How the life insurance landscape has transformed for women

by Leo Almazora11 Mar 2020

While men have traditionally been seen as the ones in control of household wealth and income, women are increasingly coming into their own — making it more important for them to take a good look at their insurance needs.

“Looking at today’s world, we see members of the millennial generation and Generation X working in the gig economy, going from job to job, or having an entrepreneurial type of position,” said Chantal Mackenzie, regional vice president at Canada Protection Plan.

Mackenzie noted that in the past, women tended to undervalue themselves relative to their male counterparts, possibly due to their higher likelihood of having lower incomes or being a stay-at-home parent. But now more than ever, they have to be mindful of their financial affairs.

“From an advisor’s perspective, we always recommend looking at insurance needs earlier rather than later,” she stressed. “You’re younger and healthier, and a lot more likely to qualify for insurance at better rates.”

Health-related factors can affect the rates and amount of coverage an individual can qualify for. Though underwriters may not focus on pregnancy among women specifically, pregnancy can impact other factors like build or blood sugar levels. High blood pressure is another possible concern for pregnant women, particularly in cases where preeclampsia manifests.

“Multiple-birth pregnancies may also carry extra risk,” Mackenzie said. “Of course, the application process can be easier with non-traditional providers, where people can avail of simplified life insurance.”

Many traditional insurers require full underwriting, which could entail a lengthier application process with medical procedures and blood work. But the past few years have seen increased recognition of no-medical insurance solutions, where the appropriate product and premium are established based on a series of questions that must be answered truthfully at the time of application. With some non-medical providers, Mackenzie said, it’s possible for someone who’s had one occurrence of breast cancer and has been in remission for three years to get up to half a million in coverage.

“Things other than health can also affect life insurance,” she added. “Your lifestyle or occupation may be rateable. You may engage in hazardous sports, which you can see among a lot more women nowadays. Travel outside the country, particularly to places where there may be travel advisories, can also play a part.”

To properly work through all of those factors, she encourages women to approach an advisor who can conduct a proper needs analysis. That would essentially involve going through a series of questions designed to understand a client’s values, needs, and what they want the insurance to do for their family or partner upon their death.

“The discussion could become emotional, but the goal really is to ensure that their loved ones would be able to adjust to the loss while keeping things as normal as possible,” Mackenzie said.

A plan should properly account for the costs that would have to be paid in the event that a breadwinner passes away. Aside from bills, mortgages, and other debt obligations, she highlighted childcare, pet care, house cleaning, and other matters that will have to be outsourced in cases where the surviving partner transitions from staying at home to finding employment.

“You don’t want your family to tap into investments that were positioned for specific needs, or have to move to a smaller residence that may not be as comfortable,” she said. “So it’s very important to look at insurance as part of an overall financial plan.”