The potential long-term viability of a company is a top concern for people considering buying life insurance, according to a study by J.D. Power released Friday.

"Life insurance, unlike other forms of insurance, is a very long-term purchase, and while traditional factors, such as price, definitely matter, the brand attribute with the biggest influence when purchasing is confidence in the long-term viability of the brand,” Robert M. Lajdziak, director of global insurance intelligence at J.D. Power, said in a statement.

“This creates challenges for younger brands or companies that have re-branded and are competing in a marketplace with companies such as New York Life, which just celebrated its 175th anniversary. Challenger brands need to differentiate themselves with tailored offerings, smart marketing and easy access,” Lajdziak said.

Two factors are prompting people to think about purchasing life insurance: the pandemic and a new federal tax code change that makes it possible for policyholders to build more cash value in their plans, J.D. Power added in the 2021 U.S. Life Insurance New Business Study, which was based on responses from 5,444 consumers who shopped for individual life insurance in the 12 months before June.

The study also found that a 30-year decline in the purchase of life insurance was reversed. Quote rates and buy rates for life insurance both increased four percentage in the 12 months leading up to June “as more customers have started seriously shopping for polices,” J.D. Power said in the study.

The largest life insurance companies, such as State Farm, Allstate, Prudential and New York Life, have upped their advertising game with jingles, tag lines, logos and celebrities that have become familiar to consumers. “Life insurers have been increasing their ad spend in recent years and trends in overall brand awareness clearly reflect those investments,” the study said.

An easy application process also is important to consumers. “Insurers with the highest overall customer satisfaction scores in the application process also have strong performance in the acquisition funnel. Speed of executing the policy is the most important component of the process,” J.D. Power said.

But price still is the biggest barrier to consumers actually making a purchase, the study said. “While brand perception is the top driver of purchase decisions, the number one barrier to purchasing a life insurance policy is price. In 2021, 38% of life insurance shoppers said did not make a purchase because it was too expensive, up from 28% in 2020.”