Canadians prefer to buy in-person

Of the Canadian households that prefer to purchase through non-face-to-face methods, the Internet was the most popular. Of the Canadian households that prefer to purchase through non-face-to-face methods, the Internet was the most popular.

A little more than three-quarters (76 percent) of Canadians favor purchasing life insurance in a face-to-face meeting with an agent over buying from work, the Internet, or by direct mail or phone, according to new research.

Research firm LIMRA discloses this finding in its “2013 Canadian Life Insurance Ownership Study,” which monitors long-term patterns in life insurance ownership, adequacy of coverage, and consumers’ attitudes about life insurance. The study surveyed more than 3,200 Canadian household financial decision makers.

“Our research found that six million Canadians believe they need more life insurance and three-quarters of those we surveyed would prefer to buy it face-to-face,” says LIMRA Senior Research Director Cheryl Retzloff. “These findings should suggest a high potential for increased sales. When we asked what keeps consumers from buying life insurance, the top two reasons given were: low priority and a perception that it’s not affordable.” 

Of the 25 percent of Canadian households that prefer to purchase through non-face-to-face methods, the Internet was the most popular (11 percent), followed closely by workplace and direct by phone or mail. By comparison, in the United States 43 percent say they prefer to buy through the Internet or direct. (See chart)

While Canadian consumers may prefer personal contact, LIMRA’s Canadian Recruiting Trends data show that 14 percent fewer sales professionals were recruited in 2012 compared to five years earlier (13,500 versus 15,600). This combination of fewer agents and slow adoption of non-face-to-face purchasing “creates a real challenge for Canadian insurance companies,” LIMRA reports. Among the other key findings from the report: 

  • Only 68 percent of Canadian households have any life insurance at all compared to 79 percent in 2006. 
  • Among those polled, the top financial concern is the government’s ability to fund health care in which 84 percent answered “very” or “somewhat concerned.”
  • Some 80 percent of Canadians worry about having enough money for retirement. The same percentage also expresses concern over the cost and availability of long term care. 
  • Married households with children under age 18 are underinsured: three in four say they would have difficulty with living expenses if a primary wage earner were to die.
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