Robert Kerzner, president and CEO of LIMRA, LOMA and LL Global Inc., took to the stage yesterday at the organization’s Life Insurance Conference to talk about the state of today’s industry. His presentation covered a broad range of subject matters, all bolstered by LIMRA’s illustrative data.

The presentation took on a “State of The Union” type of feel and it showed the industry is currently full of many successes, opportunities, challenges and misconceptions.

A recent LIMRA study found that 75% of all Americans have confidence in life insurance companies, and that number jumps to 90% among Americans who own individual life insurance.  The study found that peoples’ faith and confidence in the products and the companies that are selling them is incumbent upon whether they’ve had some type of exposure, either directly or indirectly, to the benefits that owning life insurance can provide.

Not surprisingly, 8 out of 10 consumers surveyed that have had a positive experience with life insurance say that it plays a critical role after the death of a loved one. Close to two-thirds of Americans feel that life insurance gives people peace of mind. “This study further confirms what I have believed throughout my career: life insurance provides the financial security that allows families peace of mind when the unthinkable happens,” Kerzner said.

A blatant opportunity makes itself clear with LIMRA’s statistic that 58 million Americans are underinsured. According to statistics, much of the work has been done. People know they need life insurance, and they know what a help it can be. But making it enough of a financial priority is easier said than done.

The constant fluctuations of the legislative and regulatory environment, low interest rates and a tepid economic recovery make it difficult for families to invest in life insurance products. “As an industry, we have got to find a way to reach these families and help them understand the value of life insurance — not just economically but emotionally — so when they experience the death of loved one they too can experience the peace of mind and financial security that life insurers offer,” Kerzner said.

In order to achieve this, sales strategies must evolve. This includes realizing that most consumers do some rudimentary research online before they purchase anything these days and expanding one’s social media presence to include prospecting through social media. The presentation also noted that many wives are now earning more than their husbands, and even in situations where the husband earns more, many times it’s the wife who makes financial decisions. It would behoove producers to sell more aggressively to wives in order to close the coverage gap.