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Top 6 Life Insurance Tips for Women
Founder & CEO

The financial services industry is not always a welcoming place for women. I know from experience—once at a conference, the security staff assumed I was an undercover Occupy Wall Street protester and tried to remove me. Apparently it felt more likely to them for me to be a protestor than the rather obvious (and correct) explanation that I was an investor attending the conference just like the hundreds of men around me. That type of treatment left an impression and still impacts how I run my company.

AboveBoard is built around the goal of making personal financial decisions comfortable and easy for everyone. While many of the questions women have about life insurance are relevant regardless of gender, there are also unique considerations to be made. Read on for our top 6 things for women to consider when applying for life insurance.

#1 Have a Firm Handle On Your Financial Situation

Your life insurance policy is just one part of your total financial picture, and it should strike the right balance of protection and budget goals for you. Your coverage should reflect your family situation, your goals, and your financial situation. 

The AboveBoard Financial Action Plan helps you put your life insurance decisions in context. It helps answers questions like:  

  • Should I invest or pay down debt?
  • Should I prioritize saving in a 401k, an IRA, or a regular brokerage account?
  • How much life insurance do I need?
  • What should be on a new parent’s financial to-do list?

When you complete the Financial Action Plan and get an online quote, your AboveBoard agent can advise you in an integrated way.

#2 Recognize the Value of Everything You Do

When selecting a policy, don’t just take your income into account. The mental load is real, and you need to account for that work too.  The mental load is disproportionately borne by women at this time in our society. Many women feel like we’re constantly juggling a bunch of different things that need to get done for other people—a spouse or partner, kids, aging parents, siblings. Many people rely on the care and planning we provide for free.

If you were not there, consider the logistics of how things would get done in your household and who would do them. Families who lose a parent prematurely often find that there are incremental childcare and household support costs, above and beyond any that existed before, and they add up.

#3 Stay-At-Home Moms Need Coverage Too

If you’re not currently earning income or earn meaningfully less than your partner, the odds are still very high that you both need coverage.

27% of moms do not work outside the home, and we sometimes see stay-at-home-moms questioning whether they need coverage at all. 

The value of what a stay-at-home parent provides is significant—replacing all labor that stay-at-home parents do is estimated to cost $162,000/year. You don’t need to insure that full amount as if your income were $162,000/year, but your policy should start by at least covering the cost of full-time childcare in your area. Our life insurance calculator will offer you suggestions.

Another important question to ask is whether your spouse/partner could sustain their current level of earnings if you were suddenly gone. Check out the next section on primary earners for how to think about insuring the primary earner in your family.

#4 Account for Time Off that You’d Need After a Partner’s Death

An important question to ask yourself is: would your current earnings be sustainable as a solo parent? Answers usually fall into one of three categories:

  1. No: if your spouse/partner were gone, you would need or want the flexibility to take a meaningful pay cut in order to manage being a single parent. In this case, you may want to count your desired reduction in earnings as if it were your spouse/partner’s income.
  2. Yes: the hours and duties (e.g. travel) of your job are entirely compatible with solo parenting. In this case, be sure to consider a budget for increased childcare expenses in your spouse/partner’s coverage.
  3. Somewhere in between: you would want to take some time off (unpaid leave) to stabilize the family but would eventually plan to return to working as usual.

#5 Find Insurance that Matches Your Phase of Life and Looks Toward the Future 

Single Moms 

If you’re a single mom, the right coverage strategy comes down to the details of what would happen to your kids if you were no longer around. If you’re a highly compensated single mom in Manhattan, and your sister would move into your apartment and keep the kids set up in their current lifestyle, that is a different cost of living—and coverage amount—than if the kids would move in with your brother and his family in Texas. Our agents can help you find the coverage strategy that reflects the options you would want your loved ones to have.

Pregnant Women 

If you are pregnant or hoping to be anytime soon, get life insurance in place as soon as possible.

Pregnancy comes with many common complications that can easily double (or more) your life insurance pricing, even after you have given birth and the complications have gone away. Gestational diabetes and gestational hypertension are two common examples. Thankfully these complications are usually well-managed to protect the health of you and your baby, but they still have a negative effect on your life insurance pricing. 

The best strategy is to get life insurance coverage in place as soon as you have clear plans to try to become pregnant—the sooner the better. You can learn more about that in Pregnant or planning to be? Don't wait to get life insurance.

Breast Cancer Risk 

Women face certain gender-specific health risks that can change their outlook on insurance. When many women first look for life insurance in their 20s or 30s, they’re less likely to have personally  experienced a health crisis, whether their own or a friend’s. One of the things we aim to do is highlight choices that a woman might want her future self to have. Reasonable people can reach different conclusions about what they want, but everyone should be aware of the options.

I remember that when I got my first life insurance policy, the only women I knew who had had breast cancer were my mom’s generation or older. Then several years ago I had five friends my age who were diagnosed with breast cancer in the span of a few years. Shocked by the prevalence of breast cancer among my age 30-something friends, I started looking up stats about the odds of a woman getting breast cancer.

At age...

The risk of developing breast cancer in the next 10 years is:

20

1 in 1,732

30

1 in 228

40

1 in 69

50

1 in 43

60

1 in 29

70

1 in 26

Source

With these stats in mind, the 20 year term policy I had initially chosen when pregnant suddenly felt inadequate for my goals. I wanted term coverage for my entire working life. If I got a bad diagnosis, I wanted no sense of financial loss and complete freedom for my spouse and me to quit work and enjoy whatever time we have. Thankfully, I was still healthy enough to qualify for a well-priced 30 year term policy when I had this realization, but it left me thinking about the fact that I wished someone had offered this choice to me in a calm, facts-based way when I was first choosing coverage.

#6 - Work With An Independent Brokerage that Understands Women’s Issues

Founded by two working women who are also moms, AboveBoard Financial has always had a deep understanding of a range of women’s issues, and we bring that perspective to helping clients get life insurance coverage.

We go to bat for you when the industry doesn’t “get it.” From patiently explaining that indeed, pregnancy involves weight gain and that it’s normal and healthy to clarifying that a woman who received a recent diagnosis of depression related to her husband’s job loss can indeed pay her premiums because she herself has a job, we handle those conversations so you don’t have to. 

To get started, get a recommended coverage amount and term or—if you already know what you’re looking for—get an instant online quote.

Wallis is the Founder & CEO of AboveBoard Financial, a company reinventing investment advice and insurance with revolutionary transparency and honesty. Wallis spent over 10 years at Goldman Sachs as an investment banker and hedge fund investor in financial institutions. She founded AboveBoard to cut through the BS and present important choices with clarity and compassion. Wallis lives in New York City with her husband and two young children.

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