By Edgar Hernandez
CUNA Mutual Group
September marks Life Insurance Awareness Month, and it’s a good time for credit unions to take stock of their life insurance programs and ensure members understand the importance of this critical protection.
If we agree that life insurance is key to financial security, then this month must also be a time to ask ourselves – who are we serving with this crucial protection, who are we not and why?
According to data from our research partners at The Collage Group, 55% percent of African Americans and 54% of white Americans own life insurance, compared to 44% of Asians and only 29% of Hispanics.
Sept. 15 also marked the start of Hispanic Heritage Month. As we recognize the importance of life insurance, it’s also an opportunity to examine the disparity that exists in our community. Why are we reaching fewer families in this population with this crucial product, and what can we do to change that?
- Cost: For starters, 54% of Hispanics believe life insurance is too expensive. When a panel of more than 500 consumers were asked to estimate the price of a 20-year, $250,000 term policy for a 30-year-old non-smoker, all racial groups over-estimated the actual annual premium of $157. Hispanics expected it to cost $403, more than twice as much as it actually does!
Here’s what you can do: This data tells us we have an opportunity to educate on the affordability of life insurance – be sure to provide education to your membership and particularly your Hispanic community.
- Cynicism: We also see myths and potential cynicism around the product itself within the Hispanic community. Many cited a feeling of tempting fate with a protection like life insurance – the very idea that having a product related to one’s own death is negative. This misconception is real, especially among recent immigrants or older Latinos, but the myth is getting challenged by their children or grandchildren that have come to learn that life insurance is a “must have.” For example, our internal data recently showed that our Latino and Black consumers, in spite of stats showing they are more likely to see a wage reduction or lose their job during this pandemic, were also less likely to let their life insurance lapse than White consumers.
Here’s what you can do: Be prepared to address different concerns or biases about life insurance, and perhaps share stories or testimonies as to how having this protection made other Hispanic families feel more secure. Create educational materials in English and Spanish explaining the differences between AD&D, term and whole life.
- Lack of a multicultural lens: If we don’t look at data with a multicultural lens, we’ll miss these insights or disparities to begin with. We must see the uniqueness of different communities to better serve more diverse populations and fill gaps in service.
Here’s what you can do: Look at your own membership, and the broader community you serve and ask yourself:
- What disparities exist within coverage rates?
- What percentage of your Hispanic members own a life insurance policy?
- How do you have conversations about the importance of life insurance with Latino/a members?
- Do you have bilingual staff that can create links of trust with consumers by leaning on their common heritage?
There are many resources available – you can make use of the National Equity Atlas or the Brookings Institute to get a glimpse of your community’s demographics. And, if your CU wants guidance on how to assess your membership and the possible products that might be suitable for the Hispanic market, you can reach out to us here at CUNA Mutual Group’s Multicultural Center of Expertise. We’d be happy to share some data and/or put you in touch with some experts in this space. You can also learn more about life insurance on our website at https://www.trustage.com/.
Edgar Hernandez is senior multicultural strategy manager in CUNA Mutual Groups Multicultural Center of Expertise.