Life insurance can do some pretty amazing things. What other product can help build more security into life’s uncertainty and provide loved ones time to grieve when a death occurs, funds to pay off debts and the ability to leave a legacy to surviving family members? But we know that for all of this to occur, you need to own life insurance.

See also: The power of the life insurance pro

Today, there are 11 million fewer American households covered by life insurance than there were six years ago. A recent LIMRA survey on consumer understanding of life insurance discovered that many Americans know little more than the basics. On average, survey participants were only able to answer four out of 10 questions about life insurance correctly. The statistics are even more disheartening for multicultural markets.

One of the best ways to penetrate a market is to hire, train and educate professionals who are part of those markets. Conrad Coke, associate general agent at South Florida-based Cambridge Financial Partners LLC, says that the firm’s diverse selling force is hugely helpful in gaining market share of a multicultural clientele.

“Many of our financial associates and clients are first and second generation immigrants — and proud American citizens. As a group, we believe in the American dream and what that means to families. We understand the challenges our clients face in moving to a new area, let alone a new country, to assimilate and provide for their families,” he says. “Our clients are our neighbors, and we spend time together. People do business with people whom they like and trust.”

The Hispanic market is one group that needs the outreach. With more than $1 trillion in disposable income, Hispanics are an economic powerhouse. They comprise more than 16 percent of the total U.S. population and accounted for 56 percent of all population growth from 2000 to 2010.

See our infographic: The Hispanic market: Top 7 metro areas

Data shows Hispanics are the most underserved by the insurance industry. Thirty-four percent of Hispanics have life insurance compared to 62 percent of the general population. In addition, they are much less likely to have met with a financial professional.

One of the biggest challenges is that many Hispanics haven’t been exposed to the benefits of insurance or planning financially for the future. It’s not prevalent in their culture — yet. Initially at least, this makes it hard for Hispanic prospects to comprehend exactly what insurance can do for them, their family and their future. However, Hispanics are a receptive audience to insurance if approached properly. 

Financial literacy as a door opener

A good way to approach multicultural prospects is to educate them on key financial issues and challenges. Focus on the benefits of life insurance, dispelling common myths and misconceptions. Many consumers in multicultural markets think that life insurance costs nearly three times the actual price, therefore deterring them from getting the coverage they need.

One way to do this is to host ongoing seminars in the community and workplace to provide comprehensive financial guidance and accessibility to financial solutions. Information is crucial, to help people prepare financially for the future. For any American, this is true, but for multicultural markets, it is especially true. Historically, multicultural markets are not as familiar with the financial process, what it can do for their future and how it can impact their families. Key to success is laying a foundation of trust and credibility. 

Understanding cultural dynamics

Improving financial literacy is not a one-size-fits-all approach. Financial issues and education vary across cultures, and acquiring an understanding of these differences is critical. People learn in different ways, and having tailored material is especially important to reaching multicultural communities.

“The language difference is huge. Even native-born English speakers have a difficult time understanding the complexities of insurance and other financial products. By communicating in a customer’s native language, when appropriate, you’ll develop a trustworthy relationship because [your prospects will] better understand the message,” Coke says. 

September is Life Insurance Awareness Month. Take this opportunity to educate people on the importance of life insurance, starting with the basics. “You don’t have to go far — sponsor a Little League team or collaborate with a business in the community,” Coke suggests.

We need to recognize the landscape around us is changing and look to adapt our business. Start by recruiting diversity into your agency, get involved in your community and educate yourself on cultural norms. There is an overwhelming need to reach out to and support underserved multicultural markets, and it’s up to us to respond.

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