Large families, unmarried parents, women and those with common health concerns are susceptible to insurance coverage gaps that could leave them financially shorthanded, says a recent industry study.     

Entitled Getting Over the Gap: Insights on Life Insurance Coverage in the U.S., Genworth Financial Inc.'s  new study focuses on four major consumer groups that it contends are facing the largest life insurance coverage gaps and stand to benefit the most from an insurance review. The groups include unmarried parents, large families, women and those with certain common health conditions. Genworth's paper is based on key insights from its  2012 LifeJacket Study.

Life insurance may appear to be an expensive luxury for those with large families, say Genworth officials. The pattern of either or both parents lacking life insurance is more pronounced in lower-income and larger families, the study says.

"Consumers often believe life insurance costs nearly three times its actual price, and this is a major contributor to the large coverage gap we’re seeing in these four groups,” Brian Bulakites, vice president and national sales manager for life insurance at Genworth, said in a statement. "We’re working to close these gaps by educating consumers on the importance of a good insurance policy."

Genworth's study also examines the differences between married and unmarried parents, and says that unmarried parents are significantly less likely to have life insurance than their married counterparts, despite their clear need for coverage. The research also indicates that 59 percent of unmarried women are without insurance, compared with 43 percent of those who are married. For fathers, this gap is even larger, with 69 percent of unmarried fathers not having the coverage.

Genworth’s study also found that women have less life insurance coverage than men, although they often play an important financial role in their families. In fact, 43 percent of married mothers lack life insurance, compared with just 34 percent of married fathers. With the majority of working wives expected to earn more than their husbands in the next generation, it’s important that women have the right amount and type of life insurance to help keep supporting their loved ones even after they’re gone.

Genworth Financial's white paper also concluded that many consumers believe the best time to buy life insurance is when they’re in optimal health. But affordable life insurance coverage is becoming more accessible for those who have been diagnosed with certain health conditions, thanks to advanced underwriting practices. In fact, many commonly diagnosed health issues – like asthma and depression – are no longer barriers to receiving preferred rates on life insurance, which is helping financial professionals close the gap for this group.

Genworth's LifeJacket Study of the uninsured in America was conducted in collaboration with independent third-party research firms J&K Solutions and Ruf Strategic Solutions. More than 25,000 adults ages 18 and up across the U.S. were surveyed.

Richmond, Va.-based Genworth Financial Inc. is an insurance holding company whose offerings include life insurance, long-term care insurance, financial protection coverages and independent advisor-based wealth management.