Consumers say buying life insurance could be easier - Global Financial Distibutors

For insurance agents, buying life insurance is a fairly straightforward affair. Being familiar with the lingo and the differences between "term" and "whole," "fixed" and "universal," purchasing coverage is simple and quick, furthered by automated underwriting capabilities many insurers have employed.

Talk to average consumers, though, and they very well may beg to differ, as a recent survey suggests that many buyers are perplexed by the process.

Two-thirds of millennials – more specifically people under the age of 40 – consider the life insurance purchase process to be difficult, according to a recent poll conducted by non-profit organization Life Happens.

More than half of general public agrees
It isn't a whole bunch better for the general public, either. Nearly 55 percent thought buying a life insurance policy could best be described as difficult.

How perplexing is it? Many respondents put it in the same ballpark as figuring out today's innovations: consumer technology. For example, when given several different examples of everyday tasks that are often perceived as complicated, over two-thirds cited using the most up-to-date technology, the findings revealed. Close to 55 percent considered buying life insurance to be the most nettlesome. Participants were asked to select three from the list of tasks commonly perceived as being confusing.

"60 percent of individual tax returns are filed by a professional."

The summer has flown by, and before you know it, it will be tax filing season once again. This is another task that a majority of Americans view as arduous. In the Life Happens poll, 66 percent of participants found tax filing to be complex. As such, many workers turn to professional help to accomplish the yearly government requirement. Based on data from the Internal Revenue Service, 60 percent of individual tax returns are filed by a professional.

Feldman: 'Opportunity for the future'
Marvin Feldman, president and CEO of Life Happens, indicated that just as certified public accountants provide quality assistance during tax time, insurance agents need to do everything they can to make themselves available to assist clientele.

"The fact that the majority of Americans view life insurance as complicated provides an opportunity for the future," Feldman explained. "As an industry, we need to better address consumers who feel confused by the process, and provide the resources necessary to reach those who would benefit from owning life insurance."

In addition to answering clients' questions, agents would be wise to direct customers to the Internet as there is a litany of highly reliable guides that take buyers through the process along with details on what terminology that may be foreign to them means. There are life insurance calculators highly available as well.

For consumers who are on the fence about buying, agents should focus on how people like them are getting covered. This is particularly true among consumers who are single. In a separate study conducted by research organization LIMRA, almost 40 percent of singles were more likely to buy coverage after being told that individuals in their position were doing so.

"Buyers are influenced by their peers."

Jennifer Douglas, associate research director at LIMRA, said that this is one of those rare instances where complying with societal norms benefits individuals.

"We don't want to believe that others' behavior influences us, but it certainly does," Douglas said. "And we're often better off for it."