Recession to blame for Gen Xers life insurance gap

Generation Xers are emerging as the most severely underinsured generation, reporting an average gap between life insurance coverage and insurance needs of nearly $450,000. And the gap has gotten much wider in the last five years.

Such is the conclusion to be drawn from two surveys of more than 1,000 individuals each, both designed to measure how much insurance respondents had and how much they thought their needs would be.

The data overall supported the stark reality that most Americans face a growing gap between their coverage and needs — $320,000 on average. Although Gen Xers had the most yawning gap, millennials reported an average gap of $370,000 and baby boomers $267,000.

New York Life essentially combined the results of two studies — one in 2008, one this year — to compare coverage before and after the recession.

The resulting report, the Life Insurance Gap survey, stated that the recession was largely to blame for a 35 percent decline in Gen Xer life insurance coverage from 2008 to 2013.

The decline in coverage and a reported increase in financial needs led to the gap’s increasing from 48 percent in 2008 to 63 percent today for Gen Xers.

“The gap impacts more than half (56 percent) of Gen Xers, and less than one in five (19 percent) stated they have enough life insurance to cover everything they expect their insurance to pay for,” the survey said.

While the gap has increased for the other generations studied, the Gen X gap was the most troubling, since this generation will soon be facing the multiple expenses of college educations, parental care, an uncertain health insurance marketplace, as well as saving for retirement and long term care for themselves.

“Gen Xers have been severely impacted by the economic downturn and the Gap is a clear indication of what is at risk. Gen Xers, who may be focused on financial obligations that have to do with their children, their home, planning for retirement, and maybe even taking care of their elderly parents, are lacking a foundation of financial protection that life insurance provides,” said Chris Blunt, president of the Insurance Group, New York Life.

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