Hispanic Americans are less likely to carry life insurance than the average American, missing out on a key source of financial security.
Only 42% of Hispanics have a life insurance policy, below the U.S. average of 50%, according to a 2022 Insurance Barometer Study supplemental report from LIMRA and Life Happens. Even more concerning, that percentage has declined 13 points in the past 11 years.
Trust issues, language barriers, and cultural differences are among the reasons keeping Hispanics from getting life insurance, experts said, a critical cash infusion that could help close the wealth gap in the Hispanic community.
“Life insurance is something many people think about, but don’t act on, especially in the Hispanic community,” said Roselyn Sanchez, an actress, producer, and dancer who is partnering with Life Happens as its spokesperson for September’s Life Insurance Awareness Month.
“My daughter is 10 and I didn’t get life insurance until she was 2 years old when my business manager mentioned that I needed it as a parent to protect my daughter,” Sanchez told Yahoo Money. “There’s a lack of education in the Hispanic community around life insurance, but once I read and learned about it, I knew it was necessary.”
The report found that 27% of Hispanics are looking for a financial advisor, but only 2.7% of certified financial planners (CFP) are Hispanic. A lack of representation in the insurance and financial industry makes it harder to build trust.
“Life insurance can be an uncomfortable topic, especially if you don’t trust the person or have a language barrier, you’d rather not do it,” Sanchez said. “I have the luxury and blessing to potentially help use this platform, transmitting messages in English and Spanish.”
For instance, with Sanchez as spokesperson, Life Happens has made its “Life Insurance 101” and life insurance calculator resources available in Spanish on its website — El ABC de los seguros de vida.
Even when language barriers don’t exist, there are cultural differences between Hispanics — Afro-Latinos, Puerto Ricans, Dominicans, Mexicans, and Cubans, for instance — and the use of the terms Hispanic, Latino, or Latinx.
That means cultural awareness is key with only 21% of Hispanics feeling comfortable talking about life insurance and end-of-life planning, according to the 2022 Insurance Barometer Study by LIMRA and Life Happens.
“Hispanics can be very superstitious,” Sanchez said. “ ‘Are you paying for my funeral’ is what you’ll hear if you bring up a will.”
Outside of homeownership, Americans can generate and transfer wealth through life insurance policies. About two-thirds of the Hispanic wealth gap can be attributed to intergenerational transfers, such as inheritances, a 2021 McKinsey report found.
For Hispanics, 33% of household wealth is from home equity and 14% is business equity, according to the State of Hispanic Wealth Report by the Hispanic Wealth Project.
Hispanics “start more businesses per capita than any other racial or ethnic group in the United States….[and] the number of Latino-owned employer firms has grown by 12.5% annually, compared with 5.3% for White-owned employer firms,” a 2021 McKinsey report found.
But Hispanic-owned businesses were hit disproportionately hard during the pandemic, according to a 2020 McKinsey research study, while Hispanics were among the groups hit hardest by COVID deaths, further highlighting the need for life insurance.
“Hispanics are family-oriented. After the shock and loss of a loved one, life insurance is about a family being able to continue to pay for school or keep the family business,” Sanchez said. “Life insurance is an investment for your family, kids, and future.”
Ronda is a personal finance senior reporter for Yahoo Money and attorney with experience in law, insurance, education, and government. Follow her on Twitter @writesronda