LIMRA study reveals how important agents are to beneficiaries

By Jennifer Douglas

Debra believes in life insurance and the critical role it plays following the death of a loved one. After all, she knows about this firsthand:
    I feel a strong peace of mind about our coverage and the personal commitment of our agent, Clint, and his staff.
At 51, Debra lost her husband to cancer. She is grateful that he had purchased the whole life policy 31 years ago. Not only was the life insurance benefit needed, but of all the tasks Debra was faced with following her husband’s death, she found the life insurance claims process much easier and less stressful. Her insurance agent, Clint, was easy to get in touch with, responsive, compassionate, courteous and professional.

Twenty-nine days later, the $23,240 death benefit was placed into a checking account for Debra to access. She used the money to pay for her husband’s funeral and medical expenses. She also applied a portion toward the mortgage on their home in Iowa and bought a car for their 19-year-old son. Indeed, Debra says that life insurance played an extremely significant role with her immediate financial needs and will continue to make a difference in the long term as well. Debra is insured by the same carrier herself, and, should the need arise, she is very likely to do business with them again. It’s also quite likely that Debra will recommend this insurance company to a colleague or friend.

Debra was one of over 4,200 beneficiaries who participated in a recent LIMRA survey. The study found that an impressive 95 percent of beneficiaries are satisfied with the claims experience. Nearly half (48 percent) are likely to recommend the life insurance company they just interacted with. When we looked at the data more closely, a higher percentage of beneficiaries were likely to recommend the life insurance company when they worked with an agent (57 percent) than those whose primary contact was a claims examiner (47 percent), or anyone else ( 37 percent).

While the very top-performing companies in the survey do very well across the board — whether claimants deal with the agent or the home office — for most carriers, the presence of the agent makes for a more favorable experience.

Interactions with the Primary Contact
Percent of claimants offering an “Excellent” rating
Care and compassion60%43%
Took ownership60%44%
Offered clear explanations59%44%
Ease of reaching54%35%

LIMRA’s study quantitatively proves how valuable and valued life insurance agents are. But more than that, the study underscored the ways in which agents make a very difficult time a little easier for families who’ve just lost a loved one. They are often on the front line, fulfilling the promises made by our industry. With our eye often on sales and marketing, LIMRA’s survey of beneficiaries reminds us what life insurance is about at the very core. More than ever, it’s during this moment of truth that insurance agents are doing our industry proud.