From the April 2007 issue of Investment Advisor • Subscribe!

Keep Them Satisfied

If insurance is important to your financial plans, you need to understand the demographics

You know that clients' feelings about money can have a dramatic effect on the financial plans you craft so carefully for them. Their attitudes on insurance providers can also play a role. Whether you handle their insurance needs yourself or work with another provider, it could pay to have some insight into which clients might be prone to coverage gaps, and why. The kind of effort you devote to this undertaking can enhance your whole practice.

A recent survey by Forrester Research, the North American Consumer Technology Adoption Study Q3 2006 Survey, and a February report based on the study's results offer a look at the satisfaction of consumers with their insurance providers, among other financial entities. The report, authored by Bruce Temkin of Forrester, looks at the demographics of those who have relationships with insurance providers. The report, Do Financial Institutions Meet Customer Needs?, looked at the figures for seniors (born in 1941 or earlier), older boomers (1942-1953), younger boomers (1954-1965), Gen Xers (1966--1977), and Gen Yers (1978 and later), and at male and female respondents within all of those groups.

Sixty-seven percent of those surveyed had relationships with a life insurance provider, while 88% did with home and auto insurance providers, because home and auto insurance are "typically mandatory; by either the state or by the providers of the mortgages or loans," notes Temkin.

While only 68% of respondents were satisfied with their home and auto insurance providers, satisfaction with life insurance providers was lower still: 56%. Boomers were particularly unhappy with their life insurance providers.

Asked why, Temkin replied that, while there was no analysis to support it, "home and auto insurance have become pretty straightforward product offerings." They can be a lot easier to understand and to get. Not only that, but insurers have "worked hard to improve the claims process, which is a key driver of customer satisfaction."

Life insurance, on the other hand, offers products that "can be very complicated." Says Temkin, "I think it's more difficult for consumers to fully understand what they're buying with life insurance, so it's harder for them to be completely satisfied with their life insurance provider."

With nearly half of all boomers dissatisfied with their insurance companies, one way to help clients and render a higher level of service at the same time is to find them a company, and/or agent, who better satisfies their needs. To do that, of course, you'll need to understand just how insurers fail to meet their expectations. Asking the right questions, and fully understanding the answers, can deepen your relationships with clients even as it helps you to better seek out the right company and coverage.

Life insurance shouldn't be your only target in this quest to improve your client's coverage. With so many new issues on the horizon regarding home coverage, ranging from unexpected liability issues to the availability of any coverage at all in coastal states, your opportunity to meet your clients' concerns head-on and satisfy them can cast a broader net. By the time you're done, your clients should be happier, and your business will be more secure.

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