Life Insurance Strategy

Nearly Half Of American Adults Expect To Pass On Their Debt After Death

Wealthier Americans are the most likely to expect their debts to outlive them

According to the Policygenius 2024 Financial Planning Survey among people who expect their loved ones to inherit their debt if they die, 21% have no life insurance coverage in their household. View the complete report here.

NEW YORK, Jan. 9, 2024 /PRNewswire/ — Nearly half of American adults (46%) expect that, if they died today, their loved ones would inherit their debt, according to a new report released today by insurtech leader Policygenius.

With U.S. household debt having increased by $2.9 trillion since the end of 2019, people across America are feeling the effects of debt. The survey found that the more a household earns, the more likely they are to pass down debt when they die.

The Policygenius 2024 Financial Planning Survey also found that:

  • 58% of people earning at least $150,000 in annual household income expect their loved ones to inherit their debts when they die.
  • A smaller percentage of Black Americans (38%) expect to pass down debt than white or Hispanic Americans (48% and 46% respectively).
  • 17% of millennials (ages 27 to 42) expect their loved ones would have to cover their student debt if they died today, compared to 16% of Generation Z (18-26), 7% of Generation X (43 to 58), and 2% of baby boomers (59 to 77).
  • American adults living with children are less likely (70%) to view the main purpose of life insurance as a way to provide for their dependents in the event of their death, compared to 80% of people without children. Instead, people living with children are far more likely to view insurance as a way to invest and grow money (21%, compared to 11% of people without children). Some life insurance products, like whole or permanent policies, have a cash component that can be used as a way to grow money in addition to the regular death benefit.
  • Among people who expect their loved ones to inherit their debt if they die, 21% have no life insurance coverage in their household.

“These findings show that many Americans, including the highest earners, are financially unprepared for death and at risk of burdening their loved ones with their debts. That includes student debt, with 17% of millennials and 16% of zoomers expecting their loved ones to inherit their student debts. As the Biden administration considers how to tackle the student debt crisis, it’s worth thinking about the potential impact these debts have on people beyond the direct borrowers,” Myles Ma, Certified Personal Financial Counselor at Policygenius, said. “Using planning tools like life insurance can help Americans protect their loved ones’ finances if there’s an unexpected death.”




Policygenius commissioned YouGov to poll 4,063 Americans 18 or older. The survey was carried out online from Oct. 16 through Oct. 19, 2023. The results have been weighted to be representative of all U.S. adults. The average margin of error was +/- 2%.
About Policygenius
Policygenius, a Zinnia company, is a one-stop insurance platform that makes it easy to compare and buy policies, get unbiased expert advice, and manage an insurance portfolio in one seamless digital experience. Alongside the intuitive enterprise technology solutions and insights offered by parent company Zinnia, an Eldridge business, Policygenius is helping create better end-to-end insurance experiences for shoppers, advisors, and insurers alike — and enabling more people to protect their financial futures along the way.