Life insurers are doing a poor job of reaching black and Hispanic consumers.[@@]

Researchers from the Polling Company Inc., Washington, have published data supporting that conclusion in a report on a survey of minority consumers.

The researchers found that 92% of African-Americans said they believe that life insurance is essential, but 24% said they had no experience with life insurance agents. Only 39% of the African-American consumers said they owned life insurance.

Although 40% of the Hispanic survey participants said they owned life insurance and 82% said life insurance is essential, 50% said they had no past experience with life insurance agents, according to The Polling Company.

The Polling Company did not disclose any ties to insurance companies, but the company noted that it is releasing its results as the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, Kansas City, Mo., is considering a proposal to create a special life insurance agent license for agents who focus on selling term life.

Advocates of the proposal say it would give low-income, moderate-income and minority households easier access to life insurance. Opponents say the value would expose consumers to agents who would be ill-equipped to analyze and address consumers’ financial needs.