Milk, Laundry Detergent and Life Insurance?

It’s available in retail, but don’t dismiss face-to-face sales just yet

by Marvin H. Feldman, CLU, ChFC, RFC

Mr. Feldman is president and CEO of The Life Foundation

reprinted with permission

When you walk through the aisles of Wal-Mart, you can quickly fill up a shopping cart with essentials like laundry detergent, socks, peanut butter, light bulbs and life insurance. Yes, life insurance.

Beginning late last year, MetLife started offering prepaid life insurance policies at 200 Wal-Mart stores in Georgia and South Carolina, as part of a pilot program.

Numbers may bear the company out. Nearly one in five consumers (17%) say they would be willing to purchase life insurance coverage directly from a retail outlet, according to just-released findings from the 2013 Insurance Barometer Study, conducted by the LIFE Foundation and LIMRA. The reasons they give make sense: The majority of those who said they would consider buying life insurance at a big-box retailer cite reasonable cost (63%), while advantages like a simple buying process (44%) and convenience (43%) also ranked highly.

The power of face-to-face

The truth is that while many people say they would drop a life insurance policy in their cart while shopping, it’s a novel concept that hasn’t been tested. The Barometer study showed that most people still prefer to buy face-to-face—to ask an agent questions, to understand the nuances of the product, to get a life insurance plan tailored to their exact needs.

That said, we also know that a lot of people procrastinate getting life insurance. The study showed that while the vast majority of consumers (85%) agree that most people need life insurance and 65% say they personally need it, just 62% indicated that they have life insurance coverage. Some view the road to life insurance ownership as a complicated process. But what if that first step into life insurance ownership for these procrastinators could happen at the same time they were buying milk?

People often joke that they walk into a store like Target for some window cleaner and walk out an hour later having spent $300 on a cart full of things they didn’t know they needed. What if in one of those bags, along with shampoo and diapers, there was financial protection for your family? An interesting thought.

Let us know what you think. Would you buy your life insurance from a big-box store—and why?