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Transformative Power of Life Insurance for Women

Shefali Desai headshot

By Shefali Desai

Head of MassMutual Worksite — leading the transformation of today's group voluntary benefits for working Americans.

Posted on: March 18, 2024

As March unfolds, signaling the arrival of spring, we also pause to recognize Women’s History Month — and the significant strides women have made in recent decades. Yet, acknowledging the hurdles many women encounter, there remains a need to further their financial empowerment. As the Head of Worksite at MassMutual, I’d like to shed some light on the importance of economic independence for women and how voluntary benefits, particularly life insurance, can help play a pivotal role in securing financial well-being.

Group of mostly female co-workers sitting around an office table looking at paperwork

To paint a picture of the financial landscape for women, let’s start with some statistics to ponder. For example, were you aware about 70% of U.S. moms can reasonably expect to be their household’s primary financial provider at some point during their first 18 years of motherhood?1 However, despite this responsibility, only 49% of women own life insurance protection, compared to 55% of men.2 Even more concerning is the gap in knowledge about life insurance, with just 22% of women considering themselves ‘very’ or ‘extremely’ knowledgeable.2

One might wonder why these statistics matter. Not only may women become the primary financial provider at some point as shared above, but women also tend to live nearly six years longer than men on average.3 This means that women often outlive their male spouses or partners, facing the financial implications alone (also known as longevity risk). Additionally, our own Workforce Financial Stability ScoreSM research shows that a gender gap remains in terms of financial well-being. 62% of women feel financially challenged vs. 37% of men.4 Moreover, a significant portion of women, 44%, believe they need (or need more) life insurance coverage, representing a staggering 54 million women.5

This is where voluntary benefits, such as Group Whole Life (GWL) Insurance, offered through the workplace can make a substantial difference. It’s also a potential opportunity for benefits producers when discussing their benefits package offering. Here are few advantages of GWL, especially for women, when preparing for your next client meeting. For starters, there is the financial security it provides their loved ones in the event of an untimely death. This may be self-evident to you, but the value may not be as obvious to your audience. This death benefit may be particularly crucial for single mothers or primary caregivers who shoulder the responsibility of providing for their families. By having access to GWL at work, women can secure coverage conveniently and at potentially more affordable rates than individual policies.

GWL also offers cash value accumulation over time, serving as a considerable asset for women’s financial portfolios. Again, you may be familiar with this benefit, but think about how this cash value can be utilized for various purposes, such as supplementing retirement income, funding educational expenses, or even starting a business.6 The flexibility and stability provided by GWL helps empower women to plan for their futures with confidence.

Depending on your provider, you may want to promote other living benefits that matter too. For example, MassMutual’s GWL can also include benefits and features such as a chronic care benefit7, portability, and dividend eligibility.8 All of which may be an important resource to a woman’s financial well-being.

Additionally, and I think this is a perspective often neglected, GWL can help bridge the knowledge gap that exists among women regarding life insurance. By offering educational resources and guidance through voluntary benefits at the workplace, women can increase their understanding of financial planning and make informed decisions about their insurance needs. Empowering women with knowledge can not only benefit them individually but also strengthens families and communities as a whole.

As we celebrate Women’s History Month, let’s commit ourselves to truly advancing women’s financial empowerment. By recognizing the unique challenges women face and advocating for solutions such as voluntary benefits and permanent life insurance, we can help create a more inclusive and financially stable future for all. Together, let’s pave the way for women to thrive and fulfill their potential in every aspect of life.

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1 “Children’s Financial Dependence on Mothers: Propensity and Duration.” Socius, November 2021

2 2023 Insurance Barometer Study, LIMRA and Life Happens

3 Mortality in the United States, February 2023

4 Working American Perceptions: Annual Assessment of Financial Well-Being. MassMutual, September 2023

5 2023 Insurance Barometer Study, LIMRA and Life Happens

6 Access to cash value through loans or partial surrenders will reduce the certificate's cash value and death benefit, increase the chance the certificate will lapse, and may result in a tax liability.

7 Riders and other features, such as the Chronic Care Benefit, may be available for an additional premium or have a fee when exercised. The Chronic Care Benefit is not approved in MA.

8 Dividends are not guaranteed. The certificate is eligible to receive dividends beginning on the second anniversary.

The product and/or certain features may not be available in all states. State variations will apply.

Group Whole Life Insurance (GPWL), (policy/certificate forms MM-GPWL-2014 and MM-GCWL-2014, and MM-GPWL-2014 (NC) and MM-GCWL-2014 (NC) in North Carolina), is level-premium, participating permanent life insurance. The GPWL policy and GCWL certificates are issued by Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company, Springfield, MA 01111-0001.