Millennials and their tech-dependent lifestyles present a new challenge to the life insurance industry. While the sector grapples with the needs of an ageing population, it must also understand the might of millennials – already one of the largest demographic groups in the workforce.

By 2025 millennials will comprise 75 per cent of the global workforce1 and wield considerable economic power. This generation, defined loosely as those born from around 1980 up to 20002, is forcing life insurers to re-examine the way they do business and the way they engage with their customers. Demographers tell us that millennials are highly educated digital natives who are motivated by social causes and expect high-quality digital experiences from all sectors. They want easy, intuitive online transactions that meet their needs quickly. As CoreData Research recently noted3, “the upshot is that with millennials rapidly becoming a major consumer group, the time has arrived for CEOs and marketing managers to take them seriously as a valuable customer segment.”

The rise of fintech companies underlines the millennial-driven preference for digital interactions over human dealings. Apps that assist with everything from budgeting to acquiring home or personal loans are winning millennials over in droves. And investment in this sector is only growing – in the past five years, $3.7 billion of venture capital4 was injected into Australian fintechs targeting millennials.

So, the life insurance industry is ripe for disruption ­– and it has already started. Insurers are finding new channels and employing fresh strategies to reach millennials while staying true to their goal of protecting customers in their time of greatest need.

Direct and digital

Appealing to young people is an age-old dilemma for life insurers and advisers. The median age of new mothers is now 29.35, five years later than 40 years ago, pushing a key prompter for contacting an adviser about life insurance even later. Moreover, with fewer having property or large assets, they are less inclined to see life insurance as a wise investment.

The key to engaging millennials for advisers and insurers is being able to provide a digital experience that is quick and easy, says the Financial Services Council (FSC). The FSC points to leading market disruptors as examples: “Millennials want an experience that matches what they have today with products like Uber, Airbnb and Deliveroo.”

“They want it digital and they want it immediately and they want it explained really simply. That’s a key takeout for anybody designing life insurance products. If a life insurance product or superannuation fund can offer a service like Deliveroo – easy, very accessible, fun – they’ll get millennials.”

André Purtell, MetLife’s Senior Manager, Marketing Science, agrees. “The research6 clearly revealed that younger audiences are more open to advisers communicating with them digitally versus the older generation,” he says. “Consumers are expecting the application journey, for example, to be fast and easy, and digital can play a major role in satisfying these needs.”

“MetLife has digitised the applications process, which makes it much more efficient for both the customer and the adviser,” he says, “We have also streamlined the actual questions so that we only ask those that are relevant for that customer, a benefit you don’t get with a paper-based application.”

Seeking financial advice

While the bulk of clients  come to life insurance through group superannuation – 14 million policies in 2015, according to a Federal Government report7 – the sector relies on advisers to bring their products to another 4 million retail holders. But this critical adviser-client relationship is starting to shift.

Research has found millennials don’t have a high level of financial literacy; however, they do want to be informed and they now have a variety of sources at their fingertips. It’s no surprise that 67 per cent4of millennials prefer to receive financial advice via a digital platform and 76 per cent4 of their financial engagements are on a mobile device.

Moreover, millennials distinctly lack trust in traditional financial institutions. According to a KPMG report, 84 per cent8 would consider banking with a tech giant. These sentiments are echoed by the chairman of the Australian Prudential Regulatory Authority, Wayne Byres, who says millennials are more likely to trust brands such as Apple and Google9 over the big banks.

Digital advice platforms are also coming of age, with solutions such as “robo-advice” (automated financial advice) reducing the cost to serve and making advice accessible to more people, says futurist, speaker, board director and author Rocky Scopelliti.

“We’re seeing that one in four millennials trusts robots to make decisions on their behalf and one in three believe artificial intelligence will be the next big thing,” Scopelliti says. “Millennials have a confidence in technology that they don’t have to the same extent in institutions.”

Element of trust

All this isn’t to say that the conventional, face-to-face model is going away. However, it does mean that advisers need to think through how they can develop new digital advice solutions to drive an increase in millennial clients.

Millennials are careful about where their advice comes from, according to Scopelliti, taking into account factors such as independence, expertise and certification, and they don’t rely on one single provider. Family and friends, though, still play a role in providing financial advice, particularly in more complex financial decisions.

“Millennials are quite proficient and efficient at researching information and they use a diversity of sources to form their points of view,” Scopelliti says. “So when we look at what makes content trustworthy on the internet, we can see that an overwhelming 62 per cent believe that a certified website is what makes content trustworthy. Then it’s the reputation of the publisher shared by independent experts and the reputation of the content.

“They have more confidence in the independence of information in general, and it’s reflected in financial services as well.”

Countless career changes

Just as technology is fuelling an upheaval, so are people’s changing expectations. Unlike their parents, for example, millennials don’t imagine sticking to one career or one employer for decades. Such is the ease of upskilling and career switching that researchers expect millennials will have 17 different employers10 in a lifetime.

However, many financial products have been set up for the employees of generations past. Life insurance options need to be as mobile and flexible as their customers’ careers, Scopelliti says.

“It makes it very difficult for millennials, who are most likely to have many career transitions, to interlock life insurance into that structure,” he says. “I don’t think financial services, as products, are really designed to fit into a world defined by experiences. They’re designed as products rather than designed as services that fit and adapt within peoples’ lifestyles, if and when they do change and adapt.”

These rapidly changing work patterns (or the “gig economy”) present unique challenges to the underwriting of income protection, says MetLife Australia’s Technical and Advice Specialist Chris Kirby. “Historically, life insurance companies had a strict approach, and would only consider income protection for someone who was engaged at least 30 hours a week in their primary vocation,” he says. “Today where part-time, contract and job share models are becoming common employment arrangements for millennials, MetLife has formed a progressive approach where income protection can be considered as long as someone is working 15 hours a week in their primary vocation. Further if they have other working arrangements in similar or related areas then the incomes from these can also be considered.”

Customised and customer-centric

Engaging millennials poses wide-ranging challenges – and change – for insurance providers and financial advisers. Internal structures must be rebuilt and products rebooted as technologies are integrated to create better customer experiences through seamless digital interactions.

For example, we have recently introduced an “eclaims” system that uses customer-centric design to simplify the life insurance claims process. Created for tablet and desktop platforms, the eclaim system allows clients to digitally lodge and track their claims. The eclaim has a pre-fill mechanism that automatically inputs client details and also allows claimants to attach supporting documentation.

Efforts such as these, which provide tailored solutions rather than arcane, outdated products, will allow advisers to engage millennials with more relevance and credibility. The earlier insurers can customise their offerings to meet and even surpass the needs of millennials, the more likely they will be to win over this emerging customer base.

Living up to the expectations of millennials means offering them the chance to enjoy what life insurance has always promised – a secure future protected against the financial impacts of a personal disaster.



  1. PWC - Future of Life Insurance in Australia March 2017
  2. Time Magazine - Millennials: The Me Me Me Generation May 2013
  3. Core Data Research - Marketing to Millennials: Why They Are That Different
  4. Telstra - Millennials, Mobiles and Money The forces reinventing financial services
  5. CHILD - What is the average age of new mothers?
  6. MetLife Report: Understanding the Adviser-Client Relationship 2018
  7. Parliament of Australia - Background on the life insurance industry 2017
  8. KPMG - Capitalising on the banking demands of the Gen Y professionals 2017
  9. AFR - Millennials place trust in Apple, Google over banks says APRA's Wayne Byres March 2017
  10. MCCrindle – Job Mobility in Australia