New Association Targets Agents, Insurers Interested In Hispanic Market

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With the Hispanic community the fastest growing segment of the U.S. population–estimated at 38.9 million–its no surprise that many insurance carriers are trying to figure out ways to tap into this market. Efforts thus far, however, have come up short, according to J.D. Moya, president of Pegasus Financial Group, Albuquerque, N.M.

“Theres a tremendous need for the life insurance industry to get a better understanding of the Hispanic market,” he says.

This need inspired Moya to start a new association for both insurance professionals and carriers that either cater specifically to the Hispanic market or desire to do so. The International Association of Hispanic Insurance Professionals officially opened its doors April 24, 2003.

“The driving force for IAHIP was to give the insurance industry a voice from the Hispanic community, from Hispanic insurance professionals or from those dealing in the Hispanic community,” explains Moya, president of the association.

Individual membership in the association currently is estimated to be in the neighborhood of 200, according to Mike Conley, who is president of Global Financial Technologies, Fairview Heights, Ill., and is serving as treasurer of IAHIP. The five-year goal for the association is to grow to 25,000 individual members, he says.

Despite its name, the association is welcoming members from all ethnic backgrounds, Moya says.

“Were not just looking for Hispanic agents,” he continues. “Anyone wanting to work in the Hispanic community–in order for them to be successful in this community they have to understand it.”

Agents who desire to expand their business into this market segment will gain insight about the characteristics of the community, he says.

Manuel Ramos, a new member to the association, agrees. He recommends that “anybody who would like to understand more about the Hispanic market” is a good candidate for joining the association. Ramos is an investment advisor with Providing Solid Protection, Downey, Calif.

There are a number of benefits IAHIP promises to deliver to its individual members, including a quarterly newsletter describing whats going on in the Hispanic community, market research, and regional sales and marketing seminars.

At the seminars “top producers in the Hispanic community will be sharing with members their ideas that are actually working,” says Moya.

This is the key benefit members will realize when joining the IAHIP, adds Ramos. “To belong to the first Hispanic association of insurance agents in the United States allows me the opportunity to learn from and get to know other Hispanic financial professionals in the industry who are successful,” he says.

In addition to helping agents, another objective of the association is to help member carriers better meet the needs of this market.

Statistically, Moya explains, the Hispanic community is expanding in a number of different areas: Their income is growing, their spending is increasing and their sheer numbers are swelling. But one area where the Hispanic community is lagging behind the rest of the population is in the number of life insurance policies purchased. Moya attributes this to insurance carriers failure to effectively penetrate the market.

“Theyre not talking to them [the Hispanic community] the way they should,” Moya explains. “If you look at the materials from the majority of companies, its sadly lacking–its just a simple translation of the non-Hispanic brochures that they already have, and sometimes those translations are not very good.”

Conley agrees. “The companies need a lot of help. Their way of approaching it is to essentially take someone who speaks Spanish and tell them to translate all of the sales materials into Spanish,” he says. “That really isnt a good way of doing it.”

Part of the problem carriers have had with marketing to this segment is their failure to do thorough market research on the Hispanic community, adds Armida Gonzales, president of Innovest Financial & Insurance Services, San Diego, Calif.

“The Hispanic market is like any other market–you survey what is needed and wanted by the people. Companies need to find out exactly what makes the Hispanic market tick,” says Gonzales, who is also serving as vice president of the IAHIP. “They need to do proper marketing.”

Moya hopes that by working with the IAHIP, these companies will do a better job of communicating with the Hispanic market and developing products that meet its needs.

The IAHIP is seeking to build 15 sponsor relationships with carriers who are making a commitment to the Hispanic market. Through a charter company membership, the association will work closely with carriers to help with their marketing efforts.

Recently, CNA Life announced its commitment to the IAHIP. “We are pleased to be a partner at the beginning of what promises to be a valuable and much-needed resource for one of the fastest growing and most underserved population segments,” says Tony Wilkey, senior marketing officer for CNA Life, in a press release announcing its sponsorship.

While CNA Life is the only company that has committed to the association as of press time, Moya says the IAHIP is in discussions with several other companies.


Reproduced from National Underwriter Edition, June 9, 2003. Copyright 2003 by The National Underwriter Company in the serial publication. All rights reserved. Copyright in this article as an independent work may be held by the author.