The DIG preview: Generational discourse arrives in insurance

Editor’s note: This is a special preview of The Dig, a weekly note from Digital Insurance editor-in-chief Nathan Golia that is sent directly to subscribers. Sign up to receive it weekly in your inbox by registering for the site and then selecting it in Newsletter Preferences.

Chubb released a fascinating bit of content this week: Titled “Selling across Generations,” the report, targeting agents for its high-net-worth Personal Risk Services group, aims to help those distributors understand what motivates their customers how and why to buy insurance based on their generation.

Chubb’s research partners include Dr. Megan Gerhardt, who has a book titled Gentelligence: The Revolutionary Approach to Leading an Intergenerational Workforce that focuses on breaking down age-based tension. There’s also Jeff Bloomfield, who has a book titled and covering NeuroSellingwhich aims to help people in sales positions understand how neuroscience affects their sales prospects, advising a storytelling-based approach.

I want to be clear that this survey covers only high-net-worth individuals, so even though generations are large and unwieldy, the cohort measured here is slimmed down a little bit. That may also indicate, however, that the findings here do not speak to the conditions faced by lower-income people across generations.

But let’s dive in anyway. Chubb says that “research shows there are core universal needs that all people share, regardless of generation: the need to be seen as competent, to connect, and to be autonomous.” Generational differences come in how each cohort expresses these needs. Boomers prioritize “ease of use” for insurance, while Gen Z doesn’t use that term, for example, the report says.

Younger consumers are more likely to expect that their agent will be more explicit about how insurance and other financial services will meet that customers’ particular long-term goals. And in the case of Gen Z, 44% expect that their agent will help them define those goals – a percentage that drops to 20% for Boomers.

Chubb concludes that having experienced a major recession and global pandemic in their formative years, Millennial and Gen Z consumers are more risk averse than older generations, but also require a high level of trust with any service provider – including an insurance agent.

And that’s why, despite my disclaimer above, I think many of these assertions are more widely applicable across income levels. I’m not exactly Personal Risk Services’ prime client – ​​I’m doing well, but not that well – and I feel this way. Adding another data point: I often find myself counseling acquaintances to call insurance agents for their questions that they direct to me when they hear I “work in insurance.” When they ask how to find one, I tell them to ask around, and check reviews. Sure enough, the report says that 73% of Millennials read social media reviews of insurance agents. (Guilty!)

The point, then, is that younger people (of which I am at the tippy-top end at this point, staring 40 right between the eyes) perceive their risk acutely, and react in similar ways despite their income level. It’s totally understandable, given the conditions they face. Now, more important than ever, insurance companies must walk the talk about customer advocacy and care, and make sure that their representatives are presenting that to these clients who are crying out for a little help understanding it all.

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