On March 31, 1776, Abigail Adams wrote a letter to her husband John, urging him and the other members of the Continental Congress not to forget about the nation’s women when fighting for America’s independence from Great Britain.
In honor of Women’s History Month, I have a similar request for life insurers: Remember that women, too, must be considered when selling life insurance. Not only do they need coverage personally, they also serve as a key influencer for the purchase of life insurance by their spouses. And they do most of the research as well.
Though women have made great strides in the 237 years since the future First Lady wrote her letter, they still lag in life insurance ownership, according to Wholesaleinsurance.net. When we look at women like Marissa Mayer, Sheryl Sandberg, Michelle Obama, Sonia Sotomayor, Melissa Harris-Perry and Sarah Palin, it’s easy to forget how far women have journeyed to win their equal rights. These powerful women may make it look easy, but there are plenty of reminders that we’ll have to continue to row a little harder to get to Utopia.
The hard truth is, life insurance ownership among women has not kept pace with the times. Just last year, women comprised 49 percent of the workforce — an all-time high — yet 43 percent had absolutely no life insurance.
More women now work outside the home than ever before, but they rarely take the time to protect the financial value they provide. Though 27 percent of wives are breadwinners, millions of families rely solely on the male’s life insurance policy and fail to recognize that the family’s finances could be devastated without her income. The majority of homes are now two-income households, and both income-earners need coverage.
It is a fact that both men and women have far less insurance than they need. LIMRA, a leading financial research institution, recommends $459,000 of life insurance — roughly $300,000 more than the average policy face amount. However, women trail men in the amount of life insurance they carry. The average female policy provides $129,800 in coverage — 31 percent less than the average male policy.
And far too many families underestimate the economic value of stay-at-home moms, leaving them out of the life insurance discussion completely. Whether the wife works outside the home or not, it’s important that she’s covered. One estimate puts the cost of full-time childcare at $31,000 annually. Another estimates the value of a full-time mother equivalent to a $150,000 job.
My hope is not to sound overly negative, but to highlight the importance of this information. Even the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is now reporting that women’s longevity is not growing at the same pace as men’s. Women have long outlived men, and the latest numbers show the average life span for a baby girl born today is 81. For a baby boy, it’s 76. But the gap is narrowing.
See also: Women closing retirement gap with men