Major life insurance organizations are providing teachers with the tools to help high school students learn about life, disability, and health insurance as part of Financial Literacy Month in April.  

The Association for Advanced Life Underwriting, the Life and Health Insurance Foundation for Education, the Million Dollar Round Table, and the National Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors worked together to create NextGen3, an interactive program which includes lessons, games, and videos designed to appeal to a younger demographic. And even though agents can’t actually sell to high school students – and, under the new health reform, most likely won’t have the opportunity to offer them health insurance until they’re in their mid-20s – teaching young people about financial literacy could be a great opportunity for agents looking to establish and grow their practice over the coming years.

As the agent population ages, it becomes harder and harder for producers to connect with younger generations. We recently ran a story about Gen Y’s perception of insurance agents, and the results weren’t good. Of the five 20-somethings we interviewed – including one person who had experience in the financial industry – not a single person said anything positive about agents or the industry. Words like “sleazy,” “negative,” “rigged,” “superficial,” and “pushy” were thrown around.

Worse still, agents do think members of Gen Y are good prospects, but the numbers show they just aren’t marketing to them. According to the 2009 Brokerage Study by Agent Media, exactly 0 percent of agents were marketing their products or services to consumers in their 20s.     

So what can you do to reverse this? First, start young. Use tools like NextGen3 to educate up-and-coming 20-somethings about the importance of protecting their assets. Second, don’t dismiss the power of young prospects. Even if they only buy small policies now, you are creating a foundation for a long-term relationship. Finally, make sure that you can connect to them on their level. That might mean making some changes to your technology or marketing. Do your research, but don’t talk down to them. They’re not kids. They’re just 20-year-olds.  

Heather Trese is the associate editor of the Agent’s Sales Journal.