There are a lot of preconceptions about the millennial generation that make some financial professionals shy away from working with them. For instance, you may hear that they are laden with student debt and lack disposable income let alone a savings account. They are renting longer and starting families later than previous generations, which means protecting loved ones from unexpected expenses (like loss of income or mortgage payments) may not be a concern. While these things may be true for some, there are millennials that are open to conversations about life insurance…as long as it doesn’t look like their parents’ process (I’ll get to that later).
Here are some things I’ve found helpful when talking to younger clients about life insurance.
Young clients don’t want to talk about dying
Death can be a touchy topic with a client who is in their 20s or early 30s. They feel invincible at this point in their lives and may not have the life experience to understand the need to protect their loved ones in the event of an untimely death. However, they’ll admit they may get sick or sustain an injury and be in need of financial help if that happens. So rather than focus solely on death benefit (which of course you need to mention because it is the primary purpose of life insurance), talk about a life insurance feature they don’t have to die to use—living benefits.
I often tell millennials, “Life insurance with living benefits helps take care of life’s ‘what if’s.’” Heart disease, cancer and stroke are prevalent in America and your client likely knows someone who has had one of these or other chronic, critical or terminal illnesses that can quickly cripple personal finances. A life insurance policy with living benefits can give them access to a portion of the death benefit to help pay for medical expenses.
Millennials are practical about money
Millennials aren’t known for having sizeable savings accounts. They usually have just a little set aside as they are still paying off student loans. According to Business Insider, Millennials typically have a practical approach to money and know they need to save for emergencies and contribute to a retirement account.1 In many cases they are better educated than previous generations, which leads to better employment and financial well-being.2
Millennial clients can benefit from conversations about supplementing their ability to save for the future with the potential cash value accumulation of an index universal life insurance policy. And if the policy has a lifetime income rider, they can have guaranteed tax-free income in retirement.
Helping build a better future
When discussing life insurance with any client it is important to tell a story they can relate to. One way to describe an index universal life policy is “layers of protection.” Personally, I think of layers of clothing I have to wear to an early season baseball game in the Midwest. For instance, many carriers offer index universal life insurance products with multiple benefits (or layers) including: Death benefit, living benefits, cash accumulation potential and retirement income via tax-free loans from the cash value.
Layer one, T-shirt. While a millennial may not be interested in conversations about their own death, the first layer of protection offered by an index universal life is the death benefit. You can relate the importance of the death benefit to your millennial clients by explaining how it can help pay off their student or other debt, and not leave it to their loved ones if they die unexpectedly.
Layer two, sweatshirt. A living benefits rider can help in the event your client gets a serious medical condition. With qualifying chronic, critical or terminal illness, clients can access a portion of the death benefit to help pay medical expenses while preserving their other assets.
Layer three, coat. An index universal life (IUL) insurance policy will accumulate cash value that will grow tax-deferred based on the growth of various indices. IUL policies are protected from market turndowns and can be appealing to the practical approach to saving that millennials are known for. The cash value can be used to build a better future and help pay for various things like a down payment on a house, a wedding, or even child’s college expenses—so they don’t face the same student loan debt as their parents!
Layer four, hat and gloves. The ability to supplement other retirement income streams with tax-free loans from an index universal life (IUL) insurance policy is the fourth “layer.” Millennials acknowledge that in the next few decades more and more people will be receiving social security benefits. During that same time, fewer workers will be contributing to support that program.3 That means it is essential for younger generations to identify additional income streams to access going into their retirement years.
Have you ever seen a filing cabinet in a millennial’s home?
Do not overlook the millennial generation as an important client base. They are interested in financial advice, but not from a salesperson and maybe not while seated across the kitchen table from you. Millennials have questions and are willing to do the research on their own before talking to you. They also expect you to be comfortable communicating via text, email, social media and your website. Zoom or other virtual meetings can be effective with younger clients even when we’re not in a pandemic. Younger clients don’t consider them “virtual” meetings, they are a legitimate way to fit meetings into their busy schedules.
To answer the question on the filing cabinet, the likely answer is no. We may be used to a four-drawer filing cabinet, but a millennial wants a touchless, paperless process if possible. Insurance products are important, but so are the processes of doing business. Look for carriers that support electronic sales tools, applications, signatures and an electronic application delivery process.
One last comment before you go out into the world of millennials to sell layers of protection: If you are wondering where to find these clients, look right in front of you. They are your current clients’ children. Or your clients’ friends’ children. If you can advise them when they’re in the early adult years, your practice could earn a client for life.
- Social Security Administration Fact Sheet, published 2020.
Withdrawals and loans will reduce available death benefit and policy value. Withdrawals beyond basis may be taxable income. Excessive and unpaid loans will reduce death benefits and policy value and may cause the policy to lapse. If a policy lapses, unpaid loans are treated as distributions for tax purposes.