Life Insurance More of a Guarantee in Uncertain Times. Research Report September 2009

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1 Life Insurance More of a Guarantee in Uncertain Times Research Report September 2009 Prudential, Prudential Financial, the Rock logo, and the Rock Prudential logo are registered service marks of The Prudential Insurance Company of America, Newark, NJ, and its affiliates Ed 09/2009 Exp 03/2011

2 How has the need for Life Insurance changed in this weak economy? Historically, life insurance has been considered a fundamental, basic financial product. For many individuals, it was the first product purchased when starting a family and many advisors would insist on adequate coverage before helping clients invest. In the last 20 years, consumer opinions about life insurance have changed. Longer life expectancies may have contributed to a lower sense of immediate need. Many consumers may have felt secure with their high home values and high stock values in their retirement plans or other investments. But in the last 12 months, the economy has taken a historical turn. Jobs have been lost and employers have cut benefits while home values weakened and equity account values declined. As a result, many consumers have cut back or reduced their exposure to a broad range of consumer goods and financial products. Was life insurance perceived as important enough to hold on to? Is life insurance becoming once again a fundamental requirement? What are the implications for consumers? About the Study Prudential Financial s study on Taking a Pulse of American s Changing Life Insurance Needs polled 1,000 Americans about the effects of the market downturn and their life insurance knowledge, attitudes, ownership and actions taken. The survey was administered from June 24 to July 1, The margin of error is +/- 3% at a 95% confidence level. Respondents are online panelists invited by MRops, a Pennsylvania-based, independent, market research firm, to participate in this study. Study participants are a national sample of male and female sole/joint heads of households between the ages of 30 to 59, with a 2008 household income of $50,000 or more and at least $25,000 in total savings and investments. Additionally, they own at least three of the following financial products: Individual life insurance Long term care insurance Traditional savings accounts Mutual funds Stocks or bonds Annuities Defined contribution plans IRAs Estate plan/ will None Group Only Individual Only Both Group and Individual 2

3 In this climate of financial insecurities, consumers look to solutions that help protect and preserve The recent market downturn has left consumers of all wealth levels feeling insecure about their investments and financial future. Total Household Assets $1M+ $250K+ $100K+ $25-$99K While consumers have doubts about riskier products, they also question whether low yields of conservative products would be sufficient to achieve their goals. 3

4 The value of guarantees are more pronounced than ever given recent market experiences Consumers seek product solutions that address the uncertainties in life willing to pay for guarantees even if it means higher cost. I would worry less about the market downturn if a portion of my portfolio was in products with guarantees. I am more inclined to believe products with guarantees are worth the cost than I was prior to the market downturn. Prior to the market downturn, I did not fully appreciate all that could go wrong. Most of all, responsible Americans are looking for a guarantee that their loved ones will be protected, should they die prematurely. I value the guarantee that my life insurance coverage is there, if ever needed. 94% Agree among Current Life Insurance Owners 4 By Change in Value of Investments/Savings in Past 18 months

5 Life insurance helps guarantee that loved ones will be more protected when backed by a sound, reputable firm Beyond just death benefits, interest in the types of guarantees offered by life insurance products is high. Interest in learning about types of guarantees life insurance can provide. Interest in Additional Enhancements if Available for an Additional Cost Early payout of policy benefits to pay for medical bills in the event of terminal illness. Waiver of premium if you become disabled. Waiver of premium for up to 1 year if you are laid off from your job. Additional death benefit that applies if you should die in an unforeseen accident. Particularly in light of recent industry troubles, consumers view product guarantees to be only as good as the financial stability of the company offering it. More than ever, it is critical that products with guarantees are offered by companies with financial strength. When shopping for life insurance, the possibility of outliving one s insurance company has become a real concern. 87% Agree 77% Agree 5

6 Summation Experiences in the last 18 months have taught Americans to re-examine some basic assumptions about their finances. The simultaneous decline in the equity and housing markets had many consumers faced with asset emergencies, while high rate of unemployment threatened income emergencies. Wealthy or not, everyone was impacted by the market downturn and were left feeling insecure about their financial futures. In these uncertain times, many consumers find themselves questioning their investment choices and savings vehicles, wondering how they will meet their financial goals when nothing is guaranteed. In fact, three-quarters of Americans agree that they would worry less about the market downturn if a portion of their portfolio was in products with guarantees. Looking back, two-thirds of Americans admitted that prior to the market downturn, they did not fully appreciate all that could go wrong. However, an overwhelming majority of consumers today are more inclined to believe products with guarantees are worth the cost. The importance of contingency plans the need to ensure that financial assets are secured and loved ones are protected have never been more clear than they are today. Life insurance is a vehicle that can help guarantee that your loved ones receive the death benefit proceeds, even if the individual is not there to reap those benefits. However, some life insurance policies offer additional guarantees through riders that can be added to the basic policy at an additional cost. Some of these are: Accelerated Death Benefit: an insured person can use the death benefits under this rider if he or she is diagnosed with a terminal illness that will considerably shorten the insured's lifespan. Waiver of Premium: the future premiums are waived off if the insured becomes permanently disabled or loses his or her income as a result of injury or illness prior to a specified age. Unemployment Rider: a full-year s premiums are waived off if the insured becomes unemployed. Typically some conditions would have to be met such as a minimum period of time during which the policy have been in force. Accidental Death: pays out an additional amount of death benefit if the insured dies as a result of an accident. 6 The above are just some examples and there are many other riders on the market today that can provide individuals with more control over the uncertainties in life. Consumers are encouraged to speak to their advisors to understand the provisions, terms and conditions of each as they vary by insurance companies and by State where the policy is issued, in order to determine what would best fit individual needs. All guarantees are based on the claims-paying ability of the issuer and would not apply to any underlying investment option, if available.

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