More than half of working women are very concerned about the financial security of their families in the event of their own premature death, according to MetLife Inc.’s eighth annual Employee Benefits Trends Study.
Although that percentage eclipses the percentage of concerned men, women are more likely to be underinsured than are their male counterparts. Especially in this economy, the ramifications of being underinsured for life insurance could be devastating.
As 51% of working women surveyed admit that they are living paycheck to paycheck, according to the same study, many have no savings to dip into in the event of an unexpected loss. While it may be challenging in this economy to discuss a family’s future when employees are focused on the present, it is important to address the following questions:
o How will family members survive if those stretched paychecks suddenly stop altogether? Life insurance is not simply a death benefit; it helps ensure that the family’s income continues.
o How can I assist in closing the life insurance underinsured gap? Producers, employers, and carriers each can play an instrumental role in helping employees obtain adequate life insurance coverage to better secure their financial safety nets.
Narrowing the Underinsured Gap
A growing number of dual-income and single-parent families depend on the income of working women. With the added responsibilities of raising a family and caring for aging parents, the need for adequate coverage in the event of premature death becomes even more apparent.
Yet despite their desire to protect loved ones, women are participating in group life insurance plans at significantly lower coverage amounts than are their male counterparts. According to the MetLife study, insured working women generally have less than three times their annual household income in coverage. Lack of sufficient coverage amounts may leave women’s dependents and beneficiaries in a financial bind in the event of a loss.
Important life events such as marriage, the birth of a child, and home ownership can lead women to realize that their financial needs may increase as their lives change. Unfortunately, these concerns do not always translate into action to obtain adequate life insurance.
Producers have an opportunity to help employers make a significant difference in bridging the underinsured gap. An increasing number of employees, including working women, rely on the workplace as the starting point for building a sound financial safety net. In fact, 68% of men and women say they obtain the majority of their financial protection products through the workplace, according to the MetLife study.
Many working women take advantage of an employer-provided basic life insurance benefit of one or two times their annual salary. The MetLife study suggests, however, they don’t give consideration to supplementing that benefit with additional coverage through the workplace. By educating working women about the value of life insurance, employers can help them to provide financial protection for their beneficiaries to maintain their current standard of living and continue saving toward their futures.