What’s Cooking: Three Key Voluntary Policies for Women

Today’s woman may bring home the bacon, but don’t count on her to fry it up in the pan: A recent study showed that married Gen X males – those born between 1961 and 1981 – are more involved in grocery shopping and cooking than their Baby Boomer dads. In fact, they cook about eight meals a week and run to the grocery store more than once in a seven-day period.1

While men are making things happen in the kitchen, what are women up to? Four in 10 are the sole or primary breadwinners for their families,2 yet women do three times as much housework as men. And despite men’s advances in the kitchen, women do more than twice the amount of food preparation and cleaning and spend almost twice as much time caring for children.3

Women’s financial and familial contributions are hard to replace

Given the importance of women to keeping households running – their contributions are financial, physical and emotional – they should consider what would happen to their loved ones if they were suddenly without income or, worse, out of the picture altogether.

October is National Work and Family Month, and since women remain our nation’s primary caregivers even as they increasingly become primary breadwinners, what better time for brokers and agents to remind female workers and their employers about the importance of voluntary health insurance coverage?

Three key ingredients of women’s health insurance portfolios

When it comes to voluntary coverage, women should consider protecting themselves and their families with three key voluntary policies: life, disability and cancer/specified-illness insurance. Here’s why:

  • They say it’s wise to expect the best but prepare for the worst, and life insurance is the perfect example of that adage. Women make major contributions to their families’ quality of life. That’s especially true today, when 54 percent of employed women are simultaneously looking after their parents as well as their children – and in doing so, absorbing more than one-third of the nation’s long-term care costs with their donated time.4

    When a woman dies, the effect can reverberate both emotionally and financially through several generations of her family. This is true whether she is a working mother or a stay-at-home mom. After all, mothers who do not work outside the home perform tasks with significant financial value, such as cleaning, cooking, driving and caregiving. Hiring someone to perform those tasks would be costly.

    Life insurance coverage is important to women because, without it, their loved ones’ standard of living might change dramatically. Benefits can be used to pay leftover medical costs, or to pay bills such as the mortgage or rent, household expenses, caregiving costs – even to ensure a child can do something as simple as continuing dance lessons or as momentous as attending college.

  • Disability insurance protects a working woman’s most valuable asset: her ability to earn a living. Many women prefer to believe that a disabling accident or illness is something that happens to others and not to them. But consider that a female 25-year-old office worker leading a healthy lifestyle has a 24 percent chance of becoming disabled for three months or longer during her career, and that there’s a 38 percent chance her disability will continue for at least five years.5

    Women often place their families before themselves, and that means they may postpone doctor visits or treatment while they care for their husbands, partners, children or parents. Unfortunately, this puts them at greater medical risk because they sometimes let an injury or illness progress before seeking attention.

    In the event of sickness or accidental injury, disability insurance helps provide peace of mind and financial protection. Policyholders can use disability benefits to pay the bills that continue to roll in even when their paychecks don’t. Whether they earmark the money for gas or electric bills, auto payments, credit card bills or to put food on the table, disability coverage allows women to focus on what’s most important – getting well.

  • New research shows that men are more likely to get and die of cancer, with leukemia and cancers of the colon and rectum, pancreas and liver killing one-and-a-half to two times as many men as women in the United States over a 30-year period. 6 Still, the National Cancer Institute estimates that 805,500 women will be diagnosed with cancer in 2013 – and that’s no small number.

    Cancer/specified-disease insurance can go a long way toward helping women focus on recovery, rather than on financial concerns. A supplemental policy helps protect a patient’s income and savings from expenses that aren’t covered by major medical insurance, including deductibles; out-of-network specialists; experimental cancer treatment; travel and lodging when treatment is far from home; child care and household help; and normal living expenses, such as the mortgage or rent, car payments, credit card payments, food and utility bills.

  • Stocking the benefits shelves with the right ingredients

    As an employer or broker, why not reach out to working women to help ensure they have access to life, disability and cancer/specified-disease insurance? Reducing their financial concerns will help them concentrate on being productive at work, rather than on how they’ll pay the bills, keep up with household demands and care for their loved ones.

    With women comprising 46.8 percent of the labor force – that’s 66 million workers7 – it’s not just the right thing to do for female employees and their families; it’s the smart thing to do for your accounts and businesses.


    1 University of Michigan Longitudinal Study of American Youth, Spring 2012 Gen X Report, accessed Sept. 9, 2013 -
    2 Pew Research Center, “Breadwinner Moms,” accessed Sept. 9, 2013 -
    3 U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics 2013 Time Use Survey, accessed Sept. 9, 2013 -
    4 Council on Contemporary Families, Sandwich Generation Month 2011, accessed Sept. 9, 2013 -
    5 Council for Disability Awareness, “Me, Disabled? Chances of Disability,” accessed Sept. 9, 2013 -
    6 Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers and Prevention, “Sex Disparities in Cancer Mortality and Survival,” accessed Sept. 9, 2013 -
    7 United States Department of Labor, “Quick Stats on Women Workers,” accessed Sept. 9, 2013 -