Addressing The Insurance Needs of Women

Caretakers, decision-makers—research has shown that women make most of the decisions in the home, including those that impact the family budget. When it comes to life insurance, LIMRA’s “Women and Life Insurance” study found that women see it as a sensible precaution, yet many have not taken the next step and made certain that they themselves have sufficient coverage. They are less likely than men to own life insurance and, if they are insured, have lower average coverage amounts than men.

It’s clear that women represent an underinsured demographic. And given that LIMRA’s “Insurance Barometer Study” showed that, in general, almost two-thirds of consumers prefer to purchase life insurance face-to-face with an insurance or financial professional, it’s essential that insurance companies and agents connect with this demographic and provide them with key facts and information to help them make an informed decision. Otherwise, they are not only an underinsured but also an under-served market.

“Women need to understand their own insurance and financial matters and how it truly works in their lives,” said Chandra Broadus, CSA, owner of Hutchins, Broadus & Associates, LLC, Euless, TX. “They have to understand that it’s important to buy life insurance, long term care insurance and critical illness insurance when they are healthy, with the goal of having the right insurance in place when they need it.”

But when it comes to marketing to women, a “one-size-fits-all” approach may not be the best choice. The marketing strategy and information must address their specific concerns and scenario, as well as take into account their financial situation.

Stay-At-Home or Working Mothers

Today’s typical family is anything but typical; while two-parent households still outnumber single-parent ones, census projections predicted that number to decrease. The 2009 American Community Survey (http://www.census.gov/acs/www/) reflected that 35 percent of women who gave birth in the last 12 months were widowed, divorced or never married. In 2010, there were 9.9 million single mothers. But even in two-parent households, mothers need to be insured, as the John Butcher story (from LIFE’s realLIFEstories collection) illustrates.

Strategies for reaching this group range from sending congratulation notes on the birth of a baby to doing presentations before women’s groups (both professional and social). Many insurance professionals use informative materials that use an anecdotal approach (such as LIFE’s Because She Loved Us and the Dennis Danduran story) to highlight how life insurance not only safeguards the children’s future but can help the remaining parent or guardian preserve the quality of life for the family left behind.

Working/Career Women

Employed women may recognize their value in the workplace, but when it comes to insurance, research shows that those in the middle to higher income bracket are less likely to carry adequate insurance, compared to their male counterparts. This group needs to be made aware of the important role they play in their family finances, especially if they are the main or sole wage earner.

As for women who either own or are partners in a business, life insurance is a critical component, since it can be structured to fund a buy/sell agreement or serve as key person insurance, giving the remaining owners the financial flexibility to either hire a replacement or work out an alternative arrangement.

LIFE’s Human Value Calculator takes a dollars-and-cents approach by assessing a woman’s financial value—both in terms of future financial contributions and the financial loss incurred should she die unexpectedly. Informative materials such as LIFE’s Life Insurance: What Women Need to Know and What Happens to Your Business When You Die? emphasize how life insurance can help replace the income when the breadwinner or business owner is gone.

Senior/Retired Women

It’s no secret that, given the economy and rising health care costs, the future can be less than bright for those heading into their golden years. And for those boomer women who are on their own, it can be even more financially challenging. While a 2011 LIMRA study noted that women in the 55-and-up age bracket averaged higher amounts of life insurance coverage than they did six years ago, that coverage was only 69 percent of the average coverage on men.

“Many women worry that they will outlive their retirement dollars or that the amount they have set aside won’t keep pace with the increased cost of living,” said Broadus. “They also have the most questions and receive the least answers, but are afraid of being taken advantage of or not receiving the best solution for their situation.”

For this group, Broadus has created Senior Health Solutions of Texas, an extension of her company that targets seniors in general and senior women in particular. “We specifically focus in on the retirement insurance and financial needs such as long term care, Medicare and annuities,” she said. “We do a retirement check-up to make sure that what they think they have is appropriate for them. We also remind them of related matters to consider such as ‘Do they have a current will? What plans do they have for their estate and other assets that their loved ones do not know about?’ We also remind them about free services that are available to them in their area. Some are related to their insurance and others are just services that are available through our local Human Services Department for the elderly, women and children.”

Her goal is to provide educational, objective information (using materials such as LIFE’s Think You No Longer Need Life Insurance? Think Again) that addresses the myths and misconceptions of this age group. She has found this approach “has definitely increased the number of meetings and applications.”

Single Women

While life insurance is traditionally considered a way to protect dependents such as children or provide financial resources for spouses, even single women without children may want to consider having a policy in place. Insurance proceeds can be a way to cover debts left behind so they don’t pass to family members, or provide financial support for aging parents or siblings.

And situations can change—an unmarried, healthy 25-year-old woman can become a married mother of three down the road. Buying a policy when age and health are in their favor is a wise decision. But even if they remain on their own, life insurance, especially a policy offering an accelerated death benefit, can provide the peace of mind that all women need.

The bottom line is that all women—regardless of their age, income level or marital status—need adequate life insurance. It’s up to insurance professionals to identify the underinsured and underserved women in their market area and educate them about the role life insurance plays in life and financial planning.

By Nancy Christie for July 2012 Issue of Broker World MAGAZINE. Author’s Bio Nancy  Christie is a freelance writer based in Ohio whose articles appear in national publications. Christie is working with The Life and Health Foundation for Education, a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping consumers make smart insurance decision, on this series of articles. Christie’s website is http://www.nancychristie.com. LIFE website: http://www.lifehappens.org.

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