Why life insurance agents need a strong social media presence

Customers across the US seek advice about insurance on social media and expect to be able to compare their options on the internet before even meeting an agent.
16 April 2018

Insurance investments need a mix of technology, social media, and human interaction. Source: Shutterstock

When you want to discuss insurance, who do you go to? An agent in a store you’ve never been to? Talk to a chatbot on a website you don’t know much about? Or just get in touch with someone you trust, who has recently made a similar investment – even if it means discussing your financial situation on social media?

Usually, it’s the third — according to latest insights from LIMRA.

According to the finding of their study in association with Life Happens, a non-profit educational organization, when it comes to purchasing life insurance, consumers are engaging online and through social media platforms as a way to evaluate financial products and financial professionals.

Titled the Insurance Barometer Study, it tracks consumer understanding and preferences when it comes to life insurance ownership, and uncovers common purchase barriers, and misconceptions.

The report has found that consumers often ask social media contacts for recommendations on a variety of products and services, including financial services — thus making it important for life insurance agents to establish their presence on social media platforms.

Social media sites have become a common source for reviews and recommendations, as consumers seek peer-approved products and professionals.

The study found more than a third of Americans (34 percent) — and more than half of millennials—are likely to ask for recommendations for an insurance agent or financial advisor on social media.

Vetting Professionals on Social Media
In addition to using social media as a way to source recommendations, consumers are also using these platforms to evaluate an insurance or financial professional they would like to work with.

More than half of millennials (54 percent) and 44 percent of Gen Xers are likely to check an agent’s or advisor’s social-media presence on sites such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn—a clear signal that a social media presence is quickly becoming a ‘must-have’, just like a website or email address.

Consumers use social media platforms to get a complete picture of an advisor to determine if they are a good source of information and a good fit personally.

“This year’s study reinforces the increasingly important role that social media has on an advisor’s marketing efforts. Advisors and agents must ensure their profiles are regularly updated and provide consumers with quality content and information,” said Marvin Feldman, CLU, ChFC, RFC, President and CEO of Life Happens.

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Online activity in the life insurance purchasing process
Beyond leveraging social media, 87 percent of consumers indicated that during the purchase process they would use the internet to research life insurance, regardless of how they purchase their policy.

In their research, consumers visit the websites of life insurance companies and seek educational information online.

Almost half of the respondents that had sought life insurance information or attempted to purchase life insurance online said they also used insurance comparison/quoting sites as part of the research process.

In fact, according to Venture Scanner, the insurance comparison/marketplace is the largest insurance technology category with 420 companies.

Sixty-seven percent of millennials use comparison/quoting websites as part of the life insurance purchase process, compared with 45 percent of Gen X and 28 percent of Boomers.

As consumers are increasingly interested in using professionals’ websites to educate themselves, it is critical for advisors and agents to keep these sites refreshed and current. Two-thirds of consumers would not do business with an advisor who has an out-of-date site.

The importance of the personal touch
While online resources are increasingly important to consumers, the majority still want personal contact with a professional when buying life insurance. Millennials are most likely to want to meet with a financial professional before purchasing life insurance (73 percent), compared with Gen X (64 percent) and Boomers (69 percent).

“This year’s study paints a clear picture of what consumers expect from the life insurance industry today. Financial professionals need to provide consumers with a more seamless experience, blending online resources, social platforms, with in-person consultations,” said James Scanlon, director, LIMRA Market Research.

Consumers want to take advantage of both personal networks and professional help, online research and in-person guidance. Agents and advisors must present an “always on” persona as consumers utilize a multi-channel approach to purchasing insurance.