With the number of Americans owning a life insurance policy on the decline, insurers will need to provide easily accessible, high-value solutions that engage customers and go beyond traditional products to be competitive, according to a joint study conducted by LIMRA and Boston Consulting Group (BCG).

The study pointed out that about 54% of U.S. adults own a group or individual life insurance policy, down 9 percentage points from 2011, and just 34% of millennials own individual life insurance policies.

The low numbers may be due to the fact that life insurer’s value proposition does not resonate the way it once did, the study said.

Conducted in February with more than 2,000 consumers, the study, "Extending the Life Insurance Value Proposition," found that 97% of Americans expressed interest in improving one aspect of their overall wellness. Three quarters of consumers indicated that they wanted to improve their exercise habits; six in 10 are interested in developing better sleep and eating habits; 58% want better diet and nutrition changes; and 41% are interested in mental-health practices such as meditation and journaling.

The survey responses suggest that life insurers will be more successful if they cater to consumers’ needs. And they have begun to do so, but not in a big enough way, the study said, which noted that one of the biggest steps insurers have taken has been to address financial wellness—an emerging area of insurance that includes financial counseling, financial literacy tools, and retirement planning.

Scott Kallenbach, senior director of LIMRA strategic and commercial research, said both life insurers and their customers benefit if customers are healthier. “If life insurers can provide incentives and support to help their policyholders eat better, exercise more and address mental and physical health challenges, it will undoubtedly improve their policyholders’ longevity,” he said in a statement. “What’s more, the additional data collected can help life insurers develop new products and services to better serve consumers in the future.”

The study said there is no one-size-fits-all solution to addressing Americans’ need for better health given the differences in demographic groups. Millennials (58%) are much more likely than baby boomers (20%) to say a lack of time keeps them from exercising. They also are more likely than boomers to cite cost as an impediment to improving their diets (56% versus 36%). For boomers, the primary barrier is a lack of motivation (50% to 38% of millennials). Sixteen percent also cited physical limitations compared to 31% of millennials.

The study suggests that insurers learn the different customer segments and identify the wellness interventions that would resonate with their target customers and help increase those customers’ longevity.

The study said subsidizing the cost of an exercise subscription service would be a smart strategy for a life insurer targeting time-strapped millennials. Also, an app for how to eat healthy while spending less would also resonate with millennials. And for a life insurer with an older customer base, the most appealing offer might be an app that focuses on overcoming physical limitations, perhaps through personalized classes, the study said.

One of the things life insurers stepping into the wellness space will have to do is to encourage their customers to share data with them so that they can do research to better understand know what might work best for their customer base, the report said.

While the survey showed that Americans are more protective of some personal information, such as health data and records, and genetics data, 87% of consumers indicated that they are willing to share their health data with life insurers if there is some sort of incentive, usually a lower premium. They, however, cautioned that they want to be assured that their health data would not be used to increase premiums and only used to benefit the consumer.

In adopting wellness offerings, the study recommends that advisors improve customer engagement, mobilize the distribution network and develop new wellness capabilities.