A white paper released by Genworth Financial expressed concern that as families trim their budgets, they may be cutting away important purchases that they shouldn’t do without. More than half of adults—118 million people—don’t have life insurance, the paper found.
According to the paper, “Getting Over the Gap: Insights on Life Insurance Coverage in the U.S.,” which is based on data collected in Genworth’s 2012 LifeJacket Study, even people who have life insurance may not have enough. The study found the average policy provides a death benefit of $152,000, down $3,000 since last year. The paper noted, “that’s just a few years of income replacement.”
The paper identified four groups that should look into their insurance needs and make sure they have adequate coverage: unmarried parents, women, large families and people with common health problems, like asthma or depression.
Despite natural caregiving tendencies found in many women, and despite the fact that many women outearn their husbands and male counterparts, they are less likely to have their insurance needs covered. According to the paper, 49% of married women without children don’t have insurance, compared with 44% of men. Among married people with children, 43% of women don’t have insurance, compared with 34% of men.
On average, married mothers have $169,000 in coverage, compared with $215,000 for married fathers.
The paper referred to research from LIMRA found that women are less likely to have insurance even when they have high levels of income; those with $100,000 or more in annual income are less likely to have insurance than men at the same income level.
While married couples had low levels of coverage, unmarried couples were even more likely to need more insurance. The study found 59% of unmarried mothers don’t have life insurance compared with 43% of married women. Unmarried fathers are even more likely to not have coverage: 69% of unmarried men don’t have life insurance compared with 34% of married men.
Those gaps were large even when respondents had steady income. Sixty percent of unmarried fathers who brought home between $50,000 and $250,000 didn’t have insurance, compared with 27% of married fathers. The gap was smaller among mothers: 46% for unmarried mothers and 37% for married.
When low income and multiple kids at home were combined, the gap between parents with insurance and without nearly doubled. A little over half of parents who make between $50,000 and $250,000 and have five or more children at home have insurance. For parents with five or more children, but who make less than $50,000, just 36% have insurance. The paper acknowledged that busy parents on tight budgets likely see insurance as “an expensive luxury.” However, the 2012 Insurance Barometer Study by LIMRA and the LIFE Foundation found consumers usually overestimate the price of insurance by three times.
The paper acknowledged that young people in good health will likely get the best rates, but said that having a health condition doesn’t preclude someone from getting coverage. The paper found many respondents may not understand exactly how their condition affects their coverage. More than 13 million men who responded to the survey said they had high cholesterol, yet just 36% were uninsured. Among men with the far less common asthma, 56% are uninsured. In fact, asthma was the least common condition reported in the survey, but the most likely to prevent men from purchasing insurance.
Among women, hypertension and high cholesterol were the most common conditions, with more than 12 million respondents reporting they were sufferers, and 43% were uninsured. Depression and anxiety were slightly less common, but 53% of women with those conditions were uninsured.
The 2012 LifeJacket Study was conducted over 15 months. J&K Solutions and Ruf Strategic Solutions surveyed more than 25,000 adults in the United States.