it’s time to close the life insurance gender gap

And now a word from a sponsor…

You probably know about the gender pay gap – but did you know there’s a gender gap on life insurance too?

While 58% of men have life insurance coverage, only 47% of women do.1 But women are just as likely to need coverage.

If you have people in your life who rely on you for their well-being – spouse, kids, or others – you generally need life insurance. Life insurance payouts can be used to help pay the mortgage, debts, child care, future college tuition, and the many other day-to-day expenses families have.

What’s more, coverage is usually more affordable for women (because statistically women live longer and are more likely to live past an insurance policy’s term length). For example, the average monthly cost of a 20-year term life insurance policy with a $500,000 death benefit for a healthy non-smoking 35-year-old woman is $25.23. The average cost of that same policy for a healthy non-smoking 35-year-old man is $30.03 a month.2

And even if you have some life insurance through work, employer-provided policies often aren’t enough to provide the full coverage your dependents usually need. Typically they provide only one to two times your annual salary – so if you make, say, $70,000, your beneficiary would receive $70,000 – $140,000 … which can run out quickly if you help provide for  a spouse and kids. (Experts usually suggest getting coverage that equals five to 10 times your salary.)

One misconception women sometimes have is that you can’t apply for insurance while you’re pregnant – but you can. In fact, it’s often smarter to do it then instead of waiting, in case you develop any conditions during or after pregnancy, such as gestational diabetes, that can make it harder to get a good rate. (That said, even if you do have health issues, qualified independent insurance brokers – who work with multiple insurance companies rather than just one – can often help you get a better rate.)

If you don’t yet have enough life insurance coverage in place, one company to consider is Bestow, which is using technology to make affordable term life insurance more approachable and accessible. Bestow offers the only 100% digital (no physical exam needed) way to apply for and buy term life insurance policies up to $1.5 million. That means that what used to take weeks can now be done entirely online in as little as five minutes.

Buying coverage sooner rather than later could help you get a more affordable rate, since the cost generally goes up each year that you get older. Additionally, most term life insurance policies offer “guaranteed level premiums,” which means you lock in that pricing for the duration of your coverage.

Visit Bestow today to get a quote. You can apply online and, if approved, start coverage immediately.

This post is sponsored by Bestow. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

1 According to the 2021 Insurance Barometer Study by insurance industry groups Life Happens and LIMRA.

2 From https://www.forbes.com/advisor/life-insurance/what-women-should-know/

Posted in Uncategorized

{ 45 comments… read them below }

  1. Jubilance*

    Thank you for touching on the “you can’t get life insurance while you’re pregnant” thing – I actually went through the process while we were trying to conceive, and learned I was pregnant while in the middle of the process, and it didn’t impact my ability to get coverage or my rate at all.

    1. Pop*

      Getting life insurance was originally on the end of my to do list while I was pregnant, until I realized that if I discovered a medical condition and or gained pregnancy weight, my rates would go up. I was able to move up my timeline and get coverage early in my second trimester, before I gained any weight. Definitely recommend taking care of it early in the pregnancy process.

    2. Meredith*

      I’m still salty I have a higher premium than my husband because we went through the application process when I was around 10-11 weeks pregnant, so of course all my labwork was wonky. I had high cholesterol – due to pregnancy, it’s a thing! – but it didn’t matter.

  2. NewYork*

    Agree, Alison, this is important. I would add, people should set up and check their account at http://www.SSA.gov. It should not take more than 10 minutes, but you would need your 2019 tax return (after November, they will update to use 2020 return) SSA.Gov will tell you how much earnings you are credited with for social security and what your survivor benefits would be. If you were to die, and you are employed (or in some cases were employed), your children (or their guardian) would get benefits. IMHO, it is a good idea to check your account every year to make certain earnings credited. If you are not an employee, but are self employed, you should get benefit too.

