offerings. Increasing customer awareness continues to be among the greatest challenges to a successful life insurance program. Many people would consider buying life insurance at banks if they knew they could purchase it there. Just ask. Bank representatives who make life insurance prospecting part of their traditional banking activities have had success. Simply taking the time to talk with consumers about life insurance will not only help build awareness, but also may increase people s willingness to purchase. Ultimately, asking will strengthen the foundation for life insurance sales success in the future. Focus on the middle market. People in the middle market continue to be the most receptive audience for life insurance sales in general. They report not having enough life insurance (though they re not necessarily doing anything about it). If banks and their carrier partners can effectively target the middle markets, they may provide the greatest return on the marketing dollar. Take full advantage of any advertising and promotion opportunities. When you are fortunate enough to command a consumer s attention, that moment should carry a dual message that simultaneously educates as it generates awareness of bank-sold life insurance. Informed consumers may have a stronger inclination to buy from banks. Price matters. Contrary to popular belief, people may not necessarily buy products from banks just because of their convenience. Consumers report that they would buy life insurance from banks if the price was right. Convenience was much less of a priority. Banks should try to use their financial advisors to sell life insurance. Consumers are more receptive to purchasing life insurance through financial advisors than through traditional bank representatives. Have specific and measurable goals for life insurance production. Life insurance competes for time and shelf space with other bank offerings. Even modest life sales goals for bank management and sales staff can ignite a solid bank life insurance program. 6

9 BANKS OFFER LIFE INSURANCE: WHO KNEW? If financial institutions are to succeed in selling life insurance, more people need to be aware that they have the option of purchasing it at banks. This study emphasizes the importance of building people s awareness and the potential impact that building awareness could have on bank life sales. The report also looks at some of the key incentives consumers respond to when considering life insurance product offerings from financial institutions. IMPACT OF AWARENESS Before consumers can decide whether to purchase life insurance through banks, they must first be aware that the product is available. Despite the fact that some banks have been selling life insurance for a number of years, generating awareness and purchase consideration (that is, would consumers buy through banks if they had the need) continues to be a challenge. In 2001 only half of consumers (52 percent) knew that life insurance could be purchased from banks. Since then, no progress has been made: In 2004 less than half of the U.S. adult population was aware that banks sell life insurance. Today, only 39 percent are aware that they can purchase life insurance from banks (prior to participating in our research) (Figure 1). Figure 1 Consumer Awareness and Purchase Consideration of Bank Sold Life Insurance 48% 53% 61% 30% 22% 22% 25% 25% 14% Not Aware Aware, Would Not Consider Purchasing at a Bank Aware, Would Consider Purchasing at a Bank 7

10 RELUCTANT CONSUMERS Why has awareness dropped? One contributing factor may be that consumers today are feeling overwhelmed. With the deluge of media messages coming at them from every angle, they can t take it all in. The financial services landscape has become a blur for many, as financial services organizations offer myriad products and services. Years ago, the landscape was much more clear-cut: Banks sold bank products and insurance companies sold insurance products. The blurring of the lines has resulted in a blurring of the landscape for potential buyers. Consumers admit they are confused. When it comes to making plans to prepare for their financial futures, they are reactive rather than proactive. Their financial portfolios remain disconnected, as many are unable to distinguish between savings and protection products. Furthermore, they realize they need help and advice, but they don t act. As a result, they report feeling paralyzed by their own inaction. 1 All of these considerations make for a challenging environment in which to sell life insurance through the bank channel. THE GOOD NEWS The bad news is that 61 percent of people are unaware that banks sell life insurance. The good news is that once people know banks are selling life insurance, many are willing to consider purchasing it from them. Thirty-four percent say they would consider purchasing life insurance through banks if they had the need. While that figure has declined from a high of 54 percent (in 2004), it still represents a significant opportunity for both banks and carriers (Figure 2). Figure 2 Awareness and Purchase Consideration of Bank-Sold Life Insurance Not aware, would NOT consider, 41% Aware, would NOT consider, 25% Not aware, would consider, 20% Aware, would consider, 14% 1 The Reluctant Consumer Yo-Yo: Hanging on by a String, LIMRA International

