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The Health of Generations: Selling insurance across age groups

Mar 3, 2021

Different generations approach health insurance in different ways—so shouldn’t your approach to selling insurance differ, too?

By understanding generational differences, agencies, brokerages, and independent agents can develop effective marketing plans that target each age group. When done correctly, segmenting your prospects and leads on a generational basis can make your sales outreach easier—and your bottom line healthier.

With that in mind, let’s examine the differences between three generations that likely make up the bulk of your clientele: baby boomers, Generation X, and Generation Y (also known as millennials).

1. Selling Insurance to Millennials (Generation Y)

According to a study conducted by the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs  there are an estimated 82.22 million millennials—generally people born between 1981 and 1996—living in the U.S. in 2020. Millennials are now the second largest generation in the US, after Gen Z. 

Selling insurance to the Generation Y population is a bit different than selling to anyone else. For starters, members of this younger generation grew up with technology. They’re used to companies in all sectors continuously leveraging new tools to deliver an engaging digital experience that provides the convenience and instant gratification they demand. 

Millennials believe that insurance companies and healthcare providers need to invest in new technology that delivers a modern experience. To this end, quote and enrollment tools can come in handy for insurance brokerages and agencies. These solutions enable younger prospects to shop, compare, and even enroll in plans around the clock—whenever it’s most convenient.

Beyond that, millennials approach healthcare differently than other generations. For example, a poll conducted by the Kaiser Family Foundation found that, 45 percent of millennials don’t have a primary care doctor. What’s more, millennials are also more cost-conscious than other generations. One CarePayment study found that 64 percent of them delayed healthcare decisions because of price, for example.

Since millennials are becoming the largest generation in America, it is critical for insurance agencies and brokerages to develop a strategy that engages with this key demographic. By making customers feel valued, providing the modern experience they demand, and adding value with content marketing and other resources, you can make your agency or brokerage stand out against the competition that is slower to adapt to client expectations.

2. Selling Insurance to Generation Xers

Often called the “middle child” of the generations because it sits between baby boomers and millennials, Generation X refers to those born between 1965 and 1980. As the middle children, Gen Xers are hard to pin down; they share some common characteristics with millennials (e.g., a reticence to go to the doctor and digital savviness) and some characteristics with baby boomers (e.g., consumption of traditional media channels and more disposable income).

Generally speaking, Generation X lacks confidence in established institutions—like Social Security, healthcare, savings, and financial markets. Although there’s plenty of talk about how millennials are dominating the workforce, it’s actually Gen X that’s making the biggest impact. One study, for example, found that 51 percent of business leaders around the world were members of this generation.

When it comes to health insurance, Gen Xers are most concerned with caring for their aging parents and their younger children. They don’t care as much about their own health—to the point where one in three of them avoid scheduling doctor’s appointments because they don’t want to hear any bad news. 

When selling insurance to the Gen X population, recognizing this generation’s doubts and worries presents a great opportunity for insurance agents and brokers to position their products as wise investments when planning for the unknown.

Finally, the Generation X population is comfortable using technology. In fact, this generation is the most active on social media. That being the case, you may want to create and maintain a robust presence as a tactic for selling insurance to Gen Xers effectively.

3. Selling Insurance to Baby Boomers

Baby boomers were born between 1946 and 1964. There are about 74.1 million baby boomers alive in the U.S. today, and 10,000 of them reach retirement age every day. Many baby boomers are on fixed incomes, living off their retirement accounts and Social Security stipends. At the same time, there are still many boomers in the workforce. Not all of them are well-prepared for retirement, and some of them just want to work because they were raised that way.

Companies that want to succeed in selling insurance to members of this generation need to anticipate their needs—whether they’re aging into Medicare or looking for plans that have good long-term care benefits.

Although in the past, older generations might not have been too comfortable using technology, that’s not the case with most baby boomers. In fact, 87 percent of adults ages 50-64 used the internet in 2018, according to a study from Statista.

As you develop your strategy to engage with these older prospects, consider the potentially huge opportunity to use digital promotions (e.g., email marketing) to drive more sales. The best part is that this doesn’t have to be anywhere near as hard as it might sound thanks to customer relationship management solutions

Are You Ready to Sell to Prospects in Each Generation?

Now that you have a better idea of how to sell to prospects in each generation, it’s time to figure out how to sell more to each client.

Check out the following statistics on key health insurance trends:

Insurance by Generation

Read our white paper, The Complete Guide to Successful Cross-Selling­, to learn exactly how to do that.