Women Financially Struggle More When Losing a Spouse

The financial burden of losing a spouse weighs more heavily on women than it does men.  Many women say they wish they had life insurance at the time of their spouse’s death, according to new survey by New York Life.

In the survey, New York Life analyzed the financial and emotional toll of losing a spouse had on the surviving spouse and whether or not they felt financial prepared. The survey discovered that women felt more financially unprepared than men after losing their spouse.

Following the loss of their spouse, 68 percent of widows reported significant life changes, with financial concerns rising to the top of the list. The burden of these changes amounted to years of undue hardship after the loss.

“The news is unsettling – women are not prepared for the loss of a spouse and the problems are financial and much more,” Chris Blunt, co-president of the Insurance and Agency Group, New York Life said in a press release.

The survey examined the repercussions of the loss of a spouse on 897 spouses and widowers who were within 10 years of their loss with the main focus being on how the loss impacted their daily life. While participants were asked about the financial and emotions factors, the survey narrowed in on the aspect of financial security and whether or not they felt prepared.

Forty-seven percent of widows reported negative lifestyle changes the years following the loss while 42 percent of widowers felt this way. The financial impact was even greater – two thirds of widows experienced a significant financial change compared to half of widowers.

As financial security was the biggest concern among both parties, the survey also identified five life changes that both felt would change due to the loss of their spouse:

  • Adjusting to a change in income level
  • Budgeting for one income
  • Cutting discretionary spending
  • No longer being able to afford a vacation
  • No longer adequately saving for retirement

Women ranked higher in all of the above life changes.

For some widows, the lifestyle changes were even more dire. Two in five widows whose spouses did not have life insurance at the time of loss (39 percent) reported that they were just making ends meet or struggling to meet basic needs within the first year of loss.

While having a life insurance policy is always in your beneficiary’s best interest, it is also important to have the adequate amount of coverage to support the daily life of your beneficiary.

The majority of women reported feeling secure about their financial situation before the loss – yet after the loss, 59 percent reported they did not have enough life insurance in place to feel financially secure. Approximately half of the women (47 percent) reported that they wish they had some or more life insurance to help cushion the financial impact of their loss.

“These widows learned too late they were underinsured,” Blunt said. “The message is clear – life insurance proceeds are important, but the need for that financial security blanket is much greater than what exists in many financial plans.”

Want to learn more about life insurance? Read our article The Most Frequently Asked Life Insurance Questions.

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