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Yet another gender gap: key facts about women in 3 infographics

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If you’re a loyal reader of LifeHealthPro, then you’re likely aware of a gender gap — actually, multiple ones — in the market for insurance and financial services.

Lest your memory is in need of refreshing, here are some examples from industry surveys we’ve reported on in this space:

  • Women (by a ratio of 3 to 2) lack confidence in, or don’t understand, their retirement income plan (Franklin Templeton Investments survey).

  • More than 6 in 10 Canadians believe the financial services industry gives preferential treatment to male clients and takes men more seriously than women in financial engagements (BMO Wealth Management).

  • Women earn about one-fourth less in salaries and wages than men. Among African-American women, the compensation gap is 30 percent (American Association of Individual Investors); and

  • Women are under-represented in life insurers’ C-suites and among insurance and financial service professionals in the field (Mercer).

Now comes word of — surprise! — a gender gap in life insurance coverage. The purveyor of this unhappy news: ConsumerAffairs.

The consumer news and advocacy organization reports that just 4 in 10 women in the U.S. own a life insurance policy. And, on average, women have $129,800 of individual life insurance, as compared to $187,100 among men.

The organization also reported that coverage among all U.S. households isn’t much better: just 62 percent. And among those who do own a policy, more than 40 percent think they don’t have enough.

To be sure, the gender gap in policy ownership and coverage amounts has long been a not-so-dirty little industry secret. Back in 2010, MetLife reported that married women with minor children have on average only three times their annual household income in coverage. This compares to 5 times annual household income among married men with minor children.

The results of an earlier MetLife survey, the Employee Benefit Trends, were even more dismal. In 2008, female employees who had life insurance owned only two times their household income in coverage. That compared to three times income for male employees with life insurance.

Clearly, the industry has its work cut out if it hopes to reduce, if not eliminate, the above-referenced gender differences. Until that happens, women and their surviving family members will remain more vulnerable than men to unexpected financial crises resulting from death, disability or outliving retirement savings.

On the following pages are infographics, provided courtesy of ConsumerAffairs, recapping key insurance coverage and financial statistics about women. To learn more, read on.

Most — 70 percent — U.S. households with children under 18 would have trouble meeting everyday living expenses within a few months if a primary wage earner were to die. That could be bad news for the 40 percent of homes where moms are the primary breadwinner in their family, and the more than 60 percent where the mother brings home at least 25 percent of the family’s earnings.

In 2014, the U.S. had 5.2 million stay-at-home moms. If compensated for their services (cooking, cleaning, caring for their children, etc.) ConsumerAffairs says they would earn (conservatively) $117,000 per years. Also, working moms provide an additional $71,860 per year worth of services. 

More than 8 in 10 (83 percent) of single parents are single mothers. Yet, 70 percent of single parents don’t have life insurance. Another sobering fact: 800,000 people are widowed each year in the U.S.