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Joshua Police. (Photo: Boston Mutual Life Insurance Company)

Life Health > Life Insurance > Permanent Life Insurance

Life Insurance Faces a Family Budget Stress Test: Joshua Police

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What You Need to Know

  • Boston Mutual sells life insurance and related products to working families.
  • Joshua Police says the company looked hard at potential buyers and found stress.
  • To protect workers better, he says, companies need to address that stress better.

Joshua Police thinks financial professionals can help families protect themselves better against the risk of premature death by getting people talking about their hopes and fears.

Police is the executive vice president of distribution and business development at Boston Mutual Life Insurance Company, a Canton, Massachusetts-based life insurer that’s been around since 1891 and has $1.6 billion in assets.

He oversees the company’s individual life insurance business as well as its efforts to reach the employer group and voluntary benefits markets. Some of the individual life policies are the kinds of cash-value products that consumers can use in retirement income planning as well as for protecting loved ones against the unexpected loss of a parent.

Police, who has a bachelor’s degree in history from Bowdoin College, originally planned to become a teacher. He got involved with insurance after meeting his wife, who came from a family of people who worked in insurance.

He began selling and wholesaling annuities and related products at Sun Life Financial in 2005. He moved over to Boston Mutual as a group territory manager in 2008 and took over as head of distribution in June.

Police provided insights via email about what he sees middle-market consumers doing and thinking.

The interview has been condensed and edited.

THINKADVISOR: What took up most of your time and energy last year, and what did you learn from that?

JOSHUA POLICE: Last year I was in a different role than my current position; I was focused on business development, but also led our small sales team in the New England region in a new area called One Company Solutions.

As part of my previous role, in 2021 I worked on two key projects. The first was consumer research. Our goal was to better understand who was purchasing our whole life insurance policies.

We started by gathering quantitative data by hosting internal focus groups, and six months later came up with a more defined consumer profile.

We then partnered with LIMRA to host external focus groups based on that profile and really dug into the qualitative data around buying patterns, wants and needs, trust levels, coverage needs, and so on.

Overall, we discovered consumers have a significant amount of anxiety and stress when it comes to buying insurance — specifically life insurance — and need more education on the products and processes.

Easing that anxiety, we found, requires real people and live discussions — not just technology.

During this time, we were also building out our Small Business Solutions offering locally here in New England through select producer partners.

This project was originally set up as a pilot program in Massachusetts and Rhode Island and was extended to Maine and Connecticut following initial success.

We knew there was a real need for a targeted solution within the space, and our suite of products and services really aligned well, allowing us to offer administration, technology and enrollment all within an all-inclusive package for small businesses.

What are you focusing on the most right now?

We are currently working on extending our Small Business Solutions program to additional markets nationwide with a slightly different offering than our program in the Northeast.

So far, we have garnered some great results and are projected to see similar results in these additional regions that we are currently seeing in the Northeast.

What forces out there are helping, and what forces are hurting?

The pandemic drove an increased understanding of the importance of life insurance, and it seems across the industry and in industry-related data, the intent to purchase policies has gone up; we certainly heard it in our focus groups.

The Great Resignation is also having an impact. Employers need to attract and retain top talent, and they are seeking unique and robust ways to do so. A suite of voluntary benefits — including life — within a package is proving to be a great way to fill the gap.

However, we are also seeing a lot of pressure for our customers as they deal with the repercussions of supply chain and inflation costs, such as the rise in gas prices, food shortages and interest rates.

With added uncertainty, consumers are withholding their discretionary income, causing many to move purchasing life insurance lower on the priority list.

What do you think your market (or your specialty, or the world) will look like five years from now?

I think the need for consumers to have a balance of independent research paired with industry expert guidance and insights will continue to be a factor.

I believe there will still be a significant role for those who help consumers purchase insurance.

Within the next five years, I wouldn’t be surprised if the industry sees an influx of self-guided decision-support tools available to customers, giving them the opportunity to create their own customizable plan before they reach an insurance professional/agent to purchase.

What, if anything, should readers or other players, such as industry groups and members of Congress, be doing to bring about positive change?

There are a significant number of people in our country that are underinsured and underserved — they simply don’t know what coverage and how much of it they need.

This knowledge gap puts a major responsibility on organizations and our government to educate and close the divide to increase financial security and peace of mind for Americans.

Joshua Police. (Photo: Boston Mutual Life Insurance Company)


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