What does it take to sell insurance to today’s modern family?

There’s no question that technology has changed the way many customers learn about and buy insurance products today. In some cases, traditional approaches remain effective. But it pays to understand distinct customer segments and tailor approaches for each.

One way to examine the approaches an agent/broker may need to capture the attention of and appeal to today’s households is to look at the quintessential “modern family”—that is, the characters of ABC’s hit comedy series, Modern Family. Together, the characters in this extended family comprise three very different family units, but they share a common concern for protecting the ones they love.

If you are unfamiliar with the show, here is a family tree that will help you better understand the family dynamic. Source: abc.go.com

modern family tree

The Pritchett family

Let’s start with the Modern Family patriarch, Jay Pritchett. Jay, on the “other side” of 50, has a younger wife (Gloria), two grown children (Claire and Mitchell) from a previous marriage and two younger children—teenaged Manny (Gloria’s son) and infant Fulgencio Joseph.

Jay owns a construction business and enjoys a comfortable and upscale lifestyle—and particularly, a relaxing game of golf. Gloria does not work. Certainly, Jay is concerned about protecting his immediate family’s interests and lifestyle—but he also keeps a keen eye on the wellbeing of his extended family.

Jay’s potential insurance needs extend to both his family and his business. He is a good candidate for commercial lines insurance for his business from a company that specializes in the construction industry and can provide fast turnaround of certificates as well as offers worker’s compensation insurance for his employees. In addition, he needs homeowners and auto insurance for himself and Gloria, as well as a life insurance policy that defines up-to-date and specific beneficiaries among his wife and all children—particularly making sure that the needs of his newest child are well addressed. He might also consider a smaller policy for his wife, with riders for his younger children.

Jay is used to business interactions that are highly relationship based. Given that, he is most comfortable—and responds best to—working with an agent he has known in the community for a long time; someone who commits the time to get to know him. An effective approach might be a face-to-face meeting that starts over a golf game and carries into lunch and then back to the office to look at details of a formal, nicely bound proposal.  Jay wants an agent who understands and supports all his needs and answers the phone when he calls.

The Dunphy family
Jay’s daughter, Claire, is married to Phil Dunphy, a realtor. Claire and Phil have three children—Haley, Alex, and Luke. Haley is college-aged,  Alex is rapidly approaching that milestone, and Luke is pre-teen. Phil works for himself. A stay-at-home mother for many years, Claire recently re-joined the workforce by working for her dad at Pritchett Closets & Blinds.

The Dunphys’ also have fairly extensive insurance needs. With their two oldest children now driving, their auto insurance requirements and costs have grown. In addition, they need to cover the family home—with sufficient liability coverage given that Phil is a bit, “accident-prone.” In short, they need policies that will not incur higher rates for every claim, and they must carefully consider deductibles.

With Phil being self-employed, planning for retirement is also an important consideration. The Dunphys may benefit from a life insurance policy such as a universal life or variable universal life product that builds cash value for retirement while providing coverage for Claire and the children should anything happen to Phil. An additional term policy for Claire would ensure that Phil can care for the children should anything happen to Claire.  Given the range of products needed by the cost conscious Dunphys, a carrier that offers a discount for owning multiple policies is a great option.

Claire does much of the ground work for the family’s financial decisions. For example, something in a television commercial catches her eye and prompts her to do some Internet research. Based on that, she wants to know more, so she uses the agent locator tool on a preferred carrier’s web site to identify a local contact and arrange a meeting for her and Phil. That agent uses the information Claire has already entered into the portal to prepare some custom proposals and present those during the meeting with the Dunphys. This is reassuring to Claire, as it appears the agent is listening and understands her needs and interests.  Given their busy lifestyle, Claire wants to be able to call with a house or car insurance claim 24/7 – and would like to check on the status of that claim online.

The Pritchett-Tucker family
Jay Pritchett’s son Mitchell and his partner of eight years, Cameron “Cam” Tucker, have a young daughter, Lily Tucker-Pritchett. They are considering adding to the family with another adoption. Mitchell is a lawyer. Cam recently went back to work as a music teacher but has shifted positions and is now the school’s football coach.

As a growing family, their insurance needs are evolving. Of course, they need home and auto coverage. With one young child—and potentially another—they also need life insurance policies that will support not only Lily but also Cam should something happen to the primary wage-earner, Mitchell.

Mitchell makes the family’s financial decisions and is quite technology savvy. He sees an interesting article referenced on Twitter and clicks through to learn more about a new life insurance product that may help protect his family and that evolves as his family’s needs change over time. He follows up by using an online tool to calculate the product, coverage amount and riders that are best for the family. Now, he’s ready to talk with Cam about this coverage.

Cameron is an emotional buyer and needs to have things explained to him in a clear and direct but fun manner. Mitchell shows him an informative but entertaining video on the insurance carrier’s site that engages Cameron and enables him to understand why they need life insurance to protect their family and how the policy works.  Highlighting an integrated contact center that seamlessly connects information from agent calls and online interactions shows the Pritchell-Tucker’s that their insurance carrier works for the entire family.

One family, differing strategies
Family wellbeing truly is at the heart of Modern Family. All of the characters exude a strong sense of concern and interest in protecting the ones they love. But the three family units are quite different—and the channels and strategies for reaching them, appealing to them, and ultimately serving their protection needs must be different, as well.

1 Comment

  • Jeanne Albanese November 21, 2013 1:58 pm

    Laura, using Modern Family to illustrate insurance needs is brilliant. it’s one of my favorite shows!

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