The insurance industry is confusing, especially for consumers. And if brokers aren’t communicating effectively, they could be missing out on business.

“Life insurance companies may be limiting their sales potential by using words and images that do not resonate with consumers and often confuse them,” according to a recently released joint study by LIMRA and Maddock Douglas Inc.

“We’re all familiar with the philosophical problem about a tree falling in the forest and the question about whether it makes a sound,” says LIMRA Research Director Scott Kallenbach, co-author of the study. “We essentially applied the same question to what financial services companies are saying, and we’ve found that even if consumers are hearing what’s being said, they frequently don’t understand.”

The study — which included more than 1,500 interviews — revealed that 18.7 million Americans see a need for life insurance, “but they have gotten stuck somewhere in the shopping process.” Some issues consumers cited included wanting to talk to a person instead of a website, not having enough time to read through educational information and younger people feeling that the literature is tailored to older generations, according to a LIMRA video of responses. 

“The industry needs to communicate using authentic language and relatable imagery,” Kallenbach says. “Our goal here is to help financial services companies set the stage for wholesale, industry-wide changes in communication. When customers and would-be customers are able to see the value in companies’ products clearly, they’re much more likely to take an interest in them and make a purchase.”

Also see: Gen X, African Americans underserved in key market

For that change to occur, companies might need a new way of thinking, says Maria Ferrante-Schepis, managing principal at Maddock Douglas and co-author of the study. “It may require a cultural transformation,” she says. “While it can take a number of different tracks, this is about organizations shifting their attention from outputs to outcomes.”

Companies can reach consumers with relevant, up-to-date means of communication, Ferrante-Schepis says. “Change your language to better connect with consumers,” she says. “We can’t stress enough the importance of keeping it simple and emotionally resonant.” 

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