11 AWARE, WILLING, AND ABLE TO BUY? For many years we have focused on the importance of building awareness around selling life insurance through banks. The notion If people are aware, they re more likely to consider purchasing has been driving the argument to increase awareness for years now. That being said, looking at our results from another perspective raises a somewhat different, yet equally valid observation. Consider the following: There is little difference between the proportions of consumers who would consider buying life insurance at banks whether they are aware or not aware that banks sell life insurance products. Thirty-six percent of those who are aware are willing to buy, while only slightly fewer of those who were not aware (33 percent) are also willing to buy. While the chances of consumers following through and making actual purchases are greatly improved with awareness, there is no guarantee. This is where willingness to buy emerges as another challenge to the industry. How to build willingness to buy? That is the million-dollar question. Somewhere between the sales rep s art of persuasion and the consumer s compulsion to purchase lies the answer. With many bank programs well over 10 years old, program managers continue to struggle with finding the right ingredients to build successful life insurance programs. PRICE IS IMPORTANT If banks can target the 34 percent of consumers who would consider purchasing life insurance at banks, one key feature in their product offerings should be a competitive price. Almost three quarters of consumers cite lower cost as one of the reasons they would consider purchasing life insurance at banks. They are also receptive to purchasing in situations where there is no pressure to buy from bank staff. The possibility of buying other bank products at a discount or taking advantage of purchasing incentives of some kind are also appealing reasons to buy life insurance at banks. Convenience is cited the least on the list of possibilities (Figure 3). Figure 3 Under What Circumstances Would You Buy Life Insurance at a Bank? (Percent of Consumers) 73% If I could buy the insurance policy at a lower cost 60% If I weren t pressured by bank staff to buy products I don t want 56% If the bank offered discounts or other incentives on bank products (such as free checking or a higher rate on a CD) 52% If I had the convenience of having most or all of my financial needs met in one place 9

12 Asked to prioritize and choose the most important reason to purchase life insurance at a bank, consumers remain cost-conscious. When factoring in discounts on other bank offerings, 44 percent say they are looking for some kind of cost advantage, again surpassing convenience as a key reason for purchasing at a bank. Even the idea of not being pressured into buying products was viewed as more of a selling point than convenience. Price is the most critical to all age groups, particularly among younger age groups. Fifty-three percent of the youngest consumers cite lower cost as the most important product feature when considering purchasing life insurance (Figure 4). Figure 4 What Matters MOST When Considering Whether to Purchase Life Insurance at a Bank 53% 48% 47% 41% 18% 16% 14% 17% 15% 15% 18% 17% 14% 20% 21% 25% Convenience Discounts on Other Products and Services Lower Cost No Pressure from Bank Staff Back at the Bank Unfortunately, the struggles in building awareness are reflected in industry sales. According to the Kehrer-LIMRA Life Report, the banks share of life insurance sales has been on a continual decline since 2004, when it reached a high of 2.3 percent. Since then, it has decreased to its current 1.6 percent (Figure 5). While certainly other factors are at play, the struggle to build awareness and purchase consideration within the bank channel is no doubt a contributing factor in banks limited success selling life insurance. 10

