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Women buying higher levels of coverage than in years past, but still lag men in life insurance ownership

Insurance Forums Staff

More women go completely without life insurance than men, and despite women who are buying coverage obtaining greater amounts today than in years past, women remain dramatically more underinsured than men.

These are among the key findings in a new LIMRA study, Life Insurance Ownership in Focus, U.S. Person-Level Trends: 2016, released on Nov. 16. LIMRA also points out that agents continue to have a great opportunity to educate women about the true cost of coverage, and that women are more inclined to listen to and rely on an agent’s “soft skills” when it comes to understanding coverage options.

Only 56% percent of American women have life insurance coverage, according to the study. This represents a 1 percentage point decline from 2010 and remains well below the men’s life insurance ownership rate of 62%.

“Our research has consistently found that women are less likely to have life insurance coverage than men,” said James Scanlon, research director, LIMRA Insurance Research. “But in today’s economy more American families rely on women’s income and resources to be financially secure. According to Pew Research, 60% of today’s households with children under 18 are dual-income compared to just 25% in 19601. The fact that fewer women have any coverage at all and often times are well under-insured leaves many American families at risk if they should die prematurely.”

A positive trend the study highlights is the amount of coverage women purchase has increased nearly 21% since 2010. Unfortunately, it isn’t enough as they still continue to trail behind men’s coverage ($206,357 – men; $160,782 – women).

The study also shows more women now recognize their current life insurance coverage wouldn’t be sufficient for their families if they were to die. In 2016, 49% of women say they need more life insurance coverage. Despite believing they are under-insured, few say they will actually increase their coverage within the next 12 months. According to the research, only 44% of women say they plan to buy more life insurance within the next 12 months.

One of the top reasons women give for not purchasing the life insurance coverage they need is a lack of affordability. However, financial professionals can dispel this concern. Since prior LIMRA research found people often overestimate the cost of life insurance, financial professionals can conduct a needs analysis and provide a realistic cost estimate.

“Effectively connecting with women and men require different approaches,” noted Scanlon. “While both sexes are positively influenced by the trust they have in their financial professional, prior LIMRA research finds women tend to be more deliberate than men when making the decision to buy life insurance. Women are inclined to put more weight on an advisor’s soft skills than men. A financial professional who takes the time to listen, educate and explain products and how they fit into a buyer’s overall financial strategy will likely be more successful selling to women.”

The 2016 U.S. Ownership study surveyed more than 4,000 American households in the first quarter of 2016. The results are weighted to represent U.S. population.

1 – The Rise in Dual Income Households (2015), Pew

About LIMRA:Since 1916, LIMRA, a worldwide research, learning and development organization, has been the trusted source of industry knowledge, helping more than 850 insurance and financial services companies in 64 countries. To learn more about LIMRA’s 100th Anniversary Celebration, please visit www.limra.com/100years



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