Couples Underestimate Life Insurance Coverage Needs When Youngsters Join the Family

Marriage seen as significant life stage for re-evaluating protection, but not parenthood

Marriage appears to be a catalyst for working men and women to obtain life insurance protection. However, when children enter into the equation, it appears that parents are not adjusting their life insurance coverage to accommodate this new life stage. MetLife’s 10th Annual Employee Benefits Trends Study found that about half of single working men and women without minor children have some amount of life insurance, a percentage that climbs to 72% for married workers without minor children but only increases marginally, to 75%, for married couples with youngsters. This is despite the fact that life insurance is provided by many employers as a workplace benefit.

For those parents who do have life insurance coverage, it is important to make sure that the coverage amounts purchased before parenthood are still adequate. Of concern, the MetLife study found that workers both with or without minor children have, in general, only about three times their annual household income covered by life insurance. This amount may be inadequate with the addition of children as the number and age of dependents should be taken into consideration when determining the amount of coverage needed.

“Marriage is a significant life event, and clearly, couples recognize the importance of putting life insurance on the to-do list. However, as busy as couples are when children arrive, it is critical to take the time to increase their life insurance protection because the number of dependents relying on their incomes has also increased. 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,” says Stephen Pontecorvo, vice president, Group Life Products at MetLife. “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.”

Why Having Adequate Coverage Matters

workers both with or without minor children have, in general, only about three times their annual household income covered by life insurance

Having an adequate amount of life insurance coverage is critical when raising a child. According to the United States Department of Agriculture, middle income families with a child born in 2011 can expect to spend $235,000 over 17 years. This figure does not include college tuition, room, or board, which, according to the National Center for Education Statistics, in 2010 cost an additional $32,475 a year for a four-year degree at a private university or $14,870 a year for a public university.

Tips To Get On The Right Track

According to the MetLife study, 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. However, Pontecorvo offers these easy 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 is no substitute for good advice, so don’t be afraid to ask for help.
• The amount of life insurance coverage should increase as your family expands to help ensure they are adequately financially protected and because of the sheer expense of raising children, especially if plans include sending them to college, funding weddings, or maintaining the family home.
• For more on the basics of life insurance protection, visit MetLife’s Employee Group Life Resource Center here and the Life 101 tutorial here.


About MetLife
Metropolitan Life Insurance Company (MetLife) is a subsidiary of MetLife, Inc., a leading global provider of insurance, annuities and employee benefit programs, serving 90 million customers. Through its subsidiaries and affiliates, MetLife holds leading market positions in the United States, Japan, Latin America, Asia, Europe and the Middle East. For more information, visit