With clients still skittish from the effects of the market downturn, many independent agents may be wondering where and how to continue generating new life sales.

Term life insurance can be an attractive choice given its relatively low cost and simple-to-understand structure. Finding and targeting the right clients, however, is the key challenge.

As you scout for new term life insurance prospects, keep in mind these three distinct groups. First, talk to clients who are worried about “throwing away” their premium dollars on a product they may never use. Second, look for clients who are refinancing their mortgage or purchasing a home. Finally, seek out those whose jobs or benefits packages no longer are available due to recent workplace layoffs or expense cut-backs.

Clients worried about ‘throwing away’ their hard-earned money
Whole life policies have been gaining traction in recent months due to the basic assumption that they represent a good, stable, long-term investment. Oftentimes, however, the potential for cash value build-up in these policies over time can come with a great deal of product complexity and a hefty price tag.

There is a solution for clients seeking the protection of life insurance at a cost-effective price, but don’t want to lose the money they put into the policy because they outlive the 20- or 30-year term.

A term life insurance policy with a return of premium option may be the answer. This type of policy includes the sought-after death benefit, but with more competitively priced premium rates and far less complex policy details than an equivalent whole life policy.

Term with return of premium allows policy owners to recover their base policy premiums income tax-free if they don’t use their policy’s death benefit throughout the term.

Clients refinancing their mortgage or buying a home
While the housing market has suffered tremendous losses since 2008, low interest rates have led to a rise in home loan activity. In fact, low interest rates have prompted approximately $1.1 trillion in refinancing activity in 2009, according to Freddie Mac.

Bargain prices also are bringing buyers back into the housing market. The median existing home price decreased 15% from December 2008 to December 2009, but the number of homes sold rose 6.5% year over year, according to the National Association of Realtors.

With refinancing on the upswing and lower prices attracting more home buyers, it may be a good time for clients to look at purchasing life insurance and safeguard what is typically their single biggest financial obligation — their mortgage.

Studies show the average American family spends one-third of its budget on housing expenses. Access to quality life insurance can help families stay in their home should something happen to a primary income provider. And with the savings from a refinanced mortgage or tax credit, life insurance can be more within their financial reach.

Clients who have lost life insurance through their employer
The unemployment rate has climbed to a 26-year high. And those who still have a job may have had their benefits packages reduced or eliminated. A recent survey by the LIFE Foundation found that 33% of those who made changes to their life insurance over the past year, lost coverage either due to a job loss or a job change.

While it may seem counterintuitive that clients with reduced income should spend money on life insurance, that’s when they may need the coverage the most. With the tough job market and retirement plans losing value, if the unexpected happens and a primary wage earner dies, life insurance can help the family get back on track financially.

For clients who have lost employer-provided coverage, term insurance is often a good fit. Help them find life policies that include additional benefits at little or no additional cost. Such options may include an accelerated death benefit, which provides a living benefit of up to 50% of the policy’s death benefit in advance if the insured is diagnosed with a terminal illness, or an accidental death benefit, which provides additional payments if death occurs as a result of an accident.

Agents play an important role in helping clients understand the value of life insurance as a major building block of a strong financial plan — one that should be maintained, if not increased, during uncertain times.

Term life insurance is not only simple to understand and cost-effective relative to other life insurance products, it’s the right solution for many clients facing life-changing events such as the purchase of a new home or the loss of a job. It is an essential financial product that can help your clients protect their families’ finances — both in today’s unpredictable market and into the future.

John Warren is vice president of Agency Distribution at Symetra Life Insurance Company. He can be reached at (800)706-0700 or invest@symetra.com.