Life insurance activity finishes 2016 on encouraging note

Life insurance may not have been the term of the year in 2016, but it was definitely on Americans' minds.

Though life insurance purchases hit the ground running when 2016 began, foreshadowing a record year for the industry, it's safe to say that the previous 12 months was a mixed bag for producers and agents. After several consecutive months of increased volume, the back half of the year saw consistent losses when contrasted with 2015, a string that began in August and lasted through November.

However, the latest data reveals that 2016 finished on a high note, bringing the four-month slowdown to a more-desirable end.

Purchase slide stopped cold in December
In December, life insurance application volume for individual policies edged up approximately 0.5 percent, MIB Index reported. In so doing, 2016 closed out in the black, with 1.3 percent more purchases after 12 months compared to the corresponding period in 2015.

Lee Oliphant, chief executive officer at the Braintree, Massachusetts-based MIB Group, noted that perhaps the most encouraging aspect of the year is the level of buying that took place among young people, who are known to be less likely to buy coverage.

"Over the past few years, we've seen the industry achieve solid growth in reaching younger age applicants, reflecting on-going investments in marketing and product strategies that target this demographic," Oliphant explained. "We remain cautiously optimistic that December's uptick and traditional strength observed in past January's will put the industry back on-track for a healthy 2017 performance."

On the year, life insurance purchase volume is approximately 2 percent ahead of 2015 among buyers under the age of 44, the report revealed. That's the same growth observed in the 60 and older segment, up slightly from 1.5 percent in November based on year to date numbers.

"Many millennials now have families of their own."

Millennial ownership up 48 percent since 2010
It's estimated that approximately 87 million households have life insurance coverage in place, according to data maintained by worldwide research organization LIMRA. The growth observed is largely due to strengthening ownership rates found among millennials, many of whom are now well into their 30s and have children of their own. Among millennials - who range between 18 and 35 years of age - life insurance ownership has expanded 48 percent since 2010, based on the latest available data.

It's incumbent upon life insurance agents to remind their younger clients - prospective or current - about the importance of life insurance. Though it's good to own while single, it's a must-have for millennials with families of their own. Unforeseen scenarios can put loved ones in financial jeopardy should they become gravely ill or be mortally injured after an accident.

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