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Life Insurance for Women: Coverage and Considerations Explained

A woman's unexpected death could put a severe financial strain on those depending on her for income or care. According to the Life Insurance and Market Research Association (LIMRA), at least 44% of women – about 54 million females - feel they need life insurance or to increase an existing policy. However, women are less likely to hold a policy than men. A lack of confidence in buying coverage keeps many women from securing the income protection they need.

Key takeaways:

This article explores how life insurance, especially for women, can provide peace of mind for you and your family.

The gap in life insurance coverage for women

The gap in pay among genders is well documented, but women also face a gap in life insurance coverage. This can put families at a grave disadvantage when a female loved one dies unexpectedly with no coverage in place.

Misconceptions about insurance costs

The Life Insurance and Market Research Association (LIMRA) 2023 Insurance Barometer Study reported that perceived cost is the major reason people neglect to buy coverage. At least 46% of mothers with minor children believe they need life insurance but haven’t bought it because they think it’s too expensive. However, LIMRA found that 55% of female consumers overestimate life insurance costs by triple the actual price.

Life insurance isn't a top priority

Raising a family and working are often the top priorities for women, so purchasing life insurance isn't at the top of the "to-do" list. Some women believe they're too young to start planning for their loved ones' lives without them.

If you are young and healthy, you typically can qualify for lower rates on life insurance. Policy premiums will increase with each passing year you wait, and unexpected illness could disqualify you from more affordable coverage options.

How much coverage does a woman need?

It’s difficult to say precisely how much life insurance women need. If a woman is the sole income earner, she would need more insurance to cover household expenses in the event of her death. To get an estimate of what your beneficiaries would need, calculate outstanding debts such as a mortgage, property taxes, loans, and the cost of running the household, such as maintenance, general upkeep, and emergency repairs.

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Family needs

Consider what your partner or dependents need to live comfortably in your absence. If you are supporting or expect to support children or parents, life insurance can give you and your survivors peace of mind.

Life insurance can help survivors handle situations like taking time off work to grieve and establish new family routines. Your children may need childcare, or a parent may require caregiving services. Ideally, your policy could allow your family to adjust without financial worries.

Final expenses

Many women want at least enough life insurance to cover their funeral and burial expenses, which can cost an average of $7,848 (LIMRA estimate). You might also want to add extra coverage with riders for children, critical illness, disability income, or accidental death. If you own a business, life insurance may also provide income to keep it running.

Why women buy life insurance

The 2022 LIMRA study also listed the following as the reasons women purchase life insurance:

  • To cover burial and final expenses
  • To replace lost income or supplement retirement income
  • To leave an inheritance or charitable gift
  • To help pay off mortgage or estate taxes

Life insurance as an investment

Women who want to combine income protection with a savings vehicle may want to purchase a permanent life insurance policy. Unlike term policies that expire after a certain time period, permanent policies last a lifetime, as long as premiums are paid. This type of coverage can help women build cash value, which they can borrow against while they are alive.

Employer-based life insurance for women

In many cases, women can obtain basic group life insurance through their job at little or no cost. While it's often a minimal policy, some employers offer an option to purchase additional coverage. The employer owns the policy, and when an employee dies, the beneficiaries are paid.

Workplace life insurance usually does not require a medical exam or deny coverage for any reason. You can often apply when you get hired or during an open enrollment period with your employer.

When is it too late to buy life insurance?

Women can apply for life insurance at any age. However, a variety of factors can make obtaining a policy a challenge. Seniors can purchase life insurance; however, it will likely be more costly than a policy obtained at an earlier age.

Non-smoking women with no significant health issues can expect to purchase a policy with low premiums. Some insurers may require a medical exam or a physician statement of health.

Women who need income protection may want to consider having life insurance to cover the unexpected. While it is an expense, coverage may not cost as much as you think. Life insurance can be an ultimate demonstration of your love, concern, and provision for your loved ones who may find themselves unexpectedly living without you.

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