Many workers who have employer-sponsored group life insurance need help with buying more coverage.[@@]

MetLife Inc., New York, and Principal Financial Group Inc., Des Moines, Iowa, have mapped out the gaps in workers’ life insurance protection in reports on 2 recent surveys released as part of September Life Insurance Awareness Month activities.

Researchers who surveyed 1,541 adult U.S. residents in August for MetLife found that only 51% of full-time workers with children or other dependents feel that they have enough life insurance.

Only 55% of participants say they have made any conscious effort to assess their families’ life insurance needs, and even survey participants who have an obvious need for life insurance are going bare: 18% of the participants who have bought homes in the previous 18 months have no life insurance, and 32% of the participants who have had babies during that period lack life insurance.

The researchers who conducted the Principal survey, which focused on workers at small and midsize U.S. companies, found that 73% say their employers offer life insurance benefits but that only half understand the importance of life insurance benefits.

When participants were asked about the life insurance advisory services that might be helpful to them, 47% said an “explanation of what the benefit covers,” and 27% said they wanted a “financial plan outlining all the steps in the process.”

The Principal survey results show there’s “an opportunity for the insurance industry to reach out to employees and help them to learn more about individual coverage that can supplement what their employer offers,” Jerry Patterson, Principal’s chief marketing officer, says in a statement about the results.

Tony Trani, vice president of life products management at MetLife, also talks about the importance of workers getting advice about individual life insurance and other financial matters.

“Through MetLife research, we know that people are living paycheck to paycheck,” Trani says in a statement issued by MetLife. “They may be concentrating on immediate bills, but that can be shortsighted. If money is tight now, what will families do if that paycheck is no longer there?”