2020 was a catalyst for this generation’s new attitude toward life insurance
by Lisa Greenwald
Ms. Greenwald is Chief Executive Officer of Greenwald Research, a leading independent custom research firm and consulting partner to the health and wealth industries. Please visit greenwaldresearch.com.A new study from Greenwald Research reveals Millennials are exploring their life insurance options amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Life drastically changed for Americans in 2020, with the global COVID-19 pandemic causing individuals and families to reevaluate personal and professional plans and think critically about their financial standing. Concerns for our own health and safety and for the well-being of family members and friends continue to affect countless aspects of daily life, but they’ve also fundamentally reshaped the way many people perceive risk. The virus is now a factor in financial security, and families are increasingly investigating protection options in the event of household wage earner premature death.
Businesses in the health and wealth space also anticipate more change as the country navigates a new normal. And with their relatively low sense of brand attachment compared to other generations and their affinity for digital-first product evaluation, Millennials are a particularly challenging group to target. To gauge current interest in a variety of product options and price levels, life insurance providers and financial services professionals must measure the pandemic’s influence on consumer attitudes and behaviors.
As an independent custom research firm, Greenwald Research is contributing to this effort with new data revealing the impact of shifting priorities on the financial decision-making of young Americans. Powered by response:AI and fielded in November and December of 2020, our Millennial Life Insurance Survey seeks to better understand Millennials’ evolving experiences with life insurance and financial security.
Changing Perspectives and Preferences
The Greenwald Research team surveyed a nationally representative sample of Millennial consumers ages 25 to 44, married or with dependent children and a household income of at least $50k, for input on overall work satisfaction and attitudes, research and buying behaviors, and product preferences related to life insurance.
One thousand respondents supplied quantitative data that allowed our researchers to examine how Millennials view their financial standing and need for life insurance. Findings position COVID-19 as a catalyst for the increased exploration of life insurance options among Millennials. The data also offers insurance providers and financial services professionals valuable information on what this segment of the population requires in terms of online and in-person products now and in the future.
Valuable Millennial Study Findings
A multifaceted study, Greenwald’s Millennial Life Insurance Survey covers a wide range of topics broadened by the interests of its sponsors. Our team interviewed participants on current life insurance coverage, perceived risk of premature death or disability, and experience with life-changing events in 2020, such as job loss, income reduction, and COVID-19 infection. Responses paint a picture of what financial and insurance planning might look like for Millennials over the next twelve months and share some of the perceived reasons for purchasing life insurance. The survey also gathered data on common Millennial information sources and preferred research and purchase methods, which further outline the attributes of life insurance policies and providers that matter most to this population.
Other recent research from our team has found a permanent effect from the pandemic on Americans’ perceptions of employment and retirement, and data from the Millennial Life Insurance Survey shows COVID-19 contributing to several significant trends in Millennials’ views of life insurance.
- About one-third of Millennials say COVID-19 is a driver to purchase life insurance—nearly as large as the birth of a child or marriage.
- Four in five Millennials agree that people like them need life insurance, although fewer than half have purchased a policy outside of the workplace.
- Millennials without a policy outside of work say they haven’t purchased one because it is too expensive or they don’t understand available products.
- Twenty-six percent of Millennials have set aside savings or created an emergency fund—the main financial change this group has made in response to COVID-19.
- Fifteen percent of Millennials have had to decrease the amount of money they place into their retirement plan.
- Less than half of Millennials have a clear understanding of how much life insurance coverage they require, with only 38% saying they’ve done the calculations. Most are open to seeking guidance from providers and online tools.
- 7 in 10 Millennials would prefer more variety in insurance and investment options from carriers, and a high percentage of them value both online and in-person policy shopping.
- Only 7% of Millennials say they would prefer to complete the entire purchase process online with no agent involvement.
Life Insurance Market Opportunities
At Greenwald Research, we believe the perspectives uncovered in the Millennial Life Insurance Survey suggest more Millennials are considering health and wealth options on a deeper level, and that this will create opportunities for insurers, agents, and financial advisors to meet consumers with solutions that fill gaps in modern needs. The survey also highlights the critical role of agents and advisors in Millennial life insurance purchases; although this generation tends to turn to digital sources for information during the consideration stage of the buyer’s journey, many responses indicate a preference for in-person support and demonstrate the value of professionals’ expertise.
The global COVID-19 pandemic has radically changed each generation’s outlook on both their physical and financial health and well-being—especially Millennials. Our findings are immensely valuable for insurance providers, as they aim to help millennials prepare for their future.
Health and wealth businesses will be better equipped to define success in their market when they’re able to implement lessons from 2020, compare changing landscapes, and respond to the needs of audiences—once they learn what this environment looks like. It will take time for researchers around the world to collect and make sense of the data as it becomes available, but we hope the team at Greenwald Research has given companies a head start.
With the Millennial Life Insurance Survey, industry professionals have fresh data at their disposal to use in adjusting their sales and marketing efforts for a new era. Findings may fuel the development of more effective consulting and education strategies and help optimize products and services to fit the way young Americans prefer to research, choose, and purchase life insurance.