Monday, August 30, 2010

More Americans Go Without Life Insurance

Nearly a third of U.S. households have no life-insurance coverage, the highest percentage in more than four decades, according to research firm Limra, the Wall Street Journal reported today. About 35 million U.S. households neither own their own life-insurance policies nor are covered under employer-sponsored plans, up from the 24 million, or 22 percent of households, without coverage in 2004, according to the study this year by Limra. The rise reflects tight household budgets, loss of employer-provided coverage as a result of layoffs, and cutbacks by some employers in their benefits packages, Limra said. Half of the respondents in the latest survey said they needed more life insurance, but many have not bought it because their financial priorities include paying off debt.

The industry also is grappling with a decline in the number of agents who sell to middle-class families, often described as those with household incomes of between about $35,000 and $100,000 a year.

Since the 1970s, the number of company-affiliated life-insurance agents has dropped by nearly one-third, to 174,000 in recent years, according to data from Limra.