The life insurance industry in South Africa faces significant marketing battles on two key fronts. Like its counterparts in the developed world it must rehabilitate and protect its reputation to maintain the trust of its existing client base and historic target market. In addition to this considerable challenge it must also address the perceptions of the industry in the low-income market. While the basic concept and benefits of insurance may be familiar to some segments of that market through their experience with informal institutions, the industry needs to highlight the protection mechanisms inherent in formal insurance in order to enhance its perceived relative value. The challenge for the industry is perhaps greatest in the market segments that have no awareness of insurance or see no benefit in it. Here interventions by the industry to work with players such as the Financial Services Board to educate and reach potential consumers have important social implications as those who are beginning to emerge financially are often forced back into poverty when loss events occur. The good news is that levels of trust are unlikely to impair increased penetration of formal insurance product in the lower income market – and thus there is much opportunity to develop this market to the benefit of society and, of course, shareholders.