Insurance Read Time: 4 min

Women and insurance: What you need to know

Over the course of recent generations, women have made great strides in the classroom and the workplace. In fact, in 2019 women surpassed men as the majority of college-educated workers in the United States.1 Yet, as it’s well known, women continue to earn less than men. Women still earn only 84 percent of their male counterparts’ salary.2

People are less familiar with the other gap between men and women: the insurance gap. Women don’t hold life insurance policies as often as men do.3 In other words, as women achieve more, they’re further behind in protecting their income, families, and legacies through insurance. But there are ways for women to make up this difference — and gain in their financial confidence.

The gender insurance gap by the numbers

During the tumult of 2020, over 18 million women lost their life insurance coverage. Many women attributed their loss to sudden unemployment. Yet even as women recover from those tough times, they remain less likely to own life insurance. Fifty-eight percent of men hold a policy, but only 47 percent of women do. Women are also behind in the learning curve about insurance. Thirty-nine percent of men say they are “very knowledgeable” about life insurance, whereas only 22 percent of women say the same.4

Fortunately, closing the education gap is a good place to start. Women from all walks of life, from full-time professionals to stay-at-home moms, should discuss the fundamentals and their insurance options with a financial professional.

Consider income protection

For example, if you’re a woman earning a paycheck outside the home, consider disability income insurance. A disability insurance policy will provide you and your family with a portion of your income in the event you can no longer work, even temporarily, due to an accident or illness. If you’re young or live a careful life, perhaps this kind of protection seems unnecessary. Keep in mind that approximately 25 percent of workers in their 20s today will face a disability at some point in their career. And according to a recent study, nearly 1 in 3 single women said they were “extremely unprepared” for any period of disability if they should lose their income.5

Spousal coverage is another option

Not every woman earns outside the home. Women who stay at home to take care of the kids and manage the household are also major contributors. In fact, one estimate found that if stay-at-home partners were paid a salary based on all of the services they provide, they would earn approximately $178,000 a year.6

If a woman who works at home had to stop due to an unforeseen event, everyone in the family would be impacted. To protect your family from this kind of emergency, review the option of spousal coverage with your financial representative.

Life insurance protects your family — and more

As women advance in the workplace, they’re more likely to have people who depend upon them financially. With this in mind, a life insurance policy can help provide a financial protection for others in the event of your premature death. You can change the beneficiaries of your policy at any time. If you don’t have children, for instance, you can name your parents, other relatives, or your favorite charity, as the beneficiary. In the most common and affordable type of life insurance, called term life insurance, you are covered for a set period of time, like 10 years or 30 years.

There can be living benefits to life insurance as well, and with other types of life insurance, these can be an advantage for unforeseen events. For example, with whole life insurance, your coverage lasts your entire life, and as you pay monthly premiums over time, a portion of your payments can grow as a cash asset.7 You may be able to use this money to fund your goals, such as going back to school or starting a business, or cover expenses if an emergency arises. As a result, not only will whole life insurance help provide financial protection for your loved ones, it can support you during your lifetime, too.

Even as women reach milestones in the workplace, they still experience discrepancies, especially when it comes to protecting their success. By working with a financial representative and developing the appropriate insurance strategy for you, you can do your part to help close the insurance gap.


1 In a milestone, most college-educated workers in the U.S. are now women, CBS News, June 24, 2019

2 Gender pay gap in U.S. held steady in 2020, Pew Research Center, May 25, 2021

3 LIMRA, 2023 Insurance Barometer Study

4 Facts About Life 2021, LIMRA, September 2021

5 Council for Disability Awareness, 2019 Disability Awareness Study

6 How Much Is a Stay-at-Home Parent Worth? Investopedia, October 29, 2021

7 Some whole life polices do not have cash values in the first two years of the policy and don’t pay a dividend until the policy’s third year. Talk to your financial representative and refer to your individual whole life policy illustration for more information. Policy benefits are reduced by any outstanding loan or loan interest and/or withdrawals. Dividends, if any, are affected by policy loans and loan interest. Withdrawals above the cost basis may result in taxable ordinary income. If the policy lapses, or is surrendered, any outstanding loans considered gain in the policy may be subject to ordinary income taxes. If the policy is a Modified Endowment Contract (MEC), loans are treated like withdrawals, but as gain first, subject to ordinary income taxes. If the policy owner is under 59 ½, any taxable withdrawal may also be subject to a 10% federal tax penalty.


Material discussed is meant for general informational purposes only and is not to be construed as a recommendation or advice.

Brought to you by The Guardian Network © 2022. The Guardian Life Insurance Company of America®, New York, NY

2023-164948 Exp. 11/2025

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