Survey Finds Many Women Underinsured

May 5, 2008 ( - Many working moms underemphasize their own financial picture, including insurance and annual earnings, and focus on their spouse's financial contribution to the family.

A survey sponsored by The Hartford Group, an insurance provider, found that two-thirds of moms say it is “extremely” or “very important” for their spouse or partner to have disability insurance, compared with only half who say it is “extremely” or “very important” to have coverage themselves. A news release said the poll found less than half of mothers (47%) who work outside the home have short-term disability insurance and even fewer (37%) have long-term disability coverage.

Another possible reason for mothers’ lack of disability coverage is that many are unaware of their vulnerability and what conditions constitute a disability, the release said. Only 24% of mothers surveyed say they completely understand disability insurance. Sixty-one percent of moms surveyed think accidents or injuries are the leading cause of short-term disability.

“The burden on mothers today is enormous, including contributing half and in some cases, all of the household income. Yet, many are not taking an important step to safeguard their family finances,” said Laura Marzi, assistant vice president in The Hartford’s Group Benefits Division, in the news release.

The Hartford suggested one possible reason mothers perceive a less critical need for income protection is that they often draw smaller salaries than their spouse. In The Hartford’s survey, nearly half of moms polled say they earn under $50,000 per year, with 64% of single mothers earning $25,000 to $50,000 annually. In comparison, a majority of fathers (54%) surveyed draw an annual income of $50,000 to $100,000.

Marzi noted that 97% of mothers surveyed report they would have to change their lifestyle if they lost part of their family’s income for three to six months. In addition, only 6% of moms say that they have saved enough to live off their savings in case they become disabled.

For The Hartford’s survey, independent market research agency Opinauri, Inc., conducted an online survey polling 971 U.S. adults, aged 18-64, in February 2008.