Women tend to underrate the monetary value of what they do in the home, which has serious consequences when trying to formulate the proper life insurance coverage. That was the finding and analysis from a survey sponsored by Penn Mutual Life Insurance Co.

Penn Mutual’s third annual “Worth for Women” survey asked men and women to put a dollar mark on the work they do outside of their jobs. Both men and women pegged the number at around $25,000 annually. However, when researchers looked at the actual hours the men and women said they spent doing home-based tasks such as child care, laundry and meal preparation, men overestimated their value by 13 percent, while the women undervalued their worth.

In fact, the median value of a women’s contribution to the home was $34,256 versus $19,322 for men. Further, the Penn Mutual researchers found that 52 percent of women underestimate their worth by at least $10,000 and another 36 percent were $30,000 off the mark.

These findings have important implications for women and their need for life insurance. In a release detailing the survey’s results, Tracy Marrocco, director of women’s marketing for Penn Mutual, stated, “As a life insurance company, we often see evidence that women underestimate their value to their families-with serious or tragic consequences when that work has to be replaced by outsiders after the untimely death of a wife or mother. Far too many families fail to account for this value, leaving women uninsured or under-insured.”

The survey also found that the median individual coverage amount for women was $100,000, below the $150,000 level for men.

Cynthia Tidwell, president and CEO of Royal Neighbors of America in Rock Island, Ill., agrees that coming up with a coverage number for a woman can be tricky since it goes beyond a paycheck. It involves getting them to realize the true value they bring to the family, something most women don’t think about.

“For women it needs to be broken down into the things in their life that are important to them,” she says. “If something happened to you and you were making this much money, your family could not do the things they are doing today.” That could mean putting children through college or keeping the family in their home.

Therefore, Tidwell says it’s paramount that women get some form of coverage. Advisors can then check back to see if their situation has changed and whether more coverage is needed.

For more on selling to women, see the June issue of Senior Market Advisor.

Maria Wood is the Managing Editor for Senior Market Advisor.