  3. Metadata minion*

    If you don’t have a spouse or dependents, it’s still a good idea to get even a very minimal policy, since dealing with death is really expensive even if you don’t want a big funeral and fancy casket :-/

    1. Dust Bunny*

      Yeah, I have a modest plan through my job. I don’t have immediate family of my own but my brother is the beneficiary since he’ll have to deal with all this if I predecease him.

    2. A Genuine Scientician*

      My brother and I were both single and had no children, so we set each other up as the beneficiaries on our life insurance policies that we had cost-free through our employers.

      We were still in our 30s when he was killed (still with neither of us having spouses nor dependents). Due to the circumstances of the death, his insurance ended up paying out a little over 3x his annual salary … which equated to about 5.5x mine (he was an economist, I’m a biologist, so salary structures are a bit different).

      That has been, quite frankly, a life-changing amount of money. It’s given me tremendous freedom to consider things like where I want to live, knowing that if push came to shove, as long as my income can meet my bills, having invested that insurance payout essentially guarantees a retirement. (I’m saving anyway, but it’s no longer truly essential).

    3. L*

      This depends on your financial situation of course. If you have plenty of savings and have your beneficiaries set up in your accounts, and you don’t have any dependents and are just looking to cover funeral costs… there may be no need for life insurance.

      And in general, be careful with what you get. A lot of life insurance salesmen are scam artists.

    4. TardyTardis*

      Somehow, I ended up with more life insurance than my husband, courtesy of the term insurance I took out while in the Air Force (his current health conditions make it impossible to add anything more for him).

  4. DataGirl*

    For parents/grandparents I highly recommend getting a life insurance policy for your children. People might find it a little creepy to think about their child dying, but that’s not the point. The point is that the younger the person is when the policy is purchased, the cheaper it is to maintain. I’m 45 and have a policy that my grandparents got for me as a child through Gerber Life and pay less than $6/month for it. I’ve even been able to borrow against it a couple times when things were really bad- the borrowed amount (a few thousand dollars each time) had to be paid back over a couple years but it really helped when dealing with periods of unemployment.

    1. Peterloo*

      I disagree. Insurance is about replacing income. Children don’t have any meaningful income. If you want to invest on behalf of your children, providing a safety net when they have financial problems, then open an investment account.

      1. Dream Jobbed*

        I agree to a degree, but when I was a financial planner I told a client they didn’t need the insurance on their children. They disagreed. The auto coverage they had in their plan for all dependents paid for their daughter’s funeral when she died shortly after birth.

        So yes, the biggest reason for insurance is to replace income and provide for dependents. But sometimes there are other reasons.

  5. Now not later*

    If you need convincing to obtain life insurance look no further than this past letter. A dad to two kids lost his wife and then lost his MIL who was providing free child care very close together. He almost lost his job because he didn’t have money to get to work. On a side note I have life insurance for myself for my husband’s benefit. He’s not going to be able to work much longer and I have one policy to pay off the home cover final expenses and another to add a regular income. It’s not huge amounts but it gives me peach of mind. His sister lost her husband and has gone to food banks a few times before moving to be near her kids. I don’t want that for her or anyone else but it’s a real issue. Really think about how your loved ones will survive without you. Money won’t make them happy but the lack of money can force them to make choices they don’t want to make.

    https://www.askamanager.org/2015/08/update-my-coworker-cant-afford-the-gas-to-get-to-work.html

    1. Epsilon Delta*

      Came here to say something similar. Even if you have a stay-at-home parent who doesn’t work, they still should have a life insurance policy because what they do at home is expensive to replace! Childcare being probably the most expensive and most obvious example, but also housework.

      1. 10Isee*

        How do you estate the amount? Alison said around 5-10x your annual income, but what’s the right amount for a stay at home parent?

        1. Epsilon Delta*

          I’m not a financial planner, but if it were me, I’d either match what the working spouse’s policy is, or estimate the cost of childcare and probably double or triple it (to account for the possibility of hiring a housekeeper and/or eating more prepared food for some time).

