If there were official rankings for public knowledge of all the themed calendar dates in a year, Life Insurance Awareness Month would probably fall somewhere between National Bath Safety Month (January, in case you were wondering) and Pet Peeve Week (October).
This September marks the 10th anniversary of LIAM, yet, while the event is well known among industry insiders, it’s barely on the radar for a significant portion of the general population.
Brock Jolly, CFP, CLU, ChFC, CLTC, CASL, for one, would like to change that.
Last year, Jolly, an associate with Capitol Financial Advisors in the Washington, D.C., area, made use of the many LIAM-themed marketing resources available to producers and encouraged his clients to take a few minutes that September to think about their life insurance needs.
The payoff? An uptick in life insurance purchases and reviews, and a few conversations that revealed other needs, such as long-term care insurance. It’s no wonder, then, that Jolly’s preparing to launch the same push again this year.
“If you look at the statistics, it’s startling how underinsured we are in this nation,” he says. “It’s my mission to have that life insurance conversation with every person we touch.”
And that’s a lot of lives. Jolly has about 500 clients, mostly mass affluent families and professionals, that he assists with investments and insurance products as well as all the legal and tax implications that come with them. He specializes, in particular, in helping parents pay for their children’s college education.
“You’ve got a lot of parents concerned about the rising price of college tuition, and for most of them, life insurance is the last product they think of,” he says.
Jolly hosts a two-hour seminar for parents called “Little-Known Secrets of Paying for College” at local schools throughout the year. Some of the parents take the information and use it on their own; others enlist Jolly’s help and become clients. “College fundraising is what gets them in the door, but then we look at everything,” he says.
Jolly also works with business executives and small-business owners on retirement issues. He and some college friends traveled to Nepal and trekked to Syangboche near the base of Mount Everest last year, where he learned that “something like 70 percent of the deaths there occur on the way back down,” he says. The experience reminded him of retirement challenges and inspired him to create a “Retirement Mountain Adventure.” The program’s white papers and seminars help his clients navigate the distribution of the “mountain” of retirement assets they’ve accumulated.
Spreading the word
Whatever Jolly’s clients come in for, though, he’s sure to talk to them about life insurance.
“I’m a big believer in all types of insurance, but especially life insurance,” he says. “A customer could go their whole life without their house burning down or getting in a car accident. But you can’t go the rest of your life without dying.”
And Jolly has seen first-hand the benefits of a life insurance payout. He delivered his first death claim in July 2011 — for his own mom, paid out to his stepfather. “I’ve written a few hundred policies in my life and only one has paid out, and it just happened to be for one of the people I’m closest to in the world,” he says.
That’s why he’s made the celebration of Life Insurance Awareness Month such a priority at his firm. At the beginning of the month, armed with his email lists, Jolly sends out a message reminding his clients and contacts that LIAM has arrived.
“It just says, ‘Hey, Life Insurance Awareness Month starts today, and it’s just a good time for all of us to think about life insurance,’” he says. Jolly includes links to resources from the LIFE Foundation and different carriers and updates his website to feature some of the LIFE Foundation’s realLIFEstories.
For clients coming into the office, Jolly plays the realLIFEstories videos on a loop in the lobby. and hands out the LIFE Foundation’s booklet on life insurance. “It’s a much better piece to give them than the usual marketing propaganda from insurance companies,” he says.
And for non-clients, Jolly spreads the word about LIAM on his regular “Word on Wealth” segment on a local radio show.
The month comes at an ideal time in the business cycle for Jolly, who does 60 percent of his business between September and December. But that’s just an added benefit of raising awareness and better protecting clients in general, he says.
“It’s a good time to focus on our goals as an organization, but it’s also a good time to sit down with clients and make sure their needs are met,” he says.
Be like Brock
Marv Feldman, president and CEO of the LIFE Foundation, hopes more agents follow Jolly’s example this year.
The foundation is once again offering lots of client-focused resources for life insurance agents, including its popular realLIFEstories videos and printouts. New this year, the organization is also offering short, 30-second video versions of the stories, to compensate for Americans’ shrinking attention spans.
“It gets the message across in a 30-second sound bite versus a three-and-a-half-minute video,” Feldman says. “A lot of people won’t watch a video that’s several minutes long, but they’ll look at something like this.”
And former NFL quarterback Boomer Esiason has been enlisted as this year’s spokesperson to take full advantage of the fact that LIAM coincides with the start of football season.
Feldman says most of the LIFE Foundation’s campaign will be digital this year to enable better result-tracking. “We know we’ve had billions of media impressions over the years, but [with print campaigns] there’s been no way to track it,” he says.
After going digital with Disability Insurance Awareness Month earlier this year, though, the foundation was able to chart a 94-percent increase in awareness as a result of its efforts.
Yet, the full meaning of that achievement is still less than concrete.
“Does that mean they bought insurance?” Feldman says. “Can’t answer that. Does it mean they’re more aware? Absolutely.”
For Jolly, though, simply raising awareness — of a need for life insurance as well as his ability to help — is accomplishment enough.
“All I want to do is be the logical choice,” he says. “Whenever it’s time for somebody to make a decision about life insurance or whatever it is, I want them to call us.”
For more on Life Insurance Awareness Month, see: