Throughout June and July I was able to partially step away from my everyday routine and jump on a project that allowed me to examine the mechanics of how the industry moves and thinks from a very different perspective than I have had throughout my tenure covering the life and health insurance industry.
The National Underwriter research team began the work that would culminate as its inaugural project, Multicultural Markets: Positioned for Growth in early June. The research study, sponsored by Prudential Financial, randomly surveyed more than 1,600 life and health producers nationwide with the aim of taking the pulse of the industry concerning multicultural markets and the extent to which they are being adequately educated, communicated with and marketed to.
For the purpose of our study, the research considered four distinct multicultural markets: African American, Hispanic, Asian and LGBT. The results, which appeared in the September print issue of National Underwriter Life & Health, Senior Market Advisor and Life Insurance Selling, brought to light areas where the industry has come up short while at the same time identifying clear opportunities for expansion in the rapidly growing demographics that are altering the composition of the country. The sheer amount of data we were able to unearth on a topic so acutely germane to the long-term vitality of the industry and the long-term trajectory of our country was, in a sense, rather humbling.
On a daily basis I pour over press releases and reports that clearly highlight and identify trends that are currently, or soon will, impact the relationship between producers and consumers. By the time these releases and reports hit my inbox, they are whittled down to digestible pieces of data that allows me to track, target, verify and report on the trends that producers and carriers need to remain competitive. What I do not often see is the staggering amount of descriptive metadata that needs to be manicured, ignored or debated in order to produce a report from an encompassing survey. The process can be dizzying and often times, as with any endeavor, some interesting nuggets do not make the final product and remain sequestered in the cells of an spreadsheet or a note on a rough draft’s margin.
With this column I hope to bring to light some data that was not included in the final survey results as I feel it is practical information for today’s insurance professional.
Barriers can be easily erected by both language and ignorance as to the nuances of a culture. One would assume, both could very easily and seriously hinder a sale. A language barrier in any capacity always appears as an arduous challenge to overcome. There is, of course, the possibility of the main points getting jumbled in translation, awkward silences that creep in and inhibit rapport-building and the potential for body language (sometimes one’s only method of communication) to send the wrong signals.