life insurance

How Millennials Are Changing the Life Insurance Game

More than any other age group, millennials are feeling the need for life insurance due to COVID-19, and the way they’re shopping for it is a little different than in years past.

There’s nothing more impactful than the loss of someone close to you to shine a light on the need for life insurance. And this past year, most of us have experienced some sense of loss, collectively if not personally, through the grief and suffering brought on by the global pandemic. Many of us who never before spent time thinking about or planning for our own death, or that of a loved one, likely found ourselves confronting this subject over the past year.

The shift has been particularly significant among millennials, who now range from age 22 to 40, as they begin to plan for the next stage of their lives. One recent study found that millennials are the most likely to be influenced by the pandemic to purchase life insurance. Forty-five percent of millennials said they are more likely to buy life insurance due to COVID-19, compared with 15% of baby boomers and 31% of Gen Xers.

And just as millennials have redefined everything from appropriate workplace attire to car-buying options, they’re reshaping the life insurance market as well. This digital-savvy group prefers online research and information that they supplement with financial advice from a human professional to make sure they’re on the right track.

Here are several ways the life insurance market has adapted in recent years and some navigating tips for millennials considering their options:

Fact: Fewer employers are offering life insurance as a benefit.

About 56% of Americans who work for private companies have access to life insurance through their employer. The number of employers offering such benefits, largely through group plans, has been in steady decline in the last decade. The result? More than 50% of those who have life insurance purchased it individually.

Your move, millennials: If your employer does offer life insurance, it’s worth reviewing the coverage options. You may find the value you need for your circumstances. You may also discover that you need to purchase additional coverage on your own. Many employer life insurance plans offer very basic coverage, and the policy may not be portable if you part ways with your employer. That’s an important factor for millennials, who tend to have higher rates of job changes.

Trend alert: The process continues to get faster and easier …

Millennials are comfortable researching and buying nearly everything from groceries to cars online. Life insurers and agents were already making enhancements to digital tools to make it easier for consumers to research and purchase life insurance online, but the pandemic accelerated those improvements. It’s now easier than ever to gather quotes from multiple insurers, research potential providers, and even go through the application and delivery process entirely online.

In addition, physicals for many policies are optional (but you might still want one). A growing number of insurers have ditched the physical examination requirement in recent years, meaning you can purchase a life insurance policy without a medical exam or blood tests. Exam-free policies typically have faster underwriting times than traditional policies, and they offer the convenience of avoiding an additional appointment. But they’re not the right choice for everyone. Exam-free policies, for example, typically cost more than those that include a physical, and coverage may be capped at $500,000.

Your move, millennials: Given the ease with which you can research and purchase insurance, you now have a marketplace of tools and options at your disposal. The sooner you get started the better, since prices only go up as you get older.

Good news: You can have it your way!

Millennial consumers love customization. With so much information readily available, there is quite a bit you can do on your own if you choose to. And when you are ready and have questions or want a more guided experience, there is a financial professional who will be able to help. Whether by phone, by video, online or the good old-fashioned face-to-face meeting, a financial professional is always a great stop on this journey to be sure you have considered your needs and options. There are nuances to the features and benefits of life insurance, and an experienced professional can help you sort it all out. Among millennials who purchased life insurance in the pandemic, more than half used a live adviser, and 30% used both a live adviser and online elements in their purchase, according to Boston Consulting Group.

In addition to helping provide financial security for your loved ones in case you pass away, many life insurance policies now also offer optional riders (sometimes at additional cost) that can help address other concerns, like chronic illness or longevity risk.

Your move, millennials: Choose the method that works best for you. That may be an online-only purchase, using a live adviser, or some combination of the two. If you’re not sure where to turn for help, your employer may provide access to an adviser. It is also likely that friends or family members may have a referral for you. This is one of the most common ways advisers acquire new clients. Finally, many states have registration requirements and often have online directories of licensed financial professionals. Without a referral from someone you trust, it is a good rule of thumb to select two to three people to interview so that you can find the best person for you.

As millennials become more likely to purchase life insurance, insurers have evolved their offerings to create new products and innovations to meet their needs. That’s great news for first-time applicants who may find a much more painless process than expected.

Life insurance is issued by The Prudential Insurance Company of America, Newark, NJ, and its affiliates. 1050737-00001-00

About the Author

Salene Hitchcock-Gear, President of Prudential Individual Life Insurance

President of Prudential Individual Life Insurance, Prudential Financial

Salene Hitchcock-Gear is president of Prudential Individual Life Insurance. She represents Prudential as a director on the Women Presidents’ Organization Advisory Board and also serves on the board of trustees of the American College of Financial Services. In addition, Hitchcock-Gear has a bachelor’s degree from the University of Michigan, a Juris Doctor degree from New York University School of Law, as well as FINRA Series 7 and 24 securities licenses. She is a member of the New York State Bar Association.

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