While Hispanic Heritage Month (Sept. 15- Oct. 15) is an important time to celebrate Hispanic culture across the country, September is also Life Insurance Awareness Month, said Steve Wood, senior research analyst, Market Research, LIMRA, and is an important time for financial professionals to increase their level of engagement with Hispanic Americans and provide them with the financial services they need to build and protect their wealth.
Wood is one of the authors of the 2022 Insurance Barometer Study, and the Hispanic Americans: Life Insurance Ownership and Attitudes report.
According to the 2022 Insurance Barometer Study conducted by LIMRA and Life Happens, ownership among Hispanic Americans is well below the U.S. average (42% versus 50%), and has declined 12 points in the past 11 years. Given a population of 43.4 million Hispanic adults, the data suggest an insured population of 18.2 million Hispanic Americans.
This year’s Barometer Study included a focus on the Hispanic American community. The COVID-19 pandemic negatively affected Hispanic Americans more significantly than was seen with other races and ethnicities. Not only were health outcomes poorer, but job losses were greater, as well. “These factors may be the cause of Hispanic Americans’ life insurance ownership rates declining over the last few years,” Wood said.
“At the same time, our data show that about half of Hispanic American adults (51%) express a need for life insurance; yet, not everyone is able to protect their families financially as much as they would like,” added Wood. The 2022 Barometer reports that of a list of 15 “financial concerns,” Hispanic Americans have a higher level of concern than the general population regarding all 15.
“It is incumbent upon the industry and financial professionals to provide the tools and information needed in order for families to purchase the right products for themselves and their families.” — Steve Wood, senior research analyst, Market Research, LIMRA
“It is incumbent upon the industry and financial professionals to provide the tools and information needed in order for families to purchase the right products for themselves and their families,” Wood said.
According to Regina Bedoya, a 29-year MDRT member and president of RB Financial Advisors, the Hispanic American community across the United States has grown significantly in the last 20+ years, both in earning power and societal economic impact. Many Hispanic business owners and professionals are achieving the American dream; yet, they still face similar financial challenges as other ethnic groups.
As their financial standing improves, they need to acquire insurance products that will protect them and their loved ones against the unexpected, invest their assets to prepare for their children's education or their own retirement and ultimately embrace financial strategies that will help them achieve their goals, she added.
There is a strong emphasis on family unity in the Hispanic community, Bedoya said. As such, an introduction from a family member or a close family friend is the ideal way to meet new clients.
“Once it is established that the work we do can help them achieve their personal financial goals, the word gets out among their inner circles. It is up to us to earn their trust by delivering on our promises in a professional and competent manner. This gives us the right to ask for referrals and grow our practices through these referrals,” she said.
While speaking Spanish is not a requirement, any effort an agent can show in communicating with them in their native language will be a benefit, Bedoya said. “While most affluent Hispanic business owners and professionals speak English, I have found that speaking their native language takes the relationship to a friendlier level, making it easier to bond with them.”
The other strategy that helps is understanding them as best as we can, Bedoya added. Knowing how they started, the challenges they’ve faced, what success means to them now, and what goals they’re aiming to reach, will go a long way.
Finally, it is important to avoid painting all Hispanics with the same brush, Bedoya said.
“While the language might be a common thread among all Hispanics, just like in our countries, there are a diversity of cultures, backgrounds and interests among them,” she said, adding, “even Hispanics who share the same country of origin can be quite different, and it is our job to get to know them and not generalize or make erroneous assumptions.”
Wood echoes this sentiment. As he pointed out, Hispanic Americans encompass a wide range of races and cultures.
“Reaching prospective new clients requires more than having a few Spanish-language materials or bilingual agents. Building trust is very important ― almost half of surveyed Hispanic Americans (48%) cited distrust of insurance professionals as a reason they have not bought any (or more) life insurance,” he said.
Life insurance can be daunting for anyone. When preliminary discussions focus around retirement savings and protecting dependents, it may help to softly introduce how life insurance can be part of long-term financial planning, added Wood.
In addition, Wood said, Hispanic Americans have a younger median age than most other races and ethnic groups. This may be part of the reason more Hispanic Americans look to social media as a source of financial information, especially newer platforms like TikTok and Instagram, as well as the more traditional ones like YouTube and Facebook. “With a relatively large, older Gen Z/younger millennial population, new platforms and ‘softer’ education and outreach tactics may help,” Wood said.
A few ‘best practices’
While conducting an individual meeting or engaging a group, insurance professionals are encouraged to keep the following “best practices” in mind, according to Life Happens:
Empathy: Changing a client’s or prospect’s longstanding beliefs about life insurance will take time. Seek to understand the origins of their beliefs.
Inclusivity: A client’s or prospect’s beliefs about life insurance are likely shared. Include family members and other thought partners in discussions.
Audience: Think broadly when brainstorming audiences to talk about some of the myths commonly associated with life insurance. In addition to existing clients, prospects and centers of influence, Life Happens advises financial professionals to consider several affinity groups, including houses of worship, investment and book clubs, alumni associations, professional associations, and volunteer service organizations.
Ayo Mseka has more than 30 years of experience reporting on the financial services industry. She formerly served as editor-in-chief of NAIFA’s Advisor Today magazine. Contact her at [email protected].