The national dialogue about working women over the past two years has focused on how women can climb the corporate ladder while supporting their families.
The conversation has been productive, encouraging women to continue making inroads in their careers and advocating for support, but it has overlooked a crucial discussion topic: how they’re protecting their income.
Fostering a conversation about income protection
Today, in many households across the country, women have added another role to a list that also may include mother or wife — breadwinner. Four in 10 households with children under age 18 have a woman as the sole or primary wage earner, a recent study released by Pew Research Center found.
What this statistic doesn’t show is that many of these women who are keeping their families afloat financially might not have the proper financial safety net in place should something unexpected happen to them.
And that’s where you can help. May is Disability Insurance Awareness Month, which is a great time to check in with clients as you prepare for summer enrollment meetings. As you do this, consider how you can position ancillary products, such as disability insurance, as income protection and a crucial piece of financial planning.
A limited safety net
No matter the age of female employees in your client’s workforce, there’s a great likelihood that many are spread thin financially.
According to the U.S. Department of Labor, 74 percent of single mothers with children under age 18 were working in 2013, as were 67 percent of married mothers with children under 18. However, many women in today’s workforce, especially those in the sandwich generation of baby boomers and Generation X, are becoming increasingly responsible for their aging parents. Consider a recent study which found that one in seven middle-aged adults (15 percent) is providing financial support to both an aging parent and a child.
In addition to playing a larger role in supporting their families, many women in the millennial generation are putting money that could go to their savings toward student loans. The average debt for graduates of public or private colleges in 2013 was $28,400.
In your enrollment meetings, it’s important to help employees understand that having an income doesn’t necessarily mean a family is protected if a breadwinner were to face a disabling condition. Employees need to understand that, without disability insurance, their savings will need to cover financial gaps as well as everyday living expenses if they’re unable to work. However, as 68 percent of Americans say they have no savings earmarked for emergencies, this may not be a viable option.
Overcoming common disability misconceptions
In addition to relying on limited or modest savings, many women may believe a disability can’t happen to them. Part of your enrollment strategy should be to help educate them about the chances of disability. Here are some common misconceptions to raise in your enrollment meetings.