For many individuals, daily expenses take precedence over purchasing life insurance. Sixty-one percent of consumers listed living expenses, such as groceries and rent or mortgage, as their top priority, according to LIMRA’s 2015 life insurance barometer study.
Younger employees cited dining out, shopping and their cellphone as higher priorities than life insurance. In fact, 54% of millennials ranked paying for a cellphone, Internet and cable above life insurance, LIMRA found.
“‘It’s too expensive’ is the No. 1 response consumers give for not having some or more life insurance,” according to LIMRA. When asked to estimate the cost of a 20-year, $250,000 policy for a healthy 30 year old, the median estimate was $400 a year — one in four guessed $1,000 — well over the actual cost of $160 a year, LIMRA found.
Combatting misconceptions is something Claudia Ferreira deals with all the time. Along with assuming it’s not affordable, many single employees who don’t have dependents believe life insurance is unnecessary because they don’t have anyone to protect, says Ferreira, a financial services representative at MetLife Premier Client Group.
She asks younger employees to think about their future: Will they be married one day? Will they have kids? Purchasing life insurance as a younger, healthier person is more affordable, and younger workers should consider having a policy, she says.
The misconceptions about life insurance aren’t limited to single millennials. Many Gen X employees who are married and have children also think coverage is too expensive, Ferreira says. Not only is it possible for someone with kids and a mortgage to afford a policy, but also they can purchase coverage that will help their family thrive should they die, she says.
The latter is crucial, given that 43% of Americans say they would feel the impact of the death of their family’s main source of income within six months, LIMRA found, and “29% said they would be in financial trouble in one month.”
Another misconception some individuals have is thinking they’re worth more dead than alive. However, Ferreira says, employees have to take into account they could have 20 to 40 years of earning potential — which is especially true for Gen X and Gen Y employees.
Advisers should help their clients look at life insurance beyond just a death benefit, Ferreira says. That’s an attractive aspect of permanent life insurance. “It can really provide a huge value on top of the death benefit,” she says.
For example, Ferreira has clients who are in their early 30’s who bought policies prior to having children, and now they have $50,000 in cash value. “It’s sort of like an emergency fund that they can use,” she says.
The misconceptions that younger individuals have about life insurance probably aren’t going away anytime soon. But advisers should continue to emphasize the true cost and stress that it doesn’t just have to be a death benefit, Ferreira says. Once an employee realizes the actual cost and understands how the policy works, they’re much more open to purchasing life insurance, she says.
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