Women as primary wage earners

By , Posted on 29 May 2013

women as primary wage earners and life insuranceOh, yes, she can bring home the bacon. Four out of 10 mothers are now the top-earners in their families, according to a new Pew Research Center report that reveals epic changes in traditional gender roles.

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"The number of married mothers who out-earn their husbands has nearly quadrupled, from 4 percent in 1960 to 15 percent in 2011. Single mothers, who are sole providers for their families, have tripled in number, from 7 to 25 percent in the same period," according to the Washington Post's brief on the report.

But, with all due respect to Enjoli, these stats highlight why the "24-hour woman" needs more than an "8-hour fragrance." It is especially important for mothers who work outside the home -- and critical for single mothers -- to have a financial strategy in place that includes life and health insurance.

Recent research by the life insurance advocacy group LIMRA showed that one-third of single mothers who are primary wage earners in their families had no life insurance coverage. And among single moms with life insurance, two-thirds reported they didn't have enough coverage.

Thirty-nine percent of single moms say if they died, their families would be in financial trouble immediately, and another 33 percent say their families would be able to get by for only several months, according to 2011 research by LIMRA.

Many people -- not just female breadwinners -- make the mistake of thinking they are adequately protected because they have life insurance through work. Typically, those policies are for small amounts -- in some cases just one year's salary. Evaluate how much your family would need if you died and get life insurance quotes from highly rated insurers.

Another bit of advice: don't be scared of the cost. Affordable life insurance is easier to come by than you might think. A 20-year, $250,000 level-term life policy for a healthy 30-year-old costs about $150 a year -- less than three bucks a week, according to LIMRA.

You should also read the fine print if you have disability coverage through work, and talk to a financial adviser to get additional coverage if necessary. Typically, employer-sponsored disability benefits provide just 60 percent of your base income if you become disabled and can't work. Bonuses and commissions are not counted as part of the base, and if the employer pays the premium, the income from the insurance coverage is taxable. That's often not enough coverage for families.

Our past coverage provides many details on how to secure sufficient life and health insurance coverage, so take a look.

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Des Toups

Des Toups

Managing editor

Des Toups is a writer, editor and expert on insurance, cars and personal finance. He has written extensively about all three for national publications such as MSN and major newspapers such as the Seattle Times. He has been quoted about insurance issues in The New York Times, USA Today and Kiplinger's.

Email: dtoups@quinstreet.com

Follow him on Twitter @destoups

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