More than 60% of women don’t have an insurance agent, compared with fewer than half (48.1%) of men, according to a new study from Zelros, a Paris-based insurtech with offices in Montreal and New York. The survey includes data from respondents in Canada, the U.S., U.K., France and Germany.
What’s more, 61% of women respondents said they didn’t know it was possible to take an insurance policy out on a loan, compared to 48.3% of men.
Looking to explain this gender gap in uptake of insurance brokerage services, Zelros suggests contributing factors could be a lack of women in executive roles, and subconscious bias leading insurers to target men more than women.
“Women historically have been discriminated against when it comes to financial literacy,” said Zelros’ chief growth officer Linh Ho. She noted that in the U.S., women were not universally able to open bank accounts until the 1960s and that the Equal Credit Opportunity Act wasn’t passed until 1974.
But the insurance industry can change, said an overwhelming majority of 208 Canadian insurance brokers who responded to a late 2021 Canadian Underwriter online survey, made possible with the support of Sovereign Insurance.
Fully 95% agreed with the statement ‘positive change is possible,’ on diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) at Canada’s insurance brokerage firms.
As for how to promote that change, 61% said ‘building a culture that champions diversity and inclusion,’ 38% advocated ‘offering formal diversity and inclusivity training and management programs,’ 34% saw value in ‘developing a diversity and inclusion hiring strategy,’ and 30% said firms should offer ‘formal unconscious bias training.’
To avoid these outcomes, respondents voiced support for creation of DEI committees and working groups (27%), adding DEI benchmarks to management’s key performance indicators (21%) and giving company leaders performance measures and incentives (20%).
Most brokers (72%) said they’ve seen their firm use at least one of these strategies to build a DEI-friendly workforce over the past year.
While 84% of brokers said their firms had diversity plans – and the number reaches 97% at firms with diverse leadership – 61% said responsibility for implementing those plans rests with leadership.
Only 12% said brokers or middle management drove DEI at their companies, and 11% said the push is coming from clients.