National Consumers League

Too many households neglecting life insurance


By Sally Greenberg, NCL Executive Director A recent industry review of Americans purchasing life insurance showed a startling trend: the number of American households with life insurance was at its lowest in 50 years.  The drop in insurance is tied directly to the economic downturn, Today only 44 percent of households have an individual life insurance policy, and 30 percent have no individual- or employer-provided life insurance. The study was done by LIMRA, an industry life insurance think-tank and research arm. The study found that 11 million households with children younger than 18, which are the families with the greatest need for coverage, have no life insurance. Life insurance is part of a social safety net. It protects surviving spouses and children when the sole breadwinner or other income earners in a family dies. Ironically, the cost of life insurance has dropped over the past several decades. A 35-year-old healthy male can purchase life insurance for $25 a month for a 20-year-term policy that would pay $500,000 upon his death, according to statistics from ING. But nevertheless in tough economic times, life insurance seems like a luxury. In truth it is not. It is a necessity for all working families trying to watch out for unforeseen events. Insurance companies need to do outreach, to let consumers know that term life insurance is affordable. But insurance companies need also to guarantee that premiums and fees will be reasonable and that consumers can make a good investment without fearing they will be ripped off in any way. This is an area of great concern: ensuring that consumers are taking advantage of relatively inexpensive life insurance to protect their families in the event that they will no longer be around. The life insurance industry has a lot of work to do to get the word out – and to work closely with consumers so that they can understand the critical importance a good solid life insurance policy can have on protecting the interests of American families.