TomorrowMakers ™

Think men and women need the same insurance plan? Here's why you are wrong

14 July 2017
Women’s health, financial standing and requirements differ from those of men. So, it only makes sense that they need different insurance too.
 
 

It is true that men and women have different needs, but it is likely that the consumer culture has taken this divide to a whole new level. Everything from toys and food to coat hangers, falls on different sides of the gender divide. You have pink hangers for girls and blue ones for boys. 
 
This has triggered an important debate: Is this level of differentiation at all necessary?
 
What about insurance products? Do men and women need the same insurance plan? Or should they get different ones? Sometimes, the gender divide is important. Here’s why women may need a different insurance plan.
 
Related: Here's why every woman should get health insurance
 
Men don’t need maternity covers
Let’s start with the most obvious difference—biology. Women are designed to bear and birth children. While men do support women financially, it may not be enough. A study in 2016 found that 46.6% of new mothers in India get pushed into poverty . This is largely because of the healthcare expenses related to maternity. And this finding is not limited to illiterate or low-income groups. The survey found that 36.7% of the households that got pushed into poverty were those with educated women . Educated women couldn’t even afford an average cost of Rs. 19,250. 
 
Many women reading this may feel thankful about their company’s group insurance. But, surveys from World Health Organisation (WHO), National Sample Survey Office, TimesJobs and Jawaharlal Nehru University and Indian Institute of Technology offer some interesting insights. 
 
What Do the Numbers Say
For 35% of women professionals the workplace had ‘poor’ provisions for maternity care
55% of respondents rated the provisions as ‘average’
For 10% of women cover is adequate
46.6% mothers Pushed into poverty due to maternal health care expenses
63% households nationwide Maternal healthcare expenses is greater than or equal to 40% of a household’s non subsistence income
Moreover, healthcare costs are increasing. So, you are likely to need more money for maternity care. 
 
A personal insurance cover, however, can help ease this burden, especially one that covers pregnancy-related expenses. And only women can get such policies (unless you are part of a family cover). 
 
Women have lower income and savings
For years, women have been left out of the employment pool, and without the ability to generate income, it is natural that they have lower savings and investments. A survey of househgsold savings from 2011 by market regulator SEBI is the eye opener . Here are the findings- 
 
• Of 67.25 million people with savings in a bank account, only 7.16% or 4.82 million were women. 
• A similar trend was witnessed across other investment categories too—post office savings, LIC and Pension schemes; the percentage of women savers was less than 10%. 
 
Moreover, the SEBI report said that women investors tend to be more risk-averse, which means their savings are likely to be lower.
 
Related: Business ideas for women who want financial freedom
 
In such a scenario, insurance can come quite handy for women. There are many investment-linked Life insurance plans, that invest a portion of the premium amount to earn returns. This can grow over time and women can use it for multiple purposes like: 
 
- Monthly/Regular income
- Child’s education and welfare
- Personal wellbeing
 
Moreover, insurance can also make women more emergency-ready. For example, disability and other riders on life insurance can protect women better from untoward incidents in life. 
 
Speaking of emergencies…
Various studies have found that women are more susceptible to certain forms of cancer. For instance, breast and cervical cancer are two of the most dangerous diseases for women, which is why it is important that they have a critical illness or Cancer cover. 
 
Here are some more findings from a 2017 Survey
• Breast cancer is the leading cause of cancer-related deaths for Indian women
• It makes up for 1/4th of all cancer cases 
• One in 28 women is susceptible to breast cancer, and the number of breast cancer patients has been on a constant rise 
• Prevalence of cancer is higher in women as compared to men
• In 2013, breast cancer killed over 47,000 women as compared to 45,000 plus men who died from Lung cancer - the most common cancer afflicting men  
 

Other health problems
It is not just cancer. Women tend to develop other health issues, more so than men. 38% women are likely to develop chronic illnesses as per a report. This is higher than 30% for men. Additionally, they have a higher risk of developing conditions like arthritis and osteoporosis.  Currently, these diseases are not covered by insurance.

Yet, women live longer

As per the last census, there are 4.05 crore women who were 65 years and over. In contrast, there were only 3.6 crore men in that age group.  Moreover, the average life span in India for women is 69.8 years, while for men it is 67.3 years. This means women are likely to need longer insurance coverage, and will need adequate savings to fund expenses over these years. So, investment-linked Life insurance can be more useful. 

A last word
Women tend to start investing earlier in life. However, this often fizzles out after marriage . Dependency on the family for financial support could be quite dangerous. Not only can the woman lose the support , but she could also be exposed to domestic violence and trauma. A report in 2005 found that 49% of women with no land or assets experienced physical violence in comparison to 7% women with assets. 
 
Such risks are quite unique to the fairer gender. Thankfully, insurance can come to their rescue.
 
Disclaimer: This article is intended for general information purposes only and should not be construed as investment, insurance, tax or legal advice. You are encouraged to separately obtain independent advice when making decisions in these areas.

 

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