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Life insurance for women
You're a pillar of your family, and a policy can protect them if something happens to you.
Life insurance can help make sure your family is taken care of if you die unexpectedly. But only 56% of women have a policy, compared to 66% of men, according to LIMRA’s Life Insurance Barometer Study.
What's in this guide?
Should women buy life insurance?
There are a few key reasons why women may need life insurance:
- It can protect your family financially. Women are increasingly becoming major financial players and breadwinners in their families. If you have loved ones relying on your income, a policy can replace your income if you pass away prematurely.
- Your time is valuable. If money isn’t how you support your family, that doesn’t make your contributions any less valuable. Part-time and stay-at-home moms contribute significantly to the family finances. If you pass away or become unable to work, your family will need to hire help to cover everything you do now, including cleaning, childcare, cooking and any other unpaid household work.
- It can help to care for aging parents. Many women are caregivers for elderly family members, like their parents. If you die, your policy can help those people to pay for their living expenses and maintain their lifestyles.
- It can become an investment. If you’re interested in treating your life insurance policy as an investment, a permanent policy builds cash value over time — and you can borrow against it once you’ve accumulated enough.
- Women have unique health concerns. While women tend to live longer than men on average, certain health problems are a bigger deal. For example, women are less likely to recover after a heart attack and are significantly more likely to be diagnosed with certain cancers, such as breast cancer or cervical cancer.
Do I need life insurance if my spouse already has it?
It’s a good idea to get life insurance regardless of whether or not your spouse is insured. If something happens to you, your spouse would be responsible for paying all of the bills and handling the home without your help, which can be costly. Consider taking out a joint policy to protect you both.
Can I get life insurance if I’m pregnant?
Possibly, but it depends on your current health. If you’re in your second or third trimester or are experiencing complications such as gestational diabetes or pre-eclampsia, you’ll likely be quoted higher rates or denied coverage until after you have the baby.
How much does life insurance cost for women?
Since women have a longer average life expectancy than men, they pay less for coverage. But the actual rate you’ll pay will come down to a range of factors, including your age, health, family medical history, driving record, occupation and lifestyle.
Life insurance options for women
If you’re ready to purchase a policy, these are the main types to choose from:
- Term life insurance. The cheapest and simplest policy, term life insurance offers protection for a set period of time — like 10, 15 or 20 years. The premiums stay the same for the life of the policy, and your beneficiaries will receive a guaranteed death benefit if you die during the term.
- Permanent life insurance. Whole, universal and variable life insurance offer lifelong coverage. They also have an investment component, whereby a portion of your premiums are invested to give your policy a cash value. Once you’ve built up enough cash value, you can start taking loans out against your policy to fund large purchases — like college tuition or a home remodel.
What term length should I choose?
If you opt for term life insurance, you’ll need to select a term length — aka how long your policy will last. Your options will vary based on your insurer, but the typical terms range from 1 to 35 years.
The best length for you comes down to your budget and financial needs. To crunch the numbers, look at your longest financial obligation — and then try to take out a policy that lasts as long.
For example, if you’re a parent to young children, you might buy a 15-year policy to carry your kids through college. Or, if you have a 20-year mortgage, you could purchase a 20-year policy. That way, your family won’t be burdened with the repayments if you die before paying off the house.
How much life insurance coverage do women need?
Everyone’s situation is different and you should reflect on your own circumstances and needs before purchasing life insurance coverage. Things to consider when deciding how much coverage to take out include:
- How much you owe on long-term financial commitments such as a mortgage, car loans, student debt and credit card debt.
- The cost of feeding, clothing, caring for and educating any kids who are dependent on you.
- Your current household income compared with your bills, accommodation costs, food and essential day-to-day expenses.
- Funeral expenses.
- Whether or not you’d like to leave an inheritance behind for anyone.
An easy way to calculate your coverage amount is to add up your income, assets and outstanding debt — and then take out a policy to match.
Compare life insurance companies
Women tend to be underinsured
In terms of life insurance, the disparity between men and women is increasing over time. A recent Gender, Roles and Life Insurance Survey conducted by Haven Life found that 67% of women have life insurance — compared to 79% of men. Of the participants who owned an individual policy, women had an average of $231,342 in coverage, while men held $423,102.
These findings imply that women put a lower financial value on their lives than men, and point to a gender gap in life insurance purchases.
When comparing policies, keep these tips in mind:
- Understand how parental leave can impact cover. Income protection insurance may require you to be working at the time of the incident in order to qualify for coverage. Check with your provider to find out how you’re covered for birth-related injuries or incidents that happen while you’re on parental leave.
- Make sure you’re not over or underinsured. Use a calculator to work out how much coverage you really need.
- Consider adding a child rider. If you have children, you may be eligible to add a child rider to your policy. This pays out a lump sum if something happens to your child so that you can focus on being with them or grieving instead of worrying about finances.
- Read the fine print. Find out exactly what’s covered before signing up for any policy.
Women still lag behind men when it comes to life insurance, despite the fact that it’s just as important for women to be insured — and it’s cheaper. If you have a family or assets to protect or outstanding debt to your name, compare life insurance companies to find one that fits your needs.
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