13 Figure 5 Bank Market Share of Individual Life Insurance Sales 1.5% 1.4% 1.8% 2.1% 2.3% 2.2% 2.0% 1.6% Source: Kehrer-LIMRA Life Report 2008 Are financial institutions losing interest in life insurance sales, or is this just a pause in the action as organizations try to find new and better ways to tap into their markets? Or is it the result of decreased awareness and therefore decreased consumer-initiated inquiries? Some successful programs are taking full advantage of what they see as a genuine opportunity to generate revenues. Programs that offer life insurance through more than one sales method (such as financial consultants, platform reps, and direct response) have had particular success. Additionally, successful programs make selling life insurance an important part of the daily bank culture. Just ask : Since consumers are generally not aware that banks offer life insurance, reps need to bring it to their attention. By keeping life insurance a top-of-the-mind product, sales staff representatives are far more likely to make sales. And they do. Importantly, specific and measurable goals for life insurance production at banks must be in place. Life insurance competes for time and shelf space with other bank offerings. Even modest life sales goals for management and sales staff can ignite a solid bank life insurance program. ACCESSING THE MIDDLE MARKET Regardless of channel, consumers with annual household income between $50,000 and $75,000 are the most likely group to buy life insurance if they have the need. Compared with groups with different income levels, consumers in the middle market believe they need more life insurance. 2 As indicated earlier, price is an important consideration for consumers when it comes to making their life sales purchasing decisions at banks. Price is an especially important consideration to middlemarket consumers. Sixty-four percent of middle-market consumers feel that low price and discount/incentives on other bank products are the most important considerations when purchasing 2 Reaching Out to the Middle Market, LIMRA International,

14 life insurance at a bank, far more than any other income group (Figure 6). The type of policy offered does not seem to have much of an impact. Significant segments of middle-market consumers would consider buying simple policies (43 percent) or even complex policies with cash-value components of some kind (48 percent). Figure 6 Middle-Market Appeal 49% 15% 17% 19% Discounts on Other Products and Services Convenience Lower Cost No Pressure from Bank Staff $50,000 to $74,999 in Household Income LEVERAGING FINANCIAL ADVISORS Fifty percent of consumers would at least consider meeting with a bank representative when given the choice among other sources from which to buy life insurance (Figure 7). Although most consumers will look to traditional life insurance agents, many see the expanding role of bank representatives as multipurpose financial services providers. Financial consultants/advisors in banks are well-positioned to sell life insurance, according to consumers. Financial advisors in general stack up well compared with other types of life insurance sales channels, second only to insurance agents. Additionally, when compared with other products and services consumers might consider getting at banks, financial planning did well. The fact that people would consider using the services of a financial advisor or consultant more than they would consider taking advantage of many other nontraditional products or services offered at banks sheds some light on their perceptions. They are open-minded to the concept of financial planning services through banks. Across all household income levels, a significant number of consumers report that they would consider using the services of financial advisors. However, that doesn t necessarily mean that financial advisors are selling life insurance to them. In fact, most aren t. Many financial consultants in banks admit the payoff just isn t worth the effort. As a result, it s not a top-of-the-mind product for most sales representatives and it becomes much less of a priority. In turn, consumers don t get 12

15 the opportunity to choose whether to purchase life insurance at the bank, since it s not being brought to their attention. This creates a cycle of missed opportunities. Consumers won t buy life insurance if they are not given the option, particularly when most don t even know it is an option, as earlier results on awareness have shown. Figure 7 Consumer Willingness to Buy Life Insurance by Channel 19% 69% 34% 19% Maybe Yes 41% 45% 34% 16% 16% 6% 13% 4% Insurance Agent Financial Advisor Worksite Bank Rep Mail Offer Internet THE JUST ASK MODEL Has the focus on life insurance sales been overshadowed by other bank initiatives? Despite efforts to encourage financial institutions to make adjustments in their marketing and distribution efforts to make life insurance more of a priority on a macro scale, it does not seem to be happening. While some banks have leveraged complementary distribution strategies, others have found success with specific methods. Over the years, research has shown that there is no one size fits all model for the bank business. That being said, the earnings potential is tough to ignore considering what a little extra effort could buy when it comes to life sales. Training bank representatives to take 10 seconds out of their time with a customer to offer life insurance could pay sizable rewards down the line. Asking functions as free advertising. If customers are simply asked whether they d be interested in purchasing life insurance products, two things happen. First, they are made aware of the availability of the products; and, second, they very well may be willing to make purchases when they have the need. 13

