Are you inadvertently putting your loved ones in danger?
Millions of Americans lack enough—or even any—life insurance. Are you one of them?
A recent study revealed that life insurance ownership recently hit a 50-year low—and that 35 million households don’t have any life insurance at all. This means that the death of an income earner could be as financially catastrophic as it is sad.
Behind this trend is a serious misperception about how much life insurance really costs. On average, people think it’s three times more expensive than it really is. (In reality, life insurance has never been more affordable.)
While anyone can lack an adequate amount of life insurance, seven groups are especially likely to be under- or uninsured. Here’s who they are and why they skimp on the life insurance they and their families need. (To get an idea of what you need, make sure to take our Fast and Easy Life Insurance Quiz!)
1. Single parents
Single parents often go uninsured because they think that buying life insurance requires a big output of time and money—two things they have in short supply.
“Single parents tend to be extremely busy since they’re singlehandedly balancing work and family,” says Greg Wieser, director of strategic marketing at Erie Insurance. “And without that second income, money is often stretched tight.” This creates a classic case of penny wise, pound foolish; while they’re saving money in the short term, they’re running the risk that their kids would have no means of support if they were gone.
2. Parents who both work
When both parents work, the parent making less money often discounts his or her contribution to the family. This is especially true when one parent works part time in order to hold down the home front. “There are many things a lesser earning spouse does that have no dollar value associated with them, like cooking or child care,” says Wieser. “If something happened to that person, the surviving spouse often has to hire extra help or take on extra work to make up the lost income.”
3. Stay-at-home moms (or dads)
Research shows that a stay-at-home parent contributes $112,962 annually in the form of child care, cleaning, home maintenance, transportation, cooking and more to the family’s bottom line. These are costs that a life insurance policy—not a surviving parent—should cover if a stay-at-home partner passes away prematurely.
“If a person dies and there’s no life insurance to pay off the mortgage, the surviving family members may be forced to move,” explains Wieser. It’s hard enough to lose a loved one—you certainly don’t want your family to also lose their home, their school district and their neighborhood because there’s no life insurance policy in place.
5. Business owners
“New business owners often forgo life insurance because they think they don’t have enough money available,” says Wieser. Or a business may have had enough insurance, but has since grown. “A more established business usually needs higher limits to be adequately insured and have a plan in place to guarantee succession of the business,” Wieser says. Life insurance and a buy-sell agreement will let the show go on if one partner dies.
6. People with a history of minor health issues
Many people confuse life insurance with health insurance. “They think they won’t be eligible if they have high blood pressure or high cholesterol,” says Wieser. “If your health concerns do not affect your mortality, you can still get life insurance at a reasonable rate.”
7. People whose employer provides group life insurance
This group often has a false sense of security. While they have coverage, it often isn’t enough. “A typical group life benefit is two times your annual salary, but you may need more like six to eight times your salary just to break even,” says Wieser. Also, employers can (and do) terminate group life insurance benefits. (This is especially common during a sluggish economy.) Another downside is the fact that you lose this coverage when you leave your employer.
Even if you don’t fall within any of these groups, you and your family could still lack the life insurance you need. To find out what your needs might be, take our Fast and Easy Life Insurance Quiz. (And remember that your local ERIE Insurance Agent is always there to answer all your insurance questions!)