        2. Lynn*

          I would think of it in terms of “replacement cost” ie how much would all the things that person does cost to hire on a marketplace which would depend on # and age of children

        3. TardyTardis*

          Same as for the income-earning spouse. Replacing the functions of a stay at home parent is waay more expensive than people might think.

  6. Melanie*

    I was denied life insurance for being honest about my postpartum depression nearly two years prior. I wonder how often that happens.

    1. Gretchen Wiener*

      I have depression and get denied each time I try. I guess I just can’t be insured…ever? Kind of stinks as I’m a better risk since I get medication and therapy v someone who doesn’t get treatment for it.

      1. Calyx Teren*

        Both Aetna and Cigna consistently deny coverage for anyone who’s been treated for depression, even if it is in complete remission due to said treatment and even when there are no other health issues revealed in a physical exam. Though if you react badly to Vicodin (not addiction, just illness) after a sprained knee, that is also considered a cause for denial of coverage.

      2. Virginia Mae with Bestow*

        Hi there! Unfortunately, not everyone is able to find a policy match with us, but we’re working hard to expand coverage. Our vision is a world where no family struggles financially after the death of a loved one. Please give us a call at 833-300-0603 and our customer care team would be happy to speak with you further!

    2. Anon-mama*

      Wait, that’s a thing? My husband has a policy on me through his work, and it didn’t involve any questionnaire. If we add/change coverage elsewhere, that’s something to consider.

      1. hightechburrito*

        It’s probably not a very large policy if they didn’t have any questionnaire. My work’s plan caps a spouse’s life insurance at like 50k without a medical exam and/or questionnaire.

    3. R*

      Yeah, I’m uninsurable due to depression and because I have to say I talked to a doctor about alcohol abuse (once, five years ago, and have successfully cut back to a much healthier level, but if I’d never said a word about it I might be insurable).

  7. many bells down*

    It’s not my gender that’s preventing me from having life insurance, it’s my congenital heart defect. I’m uninsurable unless my employer will give me a very small policy.

  8. Former Retail Lifer*

    I can only get the basic life insurance my job offers. I can’t get any more from any other provider due to having thyroid cancer. I’m not worried about my funeral expenses but I’m worried about my spouse not having enough money without a second income.

  9. Tuckerman*

    Definitely wish I had done this before cancer at 36! Fortunately I purchased supplemental life insurance through work before my diagnosis, so while it’s not enough coverage, it’s better than just having the basic life insurance my employer provides.

  10. Sled dog mama*

    My husband and I have policies on each other. He’s a stay at home dad.
    The policy on him is enough to cover funeral expenses, pay off our house and allow me to hire a full-time Nanny for at least 6 months while I figure out how to be a single parent. The policy on me is similar but dollar amount would allow him to hire a full time nanny for minimum a year as he gets back into the work force, provide living expenses for a year and cover some tuition if he needed to take classes.

    1. Mr. Tyzik*

      My husband is a stay at home dad as well and retiring soon. I have a life insurance policy through to pay off the house and cover a year of salary, but more is always beneficial. I tried to get a quote but it got stuck loading; I think we broke the system.

      1. Virginia Mae with Bestow*

        Hi Mr. Tyzik! I’m sorry to hear you were experiencing a loading issue on our website. Everything appears to be working now – please try again at https://www.bestow.com/quote. Our customer care team is available to answer any questions at 833-300-0603!

  11. TootsNYC*

    One of the products that exists (not sure if this company has it, though) is first-to-die insurance.
    That’s what we got when we were younger; it was less expensive than having two policies, and more than having one. And it meant that we were both covered.

    also–get life insurance while you’re young, before health problems have popped up, and while the price is still low.

    1. TootsNYC*

      Money was tight for us; we decided to get a policy that covered paying off the house.
      Now I kind of wish we’d gotten a larger amount back when we were young. But we didn’t view it as a “make you rich after I die” amount; we wanted a “wipe out the big debt, and give you some breathing room while you figure it out.”

