Parenthood a missed life insurance opportunity

Though marriage is a catalyst for working men and women to obtain life insurance, a new study shows parents aren’t adjusting their life insurance coverage when they have children.

A MetLife study finds about half of single working men and women without minor children have some amount of life insurance, a percentage that climbs to 72 percent for married workers without minor children but increases just marginally, to 75 percent, for married couples with youngsters.

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MetLife’s 10th Annual Employee Benefits Trends Study found that workers both with or without minor children have only about three times their annual household income covered by life insurance. But the company warns that the number and age of dependents need to be taken into consideration when determining the amount of coverage needed.

Stephen Pontecorvo, vice president, group life products at MetLife, insists couples need to adjust their policies as soon as children arrive.

“Life insurance can ensure plans for a child’s future remain secure by providing funding for college and other necessities should a parent no longer be able to do so,” Pontecorvo says. “Getting more coverage is likely easier and less expensive than many people think. A healthy 35-year-old purchasing insurance through an employer may pay as little as a dollar a day—less than a cup of coffee in many places—for a half million dollars in term life insurance coverage.”

Tips for getting started:

MetLife says only about two out of five working parents with minor children feel “very confident” in their ability to make the right financial decisions for their family, which may help explain their inaction when it comes to life insurance protection. Pontecorvo offers these tips to get started:

•About three-quarters of employers offer some type of life insurance coverage so start at the workplace. Make sure you understand how much life insurance you can get at work and also whether you need a personal life insurance policy to supplement that coverage to meet your needs.

•There are many tools available to help calculate life insurance. Take advantage of these tools or others to help obtain an adequate amount of insurance.  

•About a third of parents with minor children don’t consult with anyone regarding their personal finances. There's no substitute for good advice, so don’t be afraid to ask for help.

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