Unmet Life Insurance Needs Total $15.3 Trillion

Most Americans don’t have enough life insurance – and many don’t have any at all. For the majority of us, this is a shocking reality that could come back to haunt us at a time when we – and our loved ones – need it most.

The problem isn’t that we’re unaware. We know we need life insurance: 85 percent of Americans agree that the majority of people need life insurance, according to Life Insurance Barometer Study 2013, conducted by financial services consultant LIMRA.

Here’s why: In 2010, the LIMRA Household Trends in U.S. Life Insurance Ownership study found that if the primary wage earner died, 40 percent of U.S. households with children under 18 would immediately have difficulty paying for daily living expenses, and 70 percent would have difficulty within a few months.

No insurance or not enough

And all this information is readily available. Yet the percentage of Americans who own life insurance has declined significantly over the last 50 years, as evidenced in LIMRA’s Trends in Life Insurance Ownership study: In 1960, 72 percent of Americans owned individual life insurance. In 1992, it declined to 55 percent, and in 2010, just 44 percent of U.S. households had individual life insurance – a 50-year low.

As well, of those Americans who had life insurance in 2011, 40 percent believed they didn’t have enough, according to Genworth’s LifeJacket Study. And while a turnaround may be occurring, it’s not happening fast enough or extensively enough to help almost 40 percent of the population, who still haven’t purchased insurance. All told, the unmet life insurance needs in the U.S. has been estimated by LIMRA at $15.3 trillion.

Credibility gap over costs

Why are Americans underinsured? LIMRA cites the most common reason given by 83 percent of Americans as the cost. Interestingly, LIMRA also found that consumers believe life insurance costs nearly three times its actual price. It just may be time for you to find out the facts for yourself.