The number of insurance buyers in the country has slowly but surely increased over time, but the share of women buying insurance has not increased proportionately. While this may be a reflection of the workforce demographics, it is also perhaps true that many women still do not think of life insurance as a necessity.
There may be various reasons for this, and it is important to understand those and find a solution:
- Financial planning and decisions are still handled by the men in the family – usually the spouse or the father. As a result, circumstances which can be specific to women go unnoticed. Working women are increasingly becoming significant providers for their parents, siblings, children as well as for their own selves. And so there is a need to focus on adequate insurance coverage to take care of the people who depend on them financially, and also to ensure that the women themselves plan for medium to long-term savings which can enable them financially at various points in life.
- Lack of targeted communication towards women to inform them about the benefits of having life insurance which will encourage them to account for future requirements and take a policy or two that can take care of these needs. E.g. A fact that is not highlighted enough is that life insurance premiums are lower for women than men, and many insurers offer higher returns for women in savings insurance plans.
- Different health insurance needs: Many insurers provide coverage for women specific illnesses, related to frequently occurring cancers, pregnancy related issues, etc. Adding such insurance as part of financial planning can help take care of the financial burden such diagnosis can bring, without jeopardising the rest of your responsibilities.
- Lack of awareness about MWP Act option: A married woman can purchase an insurance policy under the Married Women's Property Act, and nominate her children as beneficiaries. This is an important feature as it will ensure that the proceeds of the policy will only go to the beneficiaries and no one else. This can be a key tool for any woman trying to ensure the financial security of her children in her absence.
- Stay-at-home moms and other non-working women do not see the need to purchase insurance. Since they are not the primary breadwinners of the household, they may believe that insurance is only for the male earning member of the household. However, managing a household is no mean task and in their absence the household will not only suffer emotionally, but also financially since there is no easy replacement for the work she put in. Hence, educating non-working women (and their families) on the needs and benefits of insurance is a must.
- While buying insurance may seem like a daunting task and can involve a significant amount of money, nowadays it is easy to find all the required information online. All insurers and insurance aggregators provide details of policies and premiums, making the required information easily available, and easy to compare. Thus, it is possible to make an informed choice on your own.
In addition to securing themselves through insurance, it is also important for women to know the existing insurance details of their family members, usually spouse or parent. In many cases, women are the nominees in life insurance policies of family members/spouses but they are not aware of it.
Not knowing these details can result in difficulties while raising a claim, if such a time should come. Each household should ensure there is communication and information sharing with the nominee/s and they are familiar with the insurer and its processes.
In short, whether women become increasingly financially independent or become the primary caregivers and managers of their households, it is important that they become more aware of the need to secure their future and take steps to align their savings and financial protection accordingly.
Jataveda Bhattacharya, Head - Product Design, Aegon life insurance