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November 14, 2001
Suddenly, Everyone Wants Life Insurance
Lif
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e insurance associations as well as companies and agents across the country say the sale of policies and queries for information have jumped since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

"A lot of people, prompted by the events of Sept. 11, are looking at their full financial situation," Jack Dolan of the American Council of Life Insurers told the Associated Press. "We are in uncharted territory."

Quotesmith.com, which provides instant quotes for about 90 term life insurance companies, found that for October it had a 48 percent increase in coverage requests compared to August, the month before the bombings.

"That's a big move for our industry," said Bob Bland, Quotesmith.com's president. "Suddenly insurance has come front and center in the nation's consciousness."

Life insurance "helps people manage risk," Dolan said. "And it's become all too clear that just plain old living can be risky business. 'What if?' is the question that many people are asking these days."

With that question, the AP observes, comes some unheard of changes in the life insurance business.

It usually takes a sales pitch to get people even to consider life insurance, since "people are reluctant to face up to their financial responsibility to their families," said Joseph Belth, professor emeritus of insurance at Indiana University's Kelley School of Business.

Another change: the age of those interested in life insurance. One agent told the AP that he's been getting requests from men in their 20s and 30s.

And though the attacks occurred on the East Coast, the rush for life insurance has spread far beyond it.

In St. Louis, interest in life insurance has spiked since Sept. 11, said Scott Stream, vice president of group benefits for The Daniel & Henry Co., which represents more than 60 insurance companies in Missouri and Illinois.

"We've actually run into a number of people who knew somebody or were involved with somebody that lives on the East Coast ... so that's had a sort of ripple effect," Stream said. "There's just a lot of emotions going on out there, day to day."

While some business insurance premiums may cost more since Sept. 11, Dolan said life insurance functions differently and may wind up costing less.

"The more people that are in the pool, the lower the cost," he said. "As opposed to the traditional economics, where when there's high demand the cost goes up, with life insurance it's sort of the other way around."

He said it's still too early to detect a trend toward lower premiums prices.

To view the Associated Press story, click here.


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