Why Women Need Life Insurance — and What to Do About It

by Meg Favreau on 24 April 2013 (4 comments)

There are certain things that I always assumed I’d automatically have control of once I became an adult. Like knowing how to apply liquid eyeliner without a shaking hand. Or getting my car washed regularly.  Or buying life insurance.

But even though I am firmly in adulthood, it regularly takes me three or four tries to apply good-looking eyeliner, my car is currently covered in a layer of grime, and, well…I do not have life insurance.

Recent research has shown that, even though women make up 49% of the workforce, they’re also consistently under-covered when it comes to life insurance — only 43% of working women have it, and their average policy only covers about $129,800, according to this article from Yahoo!

That figure might seem like a lot (I know I’d be stoked to have an extra $129k), but when you discover that the recommended coverage is 7 to 10 times the amount of your annual salary, that figure starts to seem pretty small. To get a better idea of how much coverage you need, check out this worksheet guide:

Genworth Coverage

But telling you that having life insurance is a good idea doesn’t really explain why you need it, does it? The Yahoo! article also discusses three great reasons to get covered.

It Replaces Your Income to Help Your Family in a Time of Need

This is the most obvious reason to get life insurance — if your income helps support you, your children, and your partner, having a policy ensures that, if anything ever happens to you, they continue to receive that financial support. Not only does this help with the day-to-day aspects of your family budget, but this money can also help cover funeral expenses and associated costs. And, as this article on being financially prepared if tragedy strikes explains — you don’t want your family worrying about how they’re going to pay for these things when they’re already going through a difficult loss.

It Can Help Cover Work You Do as a Stay-at-Home Mom

Life insurance does more than just cover your income — it can provide a financial safety net for the work you do as well. If you’re a stay-at-home mom, you know that what you do is just as important to your family’s welfare as working outside of the home (and, often, with longer hours and more taxing tasks — carrying around a tantruming two-year-old isn’t easy!).

You might think that because you don’t pull a salary, though, that you don’t need life insurance coverage. While none of us like thinking about the worst-case scenario, if something did happen to you, having life insurance would provide your partner financial support during a difficult time — support that he or she could use to do things like hire childcare or take time off work.

Even If You’re Single, It Can Help Protect People You Care About

There are two categories of single women who should consider life insurance — those who are caring for their aging parents (or another dependent, like a sibling), and people with a high debt load — especially if that loan is co-signed. Normally, when you die, the executor of your estate will sell off whatever he or she can to help pay for your debt, and the rest is forgiven. But if you have co-signer on that loan, all of that debt load is transferred to the co-signer.

If neither of these cases applies to you, however, you’re likely fine to put off purchasing a policy (and putting that money towards something like an emergency fund or retirement account instead). That said, it is also often less expensive to buy a policy when you’re younger than when you’re older.

What You Can Do

The first step, as with any major purchase, is to do your research. Check out our article on how and why to buy life insurance, which provides an overview of the different types of life insurance.

Before you a make a purchase, though, talk to your HR department. You might already have life insurance coverage — some employers offer a certain amount of coverage for free, automatically, with the option to purchase more.

If you’re not covered at work, search online for a policy, or ask a friend or family member if they have an insurance agent they trust who can answer any questions you may have.

Do you have life insurance? Why or why not?

This article was made possible by the support and inspiration from Genworth Financial, a S&P 500 insurance company with more than $100 billion in assets. Check out Genworth's website for more information about how to buy life insurance.

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Guest's picture
Kathy

I'm single.... guess I could leave it to my cat? He would just founder himself on cat treats.

Guest's picture

I feel like everyone needs life insurance, man or woman, and the statistics of how many women don't apply to have it is very surprising and disappointing! It isn't something that should be taken lightly and people should take it more seriously because it could come in handy someday.

Guest's picture

The article left out an important category of single women, single mothers.

According to the U.S. Census,
- 17 million kids live only with their mother
- 1/3 of all single mothers have no life insurance
- most of the other two-thirds are underinsured.

A major impediment to single mothers owning life insurance, surveys have found, is that they think life insurance is way more expensive than it actually is.

The solution to that is to go look at real rates. You can easily check out the cost of term life using an online term insurance quoting engine. (You can find one at Quality Term Life's website that is fast and easy to use.)

Guest's picture

You said it best in your article - most people who buy life insurance don't keep up with their payments. Their policy is gone within a few years. If you want to buy life insurance, make sure you pay your premiums, otherwise, all the money stays in the insurers pockets and none makes it into your's!