With the U.S. economy still in recovery, life insurance agents and brokers are looking for ways to maximize their earning potential with new sources of revenue. One way for savvy agents to increase success during these difficult times is by reaching out to the U.S. Hispanic market.
This powerful group makes up 16.3 percent of the total U.S. population and represents a combined purchasing power of $1 trillion. In fact, Hispanics are projected to constitute 30 percent of the American population by 2050, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Yet, this demographic is traditionally underserved in the insurance marketplace, with 37 percent of Hispanics admitting they do not have enough insurance to protect themselves or their families.
The Hispanic market represents an opportunity for agents to permanently expand their customer bases. These consumers are in need of smart, personalized counsel about their insurance options and are eager to find customized life insurance solutions. Agents who take time to focus on cultural understanding, building trust and forming mutually beneficial relationships will ultimately enhance their sales within this lucrative market.
A recent LIMRA study found that most U.S. Hispanics are aware of some basic benefits of life insurance. For example, 87 percent said they need life insurance to cover burial and final expenses. Yet in the same study, 64 percent of Hispanics said they did not have life insurance because they thought it was too expensive, even though a basic policy averages about 42 cents a day. Without life insurance, Hispanic families are at risk for unanticipated financial challenges resulting from the death of a breadwinner.
Other research shows Hispanic workers feel vulnerable about their financial situations. Forty-three percent of those surveyed as part of the 2012 Aflac WorkForces Report said they are not confident about their ability to cope with the financial impact of an unexpected event. Further, just 8 percent were extremely confident and 15 percent very confident about their financial futures. Just 20 percent even somewhat agreed that their goals and dreams are financially protected.
All of these findings point to a lack of understanding within the Hispanic community about the affordability and long-term benefits of life insurance. This gives agents and brokers an opening to tackle misconceptions and leverage inherent receptiveness to the need for this kind of coverage. Making the most of those opportunities requires sellers to make an effort to understand the cultural imperatives that will enable them to establish trust with potential clients.
Se habla español
To serve the Hispanic market, it helps to know the language. According to the U.S. Census, nearly 45 percent of Spanish speakers in the United States have limited English skills, making communication in Spanish critical. Agents who place a priority on honing basic Spanish language skills will be better prepared to reach out to Hispanic customers and effectively communicate life insurance benefits.
For agents and brokers who don’t speak Spanish, Spanish versions of sales materials, such as brochures and policy quotes, can help bridge the communication gap. The goal should be to make the life insurance purchasing experience as easy as possible for clients. Agents and brokers may even want to consider investing in the future of their businesses by taking basic Spanish language courses. By having some Spanish-speaking ability, agents demonstrate interest in the Hispanic culture. In fact, some agents have found that merely learning to greet consumers in Spanish is helpful because it breaks the ice and makes potential customers more comfortable.
Connect life insurance and family
It’s equally important for agents and brokers to possess an understanding of Hispanic culture. Agents who are educated about the protection a policy can provide to an extended family may be more likely to convince Hispanics to consider life insurance solutions. This is because many Hispanics have large, close-knit families and feel a strong sense of responsibility to all members, which includes ensuring their financial wellbeing. Agents can benefit from communications featuring specific cases studies or examples that explain how families as a whole can be financially protected by life insurance.
Agents and brokers should emphasize that life insurance can provide families with funds to cover burial expenses, pay off mortgages and fund college educations. Clients are more likely to respond to real-life cases highlighting how life insurance can help family members avoid financial catastrophe after the death of a loved one, as well as help them prosper over the long-term.
Build personal relationships
Statistics indicate that many Hispanics have not purchased life insurance because of the way it’s been presented. Consider that 45 percent of Hispanics said they do not trust insurance agents, compared to just 36 percent of the general population surveyed by LIMRA. This indicates that establishing personal relationships is the key to success in the Hispanic market.
To begin building trust and connecting with Hispanic clients, it pays to become part of the fabric of the community. Agents can introduce themselves and begin to establish rapport by participating in local Hispanic business and cultural events. Face-to-face interactions and the relationships that grow from them are crucial to gaining entry into the Hispanic market.
Once relationships have been established, agents can then focus on becoming trusted advisors to clients. By using tailored materials that speak directly to individual situations, they can recommend customized policies that best suit individual families’ needs.
These days, financial protection is a necessity for everyone. Given the current low level of life insurance ownership among U.S. Hispanics, there is significant opportunity for agents not only to maximize earnings, but also to help an increasing percentage of the American workforce protect themselves and their families from the threat of financial disaster. However, agents must do their homework when it comes to reaching the Hispanic market. By putting in the work to learn how to best serve the Hispanic market today, agents can better position themselves for success tomorrow.