16 CONCLUSION With the discouraging trends in bank life sales, financial institutions are at something of a crossroads. Is the current trend a reflection of the reluctant consumer or is it a product of a problem that s more integral to the bank life programs themselves? Our results show that many people would consider purchasing life insurance at banks. Though many banks have been in the business of selling life insurance for years, many consumers are still not aware of it. The build it and they will come approach may not be enough. Marketing life insurance through banks is not something that can be done half way. Financial institutions need to develop comprehensive strategies to build consumer awareness, linked to programs that motivate and encourage their sales reps to include life insurance as part their total product portfolios. Because many banks have limited resources to devote to their bank life programs, how those resources are deployed becomes critical. But those who do dedicate the time and effort will reap the rewards. 14

17 METHODOLOGY Just over 5,800 participants from a nationally representative consumer panel responded to questions about bank-sold life insurance. This report updates previous studies conducted in 2001 and The specific topics covered include: Consumer awareness of bank-sold life insurance Purchase considerations: Would consumers buy through banks if they had the need? Product considerations: What products would they consider buying if they had the need? Preferred buying sources: distribution channel preferences 15

18 RELATED LINKS LIMRA Reluctant Consumer Yo-Yo: Hanging on by a String (2007) Increasingly, the financial services industry is forcing consumers to handle their risk management and asset accumulation/distribution matters on their own. While the reasons for these shifts are many, they have rarely if ever been demand driven. In this environment, the financial services industry faces an unusual conundrum: How does it deal with a portfolio of products and services that is moving in a direction counter to that appreciated by its customers? To better understand this issue, this research explores how consumers make purchase and savings decisions, what anxieties they face when buying goods and services, and how they see themselves maneuvering in the new financial services marketplace. U.S. Individual Life Insurance Sales (Quarterly) This report tracks individual life insurance sales results measured by annualized premiums, face amount, and number of policies, with results reported separately for various distribution systems. Contributors include 74 U.S. companies and their 76 subsidiaries. The study tracks separate data for individual products such as universal life, term, variable life, variable universal life, survivorship life, and whole life. The survey also tracks universal life interest-rate data. Confidential reports showing individual company data are available to contributors. Reaching Out to the Middle Market Online (2007) Middle-market consumers comprise approximately 57 percent of the U.S. population, and many of them are underinsured. Online middle-market consumers who recently shopped for or purchased individual insurance products still prefer traditional channels for research and purchase. Even so, some segments of this market are more Internet-oriented, and companies can reach these middlemarket segments online and increase their willingness to research and buy online. 16

19 Kehrer-LIMRA The Kehrer-LIMRA Bank Life Insurance Sales Study ( ) This annual study of life and health insurance sales by banks is based on proprietary information provided by bank insurance programs. The study examines sales force productivity and revenue penetration of the bank customer base by distribution method, program maturity, and bank size. Also included: sales force compensation by distribution method, and the profit contribution of bank life insurance sales. The Kehrer-LIMRA Life Report (Quarterly) This quarterly report covers carrier sales of life insurance through financial institutions. It features rankings of the top underwriters and bank life sales results by product type, sales trends over time for various measures, and bank market share of life insurance sales by product type. Kehrer-LIMRA s team of experts contribute additional commentary and industry insights. 17

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22 HARTFORD MIAMI TORONTO LONDON KUALA LUMPUR SHANGHAI HO CHI MINH CITY SEOUL 300 Day Hill Road, Windsor, CT , U.S.A. P.O.Box 208, Hartford, CT , U.S.A. Phone: Fax: Web: 2008, LIMRA International, Inc. This publication is a benefit of LIMRA International membership. No part may be shared with other organizations or reproduced in any form without LIMRA s written permission LRB0

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