Survey Supports Importance of Life Insurance Benefits

September 16, 2009 ( - A survey by insurance provider MetLife finds having life insurance and the amount of proceeds from that benefit are key factors in the feeling of financial security for those who lose spouses.

According to a press release, even five to seven years after the loss of their spouse, more than one-third (36%) of individuals surveyed say they remain financially vulnerable. Approximately three-quarters of beneficiaries do not feel that the amount of the life insurance proceeds they received amply met their needs.

About half (53%) of widows and widowers who received three or more years of household income in life insurance benefits felt financially secure in the year following their loss, the press release said. However, that percentage drops to 27% for beneficiaries receiving a lesser amount and to only 11% for survivors who collected no life insurance proceeds.

Eight out of ten survivors had to make financial adjustments, but 42% of those who received no life insurance benefits said they had to borrow money from friends and family compared to 25% of those receiving benefits. In addition, 36% who received no life insurance benefits relocated residences compared to 23% of survivors receiving benefits.

The study found a difference in coverage levels obtained by men and women. In general, wives who received life insurance benefits obtained an amount equal to about two years of household income, while husbands received only one year’s worth of household income.

“[T]aking steps to help ensure a family’s financial security can be easy. A basic step – which people often overlook – is to take advantage of opportunities provided by employers to obtain additional life insurance coverage at group rates,” said Graham Cox, vice president, MetLife Life Product Management, in the press release.

MetLife’s Study of the Financial Impact of Premature Death was fielded June 12 – 26, 2009 by Zeldis Research Associates. The study was comprised of 1,000 widows and widowers, all of whom had lost a spouse within a period of six months to seven years prior to the survey, and the deceased spouse was between 25- and 60-years-old at the time of death.