The Pulse

Perceptions About Life Insurance Ownership Around the World

1 in 3 consumers say their families would face financial hardships within a month if the primary wage earner died

New LIMRA study shows how the primary reasons for owning life insurance vary significantly by country.

All over the world, consumers rely on life insurance to protect their families and provide financial security. As we highlight the importance of life insurance as we wrap up Life Insurance Awareness Month (LIAM) in the United States, here’s a look at how consumers around the globe think about life insurance.

Compared to the U.S., consumers in the Asia Pacific region are far more likely to have life insurance coverage. According to a recent LIMRA study, three quarters of surveyed consumers in Hong Kong, India, Singapore, Taiwan and 7 in 10 consumers in China and Thailand say they own life insurance. However, the proportion of people who own life insurance falls below the percentage who believe they need life insurance.

The study finds the primary reason for owning life insurance varies by country. For example, in South Korea, China, France and India the top reason for owning life insurance is to supplement their retirement income, whereas in Hong Kong, Japan, Malaysia, Singapore, Taiwan and Thailand, consumers are far more concerned about replacing the income of a wage earner. In the U.S. and Brazil, consumers say they are most interested in using the benefit for final expenses and burial costs.

“Life insurance provides an important safety net for families. Our research shows consumers purchase life insurance to address a variety of financial priorities,” said Kristen Gillis, research analyst, LIMRA research. “Unfortunately, many people have not bought the coverage they say they need, leaving their families vulnerable in the event the primary wage earner dies.”

The study finds at least 1 in 3 consumers surveyed in six markets (Brazil, France Malaysia, Thailand, the UK, and the U.S.) say their families would face financial hardship within a month if the primary wage earner dies. In contrast, just 9% of consumers in China and 13% of consumers in India report the same concern.

COVID-19 and efforts to socially distance have changed how we interact with each other. While most people say they prefer to buy life insurance face-to-face with an advisor, more than half of consumers in all markets, except for France, feel online sales of life insurance will increase by some extent within the next five years. Today, a strong majority of consumers across all markets said they use the internet to do research about life insurance, and 3 in 10 consumers in France, Japan, South Korea, the UK and the U.S. say they would research and buy life insurance online.

This 17th annual Life Insurance Awareness Month campaign is a great opportunity for our industry to continue to find innovative and creative ways to engage and remind consumers about the importance role life insurance plays in a family’s financial security.