Life insurance is considered important because it provides for financial stability after the loss of the bread earner in the family. While it is important that the earning members of the family invest in life insurance covers to protect their families economic condition even in the event of their deaths, it is equally important that the non-earning members, namely the housewives, have insurance coverage too.
Both insurance companies and the husbands have a valid argument for not providing for life insurance policies for housewives - the do not support the family in any financial manner and their death, while emotionally tragic, would not impact the families economic condition in anyway. Since the housewife has no means of income, the premia for the insurance cover would have to be paid by the husband - and this is usually considered as an additional and unnecessary expense.
However, there is most definitely valid reasons why housewives should have life insurance. Housewives do a lot of work, which often go unappreciated. In fact, they help the household to save a lot of money, a fact that comes to the surface in their absence. Think about it this way - in the absence of a housewife, the family would need to hire a cook, a nanny for their children, a housekeeper, tutor etc. in middle or low income nuclear families, this can put a considerable strain on finances. If the housewife has life insurance, then that sum of money would be beneficial for the family. This might be a very crude calculation of a person's worth, but it is a practical way of looking at the situation.
The extent of the coverage that a housewife gets from insurance companies may not be very high, and many policies might be unavailable for them, yet they should invest in whatever way possible.
Since life insurance is cheaper for women in India, it is easier for a housewife to avail of it. While term insurance plans which are largely intended for earning members are not available for them, they can opt for endowment plans, whole life insurance plans, ULIPs , money back or pension plans.
There is also unfortunately, a limit to to the amount of insurance a housewife can get. This can vary between 15 lakh and 10 lakh, depending on the insurer and the amount is further subjected to the husband being insured for the same amount or more.
Housewives might also opt for investment oriented insurance policies, in which case insurers would be ready to provide them with life insurance. However, there is no need to pay more than you would require. Opt for a plan which will give a good cover for a low premium - for example, a cover of Rs 5 lakh would mean that a housewife would have to pay INR 1700 every year as premium. This is more than enough for a comfortable life insurance policy for a woman who does not earn.
The author is the CEO of MyInsuranceClub.com, an online insurance price & features comparison portal
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You may write to the author at Deepak@myinsuranceclub.com