<p><a href="http://www.freedigitalphotos.net/images/view_photog.php?photogid=2804">Image: nokhoog_buchachon / FreeDigitalPhotos.net</a></p>

I recently read an article about retirement savings studies that found people who saw themselves in the future, either via age-progressed photos or through a virtual reality program, were more likely to sock away funds in their 401(k)s. Why? The theory is that people feel more protective of an older self they can visualize.

I was curious, so I decided to try it on the website www.in20years.com, which allows you to age an uploaded photo of yourself by 20 to 30 years. The result? Too hideous to post here. Turns out 30-years-from-now me has a serious eye-melting-down-the-face problem. The whole process didn’t necessarily make me want to save more for retirement. It did, however, make me want to invest in some heavy-duty wrinkle cream and any burgeoning keep-your-eye-in-the-right-place technologies.

It also got me thinking about life insurance, which, like a retirement account, has a (one hopes) distant pay off. Could some form of virtual reality work in this situation, too? And how?

Many people are staying single until later in life, but statistics say the vast majority will eventually marry. It makes more sense for 20-somethings to insure themselves now, while they’re healthy and young, even if they don’t necessarily have a family to protect. Yet many don’t, and it’s hard to blame them — how can you justify buying a policy to protect something you’re not sure you’ll have? It feels like wedding dress shopping while you’re single.

Maybe some kind of imaging program or computer simulation could help with that. Would people be more willing to protect a future family if they could actually see the 2.5 children and the loyal Golden Retriever?

Or maybe virtual reality could play a role in helping clients picture a future without them. Agents routinely ask clients about how their families would be provided for if they were to die suddenly. What if agents were able to enter their clients’ answers into some kind of virtual reality system and watch the potential outcomes play out? A client could take a tour of his family’s life, two years after his death, if they live only on the savings he left them. Change a few settings, and he can then watch how things would look if he left them the savings and, say, a $1 million life insurance policy.

Of course, none of these made-up-by-me virtual reality machines exists yet (as far as I know, anyway). For now, agents are left with decidedly Version 1.0 tactics for visualization…but that’s not to say they don’t work. There are lots of ways to draw a picture for a client, whether you’re using the melty-eye-face photo-aging site or just a detailed needs analysis.

Do you encourage clients to visualize their future? Does it help? And what tactics have worked best for you? Tell me in the comments section!

 

Corey Dahl is life channel and social media editor for LifeHealthPro.com and managing editor of Life Insurance Selling.