“Disinterested” Consumers Offer Potential for Insurance Industry in China

Why aren’t they buying?

WINDSOR, Conn., Dec. 10, 2014 — A recent study by LIMRA and Swiss Re concluded that the so-called “disinterested” consumer in China represents an opportunity for the insurance industry.

As part of a larger effort that studied 12 Asian countries, this study The Chinese Insurance Consumer looked at eight different personal insurance products such as, life, individual health, critical illness, etc. and the distribution channels consumers used for them.

Based on their responses, consumers were categorized into three groups: buyers of insurance, non-buyers and the disinterested — defined as those who had never researched or shopped for life insurance.

Particular attention was given to the disinterested to better understand their expectations and preferences. “Many in the industry wanted us to look at the disinterested to see if there were ways to reach them,” said Ian J. Watts, senior vice president and managing director, International Operations for LIMRA. “Our study revealed there is a large base of households with strong family ties that have a need for insurance and – given the right approach – would be ideal candidates for insurance.”

Younger, female, middle income

From a demographic standpoint the disinterested group tends to be more female than male, younger to middle-aged with about two thirds under age 50. To a large degree they earn middle to higher level incomes and nearly half of them are married.

...half are not convinced insurers will deliver the benefits they promised

In the survey, they represent only seven percent of participants, compared to 13 percent of non-buyers. To better understand the disinterested, researchers engaged them in a different interview process than those who had shopped for or bought insurance. One set of questions found the disinterested were highly engaged with their families – prioritizing their families’ needs when planning for the future – which makes them strong potential candidates for purchasing insurance.

The top three examples of this include:

  • 69 percent feel obligated to take extended family members into consideration when planning for the future
  • 63 percent are concerned about their financial ability to care for themselves in old age
  • Half are concerned about their financial ability to care for their parents when they grow old

Another set of questions provided situations and asked to what degree they would be motivated to look into insurance products. Half responded that if they or a family member experienced a positive event (marriage, birth, etc.) it would prompt them to shop for insurance. In addition, half said visiting someone at the hospital prompted them to think they might need insurance.

In a different approach, researchers explored the core reasons the disinterested have not bought insurance. The responses range from 61 percent agreeing to the statement that the process is too complicated, while half are not convinced insurers will deliver the benefits they promised. Forty-seven percent said insurance is too expensive and not a good value.

“Based on all the data we collected, if the industry can successfully leverage the positive emotional influencers and address the negative perceptions, the disinterested group can be an important source of new buyers in China,” said Watts.