The benefits of life insurance can be immense. A life insurance payout after a loved one’s death can be crucial, and, for a healthy 30-year-old woman, term policies can be had at roughly the same monthly price as a premium Netflix subscription. If you have people in your life who depend on you financially, it’s worth it to take a quick medical exam in order to get a policy, right?
Well, not so fast. It turns out that American adults overwhelmingly think of the process of signing up for life insurance as inconvenient and intimidating.
Nearly a quarter of the 1,800 adults that CivicScience polled in early May said they thought questions about life insurance did not apply to them. That non-answer was particularly popular among the youngest (25 and under) and oldest (55 and older) generations. Among those that did respond decisively, a vast majority found the life insurance process to be intimidating and/or inconvenient:
Of the respondents who answered both questions, those who said the process is “inconvenient” were far more likely to say that it’s “intimidating” as well, and vice-versa.
According to the study, nearly two-thirds of American adults already have life insurance, either through an employer or purchased separately:
For the 9% of American adults who are in the market for life insurance policies, the perceived inconvenience of the signup process aligns with the national average. Intimidation, though, is another matter:
Those who are interested in buying a policy were a full 33% more likely to say the signup process intimidated them than those who already had one, and 20% more likely to say so than those who aren’t interested.
Of course, one of the factors that comes into play when buying life insurance is one’s physical health level. In the CivicScience study, a person’s judgment of their own health level played a role in their likelihood to say the process is intimidating. People who said they are “somewhat unhealthy” or “not very healthy” were 18% more likely to find the process to be intimidating than those who said they are “very healthy” or “pretty healthy.” However, the “unhealthy” group was only 5% likelier than the “healthy” group to say the process is inconvenient.
What else could be causing the intimidation? Though not causation, the study found a correlation with cannabis use. Those who are intimidated by the life insurance application process are three times more likely to use cannabis at a daily cadence than those who aren’t intimidated.
Across the board, those who have or want to have life insurance consume cannabis at similar rates. Many insurance companies will grant policies to upfront cannabis users, so maybe this messaging should be made clear, when applicable, as cannabis use is becoming more accepted nationally through legalization. Especially since the study shows that those who are not interested in life insurance are more likely to be cannabis users.
In terms of age, Gen X was the generation most likely to say the process of signing up for life insurance is at least somewhat inconvenient (63%) and at least somewhat intimidating (61%).
Interestingly, though, Gen Z had the largest portion of respondents saying they “strongly agree” that the process is intimidating, outmatching Gen X’s corresponding segment by 23%. Perhaps this wariness is due to the younger group having an unfamiliarity with life insurance in general.
It appears Millennials were less intimidated by the process than Gens X and Z. In terms of intimidation, Millennials were more in line with Baby Boomers (54% and 51% intimidated, respectively).
There was no substantial difference between men and women when it came to the “inconvenience” factor. However, women (75%) were a bit more likely than men (70%) to say they thought the process was intimidating.
Overall, insurers might do well to frame the conversation around life insurance in such a way that consumers see the benefits of life insurance outweighing their worries and fears about the sign-up process, giving applicants easier options for their exams or providing content about what to expect. And of course, insurers should let those who use cannabis know it’s not always a deal-breaker in the application process.