Before Michael Keller joined Farmers New World Life, Mercer Island, Wash., he was “all about trying to move up from the middle market.”
The vice president of life marketing for Farmers used to perceive the middle market, with an annual income between $35,000 and $100,000, as “down market, but it really is not,” he said at LIMRA Internationals 2003 annual conference here.
“Its huge. There are 60 million households out there, mostly underinsured,” he said. Not only is the market huge, but it buys life insurance. Keller should know. Life sales at Farmers have been up over the previous year for the past two years.
Keller suggested that those in the industry who insist that life insurance is a product thats sold and not bought are short-sighted. Farmers has done surveys and spoken with focus groups about their perceptions of the product and their willingness to buy.
The company learned that the middle market segment wants to buy life insurance, it just doesnt know how. They research it on the Internet, they ask friends and family about it, but they are not approached by producers who want to sell to them, Keller said.
Agents largely ignore this segment, and consumers dont approach agents because they are afraid they cant afford what agents have to sell, he said.
“If you capture them early, they are loyal,” Keller said. “They are not shoppers and they are not bombarded with offers from other companies. All they want you to do is pay attention to them; you dont have to do a lot to keep them.”
When approaching this segment, certain things should be kept in mind, he said. One is that trigger events that cause people to consider buying life insurance are different for “todays generation” than the traditional triggers.
Keller defines todays generation as people in their mid-20s to early 40s.