Almost no consumers who are married, partnered or have dependents have enough life insurance to replace their income, according to a survey by Nationwide Financial released Monday.
Ninety-eight percent of consumers who have a partner or dependents do not have enough insurance to replace their lifetime income, Nationwide says. The average consumer surveyed will earn $1.5 million in a lifetime and has $300,000 in life insurance coverage.
“Too many Americans make the mistake of assuming that simply providing what may appear to be a large lump sum of money for their beneficiaries will be enough to protect them,” says Eric Henderson, senior vice president of life insurance and annuities for Nationwide Financial. “Instead, they should think about how much of their income the insurance money will replace. If it doesn’t replace a high percentage of it, their family faces the risk of financial disruption or a reduced standard of living.”
The average life insurance policy currently replaces 16 percent of the income the insured person will earn before retirement, even though 33 percent of those surveyed say their most important consideration when purchasing life insurance was replacing their income.
Consumers say they are willing to pay $99 per month on average to insure their family, Nationwide says. For this amount, a healthy 35-year-old man can purchase a 20-year term life policy worth more than $2.3 million. A healthy 35-year-old woman can purchase more than $2.6 million in coverage for this amount.
“A lack of understanding of the true cost of life insurance may be part of the reason for such widespread consumer inaction,” says Henderson. Only 29 percent of those surveyed believe they can afford enough life insurance to replace their income.
Two-thirds of those who have life insurance are somewhat or very certain they have enough insurance to replace the income they or their spouse or partner would make during the remainder of their working careers. However, when asked how long their family could maintain its standard of living if a breadwinner died, 62 percent say they either don't know, or think they could do so for just four years or less.
Thirty-five percent of those surveyed worked with an insurance agent or financial advisor to figure out how much life insurance coverage they need, but 20 percent say they simply guessed how much coverage they need.
The survey included 1,163 Americans ages 24 to 66, who are married, have a partner or dependents, who are not retired, and who have incomes of $24,000 a year or more.