I hope this doesn't come off as arrogant, but a simple fact of my life is this: My family - as smart and capable as my husband and children are - would not function highly without me.

This isn't to say that they haven't done just fine when left on their own for several days while I'm on business trips - they have. But did everything get done as well as it would have with me around? No. Upon my return, there were piles of laundry to do, appointments were missed, my daughter's hair was a mess, and they mostly ate takeout every day. They all were alive and healthy (obviously, the most important things), but it lets me know that I shouldn't shortchange the important role I play in our home.

I thought of this when I read this month's cover story about the yawning gender gap in life insurance purchasing patterns. In the report (page 25), Managing Editor Andrea Davis writes that in 2010, almost six out of 10 women owned some sort of life insurance, according to LIMRA. While that's on par with men's life insurance ownership, women's coverage is only about 69% of men's. Findings from a MetLife report further reveal that women are less insured, with only twice their income in life insurance coverage compared to men, who are covered for nearly three times their earnings. Still, women make up about half of the U.S. workforce and increasingly are becoming the breadwinners of their families. So, what gives?

Susan Combs, president of Combs & Company, tells EBN, "It's weird, because if you talk to a lot of women, they will say their primary concern is their family," but that despite the strides women have made in the workplace, "there's still that mindset ... that husbands are taking care of this."

In addition, women tend to shortchange the dollar value of the work they do as part of the "second shift" (that's the cooking, laundry doing, hair braiding, etc., that women do outside of their jobs.) According to Penn Mutual's third annual Worth for Women Survey, women estimated their value at home at around $25,000 a year. However, when Penn Mutual calculated the actual median value of services, a woman's contribution to the home was $34,256. Moreover, 36% of women underestimated their value by at least $30,000.

"We often see evidence that women underestimate their value to their families, with serious or tragic consequences when that work has to be replaced by outsiders after the untimely death of a wife or mother," says Tracy Marrocco, director of women's marketing for Penn Mutual.

Davis' story offers insights from insurance, psychology and workplace experts to help you craft a strategy to better communicate with female employees about the importance of adequate life insurance. I also encourage benefit practitioners to lead by example - regardless of their gender - and examine whether their current life insurance coverage meets their family's needs.

Send letters, queries and story ideas to Editor-in-Chief Kelley M. Butler at kelley.butler@sourcemedia.com.

Register or login for access to this item and much more

All Employee Benefit News becomes archived within a week of it being published

Community members receive:
  • All recent and archived articles
  • Conference offers and updates
  • A full menu of enewsletter options
  • Web seminars, white papers, ebooks

Don't have an account? Register for Free Unlimited Access