Suzanne Stevens, Deputy CEO at BrightRock
With August being Women’s Month, I thought it a good idea to highlight the importance of women having life insurance.
This is not because women need life cover more than men; the fact is that everyone needs to be adequately covered according to their own unique circumstances. However, industry statistics show that more men have long-term insurance than women. This is also reflected in BrightRock’s own figures, with women making up around 41% of our client base. Bearing this figure in mind, here’s a reminder of why women need life cover at every stage of their lives.
When we’re young, we feel like we’re invincible. Why would we need life cover when we have few assets, no dependents, and are healthy? To a certain extent, it’s true. When entering the workforce, most people only really require enough life insurance to settle their debts and pay for their funeral. But where the real need comes in is with disability insurance. The most important thing women need to protect at this stage is their ability to earn an income; they still have a lifetime of pay cheques ahead of them and they need to safeguard them. While young women may not be as likely to suffer from a critical illness like cancer, they could still be in an accident, for example, which may impact their future earning potential.
For working women with families, in addition to ensuring they have disability cover, they also need to prioritise death cover. When women have financial dependants, they need to make provisions for those they leave behind should they pass away. Critical illness cover is key here too, as the likelihood of diseases increases with age, and unexpected costs may arise.
Stay-at-home mothers may not think that they need life cover, because they don’t earn an income. However, something that is often overlooked is the importance of temporary disability or impairment insurance. Should a stay-at-home mom become ill or injured and be unable to look after her children for a while, it could result in unexpected expenses for the family, such as the cost of day care or a transport service. Temporary cover would help to bridge this gap. As in the case with working moms, cover for critical illness is also key, again for those additional expenses associated with an illness or injury.
It’s vital that single mothers have comprehensive life insurance, to cover their family for all eventualities. Death, disability, and severe illness are all critical.
For working women in their 30s and 40s with no children or significant other, their focus should be on disability and critical illness. While they may think that, because they don’t have any dependants, they don’t really need life insurance, these women still have to protect their ability to earn an income. An amount of death cover will always be needed as well for those final expenses associated with passing away, like the cost of a funeral and any taxes that may be due.
Moving on up
The general assumption around age and life insurance is that the older you get, the more death cover you need. However, the opposite is true. Usually, as people get older, their financial liabilities tend to decrease. You need less death cover as well as less disability cover as you have fewer pay cheques left to protect. What should go up for women in this life stage, though, is critical illness cover. Good health becomes far less of a certainty and cancers, heart problems and other diseases become more common.
The golden years
Once women reach retirement age and start living from their retirement savings, they no longer need disability cover, as they are no longer actively earning an income. Critical illness insurance continues to remain a high priority in the golden years, as declining health becomes more likely. Death cover is only relevant here for funeral costs and death-bed expenses.
From the above, it should be evident that, just like men, women’s life insurance needs will keep changing throughout their lives. It is in their best interests, then, to have cover that changes with them, so that they derive the maximum benefit out of what they are paying for their life insurance.