Frame Changin’: How Presence of a Child Impacts Provider Selection and Satisfaction in The Insurance Industry

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Joshua Morrill and Toni Gnewuch presented this paper at the Family Financial Security Symposium in April, 2010.   Their research confirmed that when it comes to insurance, people with children have different attitudes, preferences, and evaluations compared to people without children. These findings have implications for both academics, as well as practitioners.

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Social scientists have long demonstrated that our perceptions of the world are shaped by schemas, a set of beliefs about people, events or situations that we use as guides in our interactions (i.e., Cohen, 1981; Tversky & Kahneman, 1974).  Schemas allow us to process information quickly in order to decide whether to accept information and integrate it into our cognitive framework or to reject the information.

This process ultimately affect the choices and evaluations people make (Tversky & Kahnehman, 1981; Misra & Beatty, 1990; Schmidt and Hitchon, 1999).  As people move through various life stages, key events can modify the lens we use to judge relationships and create new schemas that we use to process incoming information.  This paper examines a specific subgroup within insurance: people who have children.  The majority of this group consists of couples with kids, a segment comprising over 40% of US households (US Census, 2007).  Primary research data shows how the transition from having no children to having children constitutes a potential shift in how this group reacts to and interprets insurance information. Understanding this new frame will ultimately have strong implications for how and what to market to this potentially lucrative insurance group.

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