Originally Published in The Brief, April 2022

Think about the businesses you’re loyal to. It’s likely because they cater to you. They offer things that make it easier for you.

Insurance is a critical necessity for Spanish-speaking consumers. And Customer Communications Group research found that the Hispanic/Latino market represents $1.5 trillion in buying power and are the most loyal consumers. This means that once a Hispanic/Latino consumer finds an insurance practice they feel comfortable with, they’re likely to want to primarily work with that practice and stay loyal.

Life insurance is key to a healthy financial foundation, making goals like home ownership, education, business ownership and wealth transfer possible. And among one of our fastest-growing demographic in the United States, Hispanic/Latino consumers, 

In this article, I’ll go over some of the things that might be helpful to incorporate to better serve specifically the Spanish-speaking Hispanic market so we can offer them the critical service of pairing them with the best life insurance solution.

Hire Bilingual Agents, Translate Materials

Spanish-language materials and Spanish-speaking customer service representatives aren’t always easy to find. Although many major insurance companies have some bilingual customer service representatives and Spanish-language materials, the actual advisor has to often do much of the translating.

At Ohio National Financial Services, we do have key materials in Spanish, including a business ‘fact-finder’ which is really helpful given the large number of Hispanic small business owners we serve.

The lack of consistent Spanish-language materials presents an opportunity for both industry membership organizations and insurance companies themselves to translate their materials for their Spanish-speaking agents and advisors.

At Women in Insurance and Financial Services, we have translated some of our major pieces into Spanish. In December 2021, our WIFS Puerto Rico chapter became fully accredited and a large number of their members speak Spanish. We also have bilingual members and our WIFS will offer in-language educational webinars for our broader membership starting this summer.

Technology has made translating materials easier and you’ll see our WIFS Puerto Rico chapter do their LinkedIn Posts in Spanish with the option to translate into English.

There are multiple resources that provide professional translation services, including Gengo, The Spanish Group and Stepes, among others.

Providing Spanish-language materials or support is important to facilitate communication for many clients. In some cases, clients may only speak Spanish, but even with bilingual consumers, there might be a preference for in-language materials. Having employees who speak Spanish and offering marketing materials in language provides a higher and more effective service level.

Focus on Mobile First

The Customer Communications Group also reported that the Hispanic/Latino market is young, with a median age of 28 compared with the median age of 37 for the entire U.S. population. Given this, they are highly digital and spend more time on mobile phones and conduct more research online than other demographics.

It’s critical that you have easy-to-find and easy-to-navigate websites, application processes and customer service options. It’s also helpful and important to have the ability to communicate via text.

Take a Team Approach

Offering a full range of products is important and since any one carrier is unlikely to offer a full range of competitive products (for example, life insurance, disability insurance, auto insurance and health insurance) offering multiple carriers and also seamlessly teaming with other professionals well-versed in the Hispanic market is important.

It’s also good to team with accounting and legal experts to round out offerings for small business owners and their unique estate planning needs.

Provide Education

LIMRA reports that almost a third of Hispanic consumers do not feel knowledgeable about life insurance and more than a quarter (26 percent) have not purchased it because they are uncertain of how much they may need and what type of policy will meet their needs best.

Protecting their families is important, but more than any other race or ethnicity, this demographic is looking for guidance from a financial professional to balance their budgets and their needs. Building trust and confidence through education can help solidify the relationship, which is an important step towards implementing coverage.

Provide Simplified Underwriting

Approximately 53 percent of Hispanics, a higher percentage than any other ethnic group or race, say they would be more willing to buy life insurance with simplified underwriting that avoids the need for a medical exam or a doctor’s office visit, according to LIMRA.

Simplified underwriting became more available during the pandemic and has now been made available by several life and disability income carriers with varying coverage amounts and age limits available. At Ohio National Financial Services, clients age 45 and under applying for a total coverage amount of $1,000,000 or less can apply without the need for a paramedical exam or third-party interview.

Know Their Unique Needs and Priorities

My sons come from a Hispanic family rich in a history of small business ownership. Their grandfather owned a concrete and construction company, and all four of his sons worked in the business.

Each of those four sons ended up also owning their own businesses – two of whom continued on in the contracting industry. My sons, like their father before them, also worked in the family business while in school.

In their grandfather’s and father’s businesses almost all their employees are/were solely or primarily Spanish speaking. If an insurance advisor were to want to work within the company, they would have to have the ability to communicate – both verbally and written – in Spanish.

Being small family-run businesses that don’t offer group benefits – like company paid retirement or group health/dental/life/disability – individual planning and solutions are the only way for the families to be covered unless there is a working spouse with group benefits.

As small business owners without access to a group retirement plan, there is more pressure to systematically fund their own retirements. Cash value life insurance is one way they have access to a pool of money they can use to fund retirement, and during lean times, like when purchasing homes, funding education and keeping the businesses running (like the pandemic when businesses were shut down).

And because employee loyalty and longevity is so strong, ensuring the business stayed in place and employees were paid was critical to them. Having significant cash readily available was important for them.

So an agent or professional serving my husband’s family would have to take all of those things into consideration.

Also, many Hispanic/Latino consumers have educational aspirations for their heirs. Being able to provide the next generation with the opportunity for higher education is important in the culture – whether they choose to stay in the family business or not.

My sons’ great grandfather worked in the mines in Wickenburg, Ariz. Their grandfather was grateful to be able to obtain a high school diploma. One of his four sons was able to go to a full four-year college. A good part of that history was due to lack of available funding, so college savings were a multi-generational family effort from the day my sons were born.

In Closing

Hispanic consumers, more than any other market segment, state they see the value in life insurance as a way to do more than just cover final expenses, but to also replace income, pay off housing debt and have a supplemental source of retirement income. In addition, taking their unique needs into account, you might find you need to help them find solutions that might help with their business and with their aspirations to provide higher education to their heirs.

Serving this demographic is critical, and some ways to do that are to offer Spanish-language materials, have bilingual agents and professionals, provide education and have mobile-friendly websites and application forms.

By making your practice a place for them to easily do business with you, you can help them get the insurance protection they need to ensure financial security for them and their families.

Toni Gonzales, MBA, LACP is a vice president of sales at Ohio National Financial Services. She is also the vice president of Women in Insurance and Financial Services. She is a DEI advocate and speaker.

The Brief logo   This article was originally published in The Brief, The Insurance Edition, April 2022.