Are A New Breed
When is the industry going to catch up to the new Elder Paradigm?
By Norse N. Blazzard and Judith A. Hasenauer
The insurance industry has become so wrapped up in its demographic models and the needs for retirement security the models uncover that it seems to have lost sight of something. This is the fact that todays seniors are not only living significantly longer than previous generations but also living significantly better. They are healthier, more active and more interested in what is happening in their world.
Most importantly, they are more interested in how to continue to support their active lifestyle after they have completed their normal working years.
The 2 of us began thinking about this after a conference of the National Association for Variable Annuities that included discussion about the elder segment of society. We began re-examining our own attitudes and perceptions of this segment and soon realized that our perceptions have changed along the lines indicated above.
If the life insurance industry were to adopt a similar view of eldersthat they are living better as well as longer–this just might cause a change in how the industrys products are perceived and used. Let us see how this might play out.
For decades, the life insurance industry has tried to sell the concept of “annuitization.” It has amassed volumes of statistics on the populations failure to put aside enough for retirement; on the horrible problems that baby boomers will face as they reach retirement age in the next 10-15 years; on increasing longevity; on the possible failure of the Social Security system; and on the potential ravages of inflation on retirement security.
Could it be that the industry has been telling the wrong story?
Elders are not ready for the rocking chair when they end their working careers. Instead, they are more interested in the continuation of an exciting, healthy lifestyle. They are more interested in skiing, traveling, dancing and playing golf than they are in sitting around waiting to die.
In fact, they do not even like to use the term “retirement,” since it connotes the idea of feebleness, dependence and lack of ability to function.
If you doubt that elders have a serious interest in the continuation of an active lifestyle, you need look no further than all the television ads for Viagra and similar remedies. These ads signal the recognition reached by pharmaceutical companies and their customers that it is important to continue enjoying an active lifestyle even as one ages.
The life insurance industry, on the other hand, has been emphasizing the negative elements of retirement instead of the positive side. In fact, the insurance story has been so negative that we believe the industry may have turned off the very people it has been trying to attractto use annuitization, for example.
What the industry needs to do is, in the words of the old song, “accentuate the positive and eliminate the negative.”