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5 reasons women need life insurance more than men do

Mediafeed logo Mediafeed 11/19/2018 Emma Johnson
a person sitting at a desk: Woman Working© DepositPhotos.com Woman Working

Women need life insurance more than men do, yet we are less likely to be covered. 

According to the Life Insurance Marketing and Research Association, 56 percent of women and 62 percent of men had life insurance coverage in 2016 — down from 57 percent but up from 61 percent, respectively, six years prior. 

Why is that? According to LIMRA, women presume that because men tend to earn more than them, and because in homes with children, the man may be the primary breadwinner, he should be covered. Among millennials, more than four in 10 think that they wouldn’t qualify anyway. This is a rate two times greater than any other age group. (I debunk these myths below, don’t worry!). 

So, why should women and moms prioritize health insurance no matter their family status or earning? Read on!

1. Women live longer than men

This is old news: Women outlive men. This is true in every country in the world. In the United States, male life expectancy is 73.4 years, while female life expectancy is 80.1 years. This is a difference of 6.7 years. 

Men — including those with young children living at home — die earlier than women. The reasons include more dangerous jobs, higher suicide rates (the reasons are many and complex) and higher propensity for risk.

Biology means that men are more susceptible to fatal disease, as well as less likely than women to seek out medical care.

2. Woman are more likely to be a primary custodian/parent to children

When fathers die, their wives, partners and exes are left fully responsible for the care of any children or other dependents. Because of divorce and separation, 27 percent of fathers live away from their children’s primary residence, a recent Pew study found. In military families, fathers are more likely than mothers to be deployed. Fathers are also more likely to be incarcerated than mothers. 

In all of these scenarios, mothers are not only the primary caregiver to the children, but also their primary financial provider. Even in cases where child support is mandated by courts, less than 40 percent is actually received by the custodian parent. The average sum last year was less than $400. 

In other words: While we may be working on more equality between moms and dads (both in terms of financial and logistical care of kids), the fact remains that if you are a mom, you are likely to be primarily (if not solely) responsible for your kids. A full financial plan includes life insurance.

3. Women are more likely to be the caregiver to aging or sick loved ones

Historically, and around the world, women have taken on the role of caregiver of aging and ill adults in the family. 

The number of men taking on this role in the United States has risen dramatically in recent years, but women still care for the dependent more than men.

4. Women may soon be more likely to be the breadwinner in married families

While women are the breadwinners by a landslide in single-parent families, this may soon also be the norm for families with partnered parents. 

A full quarter of wives in heterosexual marriages make more than their husbands. This figure has been on the rise for decades and is expected to keep climbing as women gain more power in the workforce and government. Meanwhile, men struggle with a higher rate of unemployment.

5. Life insurance is less expensive for women

Because women are less likely to die than men, life insurance coverage is cheaper for us. That means fewer excuses not to buy it!

Questions you may have about life insurance

Do I need life insurance if I'm a full-time, stay-at-home mom?

Women with little to no income often mistakenly believe that life insurance is not for them. The reality is that all moms need life insurance if their kids are still in school or college. 

If you are a stay-at-home mom who is married to a high earner, your contribution to the family still has a monetary value that would need to be replaced if you died. Should you pass away, there will be more need for childcare, house cleaning, errand running, food preparation, transporting kids and other uncompensated tasks. 

Further, as noted above, while you may not be earning a salary today, or your income may be low, that does not mean that you will not one day be a primary breadwinner for your family — even if you continue to enjoy a long marriage. 

Not only can you start working again and build a full career for which your income (and the lifestyle it affords your family) exceeds your husband's, but you also may be forced to work to support the whole household. 

After all, men are more likely than women to become unemployed (because of various factors, including that recent downsizing trends affect male-dominated industries more). Your partner may also become disabled, fall ill or otherwise be unable to work. 

In all of these scenarios, the family begins to depend on mom’s income. These hypothetical situations may happen in the future, and the sooner you buy life insurance, the cheaper it usually is. The premiums go up alongside your age.

How much life insurance do I need?

This is the most common question about life insurance. 

Here is a quick and dirty formula: Most moms can multiply their income by three to get the amount they'd need. For example, if you are a 40-year-old woman earning $50,000 per year at your job, buy a term policy with a $750,000 payout. Of course, there are many variables, including how much you have left on your mortgage, whether you want to fund your kids’ college, the age of your kids (the younger they are, the more insurance you may want to buy) and whether you are responsible for an aged or sick loved one.

A life insurance agent can help you find the right answer and the right policy.

Should I buy term or whole life insurance?

This is the second-most common life insurance question! Term life insurance is straightforward and usually more affordable. For example, one 30-year policy might include a payout of $1 million for $600 per year.

Whole life insurance premiums are much higher, but the coverage lasts a lifetime and the policy has cash value,. It also has a guaranteed rate of investment return on part of the premiums (this rate is almost always lower than investing what you would typically earn over a long period by investing in a diversified stock portfolio). 

Long story short: Term life is the easiest, most affordable way moms can buy the life insurance their families need.

Women can apply these lessons to all of their personal finance needs.

This article originally appeared on WealthySingleMommy.com and was syndicated by MediaFeed.org.

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