In the days following Kobe Bryant’s tragic death in a helicopter crash, fans all over the world mourned the NBA all-star’s death. And some were also motivated to protect their own families if something terrible happened to them.
The volume of life insurance application requests and submissions spiked in the days after the 41-year-old’s death on Jan. 26, 2020, according to True Blue Life Insurance, an online aggregator and comparison site for life insurance.
Application requests jumped by 50% on the Tuesday after Bryant’s death, 52% on Wednesday, and 55% on Thursday, while the volume of submitted applications increased by 58% on Sunday, Jan. 26 — the same day as the crash — and 61% on Monday. The spike subsided to normal levels within a week.
“One of the main triggers when people buy life insurance is someone they know passes away,” said Brian Greenberg, founder and CEO True Blue Life Insurance. “In a lot of the phone calls to our agents, Kobe came up.”
‘Anything can happen to anybody’
Jen Plisch, a sales agent with the company for four years, recalled that several people mentioned Bryant in the week after his death while signing up for insurance. One, in particular, stood out to her.
A mother of six children called in, telling Pilsch she had been meaning to get life insurance on everyone in her family, but kept procrastinating. But Bryant’s death triggered the woman, who’s in her early 30s, to finally do it. She bought policies for herself, her husband, and each of her children.
“A lot of times [life insurance] is on the back burner until something happens,” Pilsch said, adding that the NBA legend’s death “got people thinking that anything can happen to anybody.”
January is traditionally the busiest time of the year for True Blue, Greenberg said. People often have conversations with family during the holidays where death and life insurance comes up. Many make resolutions to look into buying a policy in the new year, he said.
Bryant’s passing accelerated many of those plans.
“I think he was so well-known, so well-liked and he was young with children. It’s just a similarity effect,” Greenberg said. “It’s not like Kobe Bryant needed life insurance.”
Usually people are motivated after someone they know passes suddenly and they don’t have life insurance. They may set up a GoFundMe campaign to pay for the funeral or other ongoing financial burdens, Greenberg said.
One of Bryant’s many lasting legacies could be helping families avoid that fate.
“We’ve never seen a spike like we did with Kobe,” Greenberg said of other celebrity deaths. “We called it the Kobe Bryant effect.”