  12. MI Dawn*

    I’m divorced, and currently only have life insurance through my employer. It’s enough to cover my debts. I want to donate my body to science, so no funeral costs.

    And as an FYI…if you’re divorced and were married more than 10 years, the spouse with the lessor earnings (typically wife but may be husband if they were a SAHD) can claim the social security amount the higher-wage-earning spouse will get when they retire. Since I was a part-time employee for several years when I was at school, and ALWAYS made less than my spouse, I will be doing that when I retire. My SSA will be reasonable, his is still better. There are hoops to jump through (you have to wait until the spouse retires, for example) but your claiming it does not affect their or their current spouse’s benefits.

    1. LTL*

      I debated saying anything since this is quite nitpicky, but a wife may still very well earn more than her husband if they both work.

  13. BaltosHaus*

    Heads up Bestow will not cover you if you’ve EVER had a mental health diagnosis (even if you are no longer actively treated for that, even if that diagnosis was 20+ years ago, even if you’ve never been hospitalized, etc).

    I wish they were more clear on the website who they do and do not provide coverage for.

    I do agree that more women need life insurance. I wish there were also more conversations around how life insurance companies effectively box out people who’ve struggled with mental health issues.

    1. Virginia Mae with Bestow*

      Unfortunately, not everyone is able to find a policy match with us, but we’re working hard to expand coverage. We encourage each individual to apply to see if they’re eligible with us, as many factors go into each decision. Applying only takes about 5 minutes, it won’t affect your credit score, and we never share your information. Please reach out to our customer care team at 833-300-0603 (M-F, 8am-6pm CT) for additional support!

    2. Case of the Mondays*

      Since most policies exclude suicide, I don’t see why the exclude people with mental illness. I’m not more likely to get cancer.

  14. La Triviata*

    OK, this is grim, but be wary if your ex takes out a large insurance policy on your (shared) child. There was a case in Maryland where a man did this and then killed the child for the insurance. And, if I remember correctly, had done it before to a child from a different mother. Like I said – grim – but do be careful. And it would only be for a large insurance pay-out. Sorry for the downer.

  15. Dream Jobbed*

    Please don’t forget ALL you dependents. My best friend (and very very trusted friend) is the beneficiary of a $100,000 policy on me. With (currently, number will go down over time) 9 pets, this provides a $10,000 cash payout for each, plus some money for getting them where they need to go. In all honesty she will probably keep three of the dogs (one is spoken for), but she and my other dog friend are deathly allergic to the 5 cats so there’s a list that she can start calling. (No one on the list knows about the money. They have to be willing to take care of them without considering the money.) Obviously a trustworthy is incredibly important, but a well-written trust can do the same thing. And in general, remember to “leave” your pets to someone in your will. They are considered property and a bad person can end up with them if you are not careful. (And if you don’t have a will, get off your fanny and do one!)

  16. Nancy Hammond*

    Anyone who has anyone besides themselves dependent on their income, needs as much life insurance as they can afford. If you are young and healthy it doesn’t cost that much. If this particular sponsor’s plan doesn’t suit, please shop around. My sister, a single parent, was diagnosed with colon cancer at age 41. Fortunately, she is fine and the kids are now grown, but I was horrified to learn after the fact that she only had minimal life insurance through her job.

  17. Chubby Reader*

    When I lost my job due to COVID this year, I also lost my company-paid life insurance. Sadly, I have been unable to find an affordable policy. why? Same reason Bestow just gave me “Sorry but your BMI is outside our parameters.”

  18. L*

    Keep in mind if you don’t have dependents, you may not need life insurance, and saving/investing that money may be a better idea.

    Also, in general, make sure you ask a lot of questions if you’re buying life insurance – in particular, if someone is telling you to buy whole life insurance. Think about whether you really need it and whether it’s the best option for you. Term can be a much better option for a lot of people.

    There are a lot of life insurance and annuity “deals” out there that are really unnecessary and overpriced.

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