By Walter H. Zultowski, Ph.D
Retirement is undergoing a facelift, and the main reason is Americans are continuing to work past the traditional retirement age of 65. In the 2015 Amica Life Financial Peace of Mind Survey, nearly half (49 percent) of respondents age 50-64 indicated that it was likely that they and/or their spouse would continue to work past age 65, and of the respondents age 65-70, 32 percent were still in the workforce.1
Some statistics that show the need to continue to work beyond the traditional retirement age can be attributed to a lack of savings and high amounts of debt.
- For households approaching retirement, the average 401(k)/IRA balance has decreased by 8 percent in only three years; $111,000 in 2013, compared to $120,000 in 2010.2
- Almost half (49.3 percent) of Americans age 50-70 have more than $10,000 in debt, excluding their mortgage.3
- The typical household approaching retirement only has $12,500 in financial assets outside of their retirement savings, and many have no sources of retirement savings other than Social Security.4
This perceived need to accumulate as much wealth as possible prior to retirement is not surprising considering that boomers will spend almost as much time in retirement as they did in the workforce. At the same time, Americans are seeing a dramatic increase in life expectancy and will need their retirement savings to sustain them longer than ever.5
What’s surprising is that many articles on retirement planning omit a discussion on life insurance, and the role it can play in one’s retirement years. For those who are married or have dependants, and are relying on working income for their future retirement security, it only makes sense that they have life insurance to help protect this income stream in the event of their premature death.
In general, baby boomers recognize the need for life insurance coverage, as 69 percent agree that “it is important to have life insurance throughout your life,” and 76 percent agree that “life insurance is an integral part of a person’s life-long financial planning.” However, two-thirds (66 percent) of baby boomers believe it is more important to save for retirement than to buy an adequate amount of life insurance.6
So, what might explain this disconnect? Well, six out of ten (62 percent) believe that “life insurance becomes too expensive for most people past age 50.” More telling is the fact that 63 percent incorrectly believe that the cost of life insurance has increased over the last ten years for someone of the exact same age and health status.7
The truth is that the cost of life insurance has actually decreased over the past decade. This is due to companies improving their underwriting capabilities and their efficiency of operations, and passing these savings onto the consumer.
I suspect that this misperception causes many in this age group to avoid researching the benefits of life insurance, even though they recognize their need for it. Without individual or employer-provided coverage many boomers may find that they now have a gap in their life insurance coverage until the time that they exit the labor force.
With all of the uncertainties associated with retirement, having life insurance as a part of your plan can help with peace of mind when planning for and throughout retirement.
1,3,6,7 2015 Amica Life Financial Peace of Mind Survey.
2,4 Federal Reserve’s 2013 Survey of Consumer Finance.
5 National Institute on Aging, 2015 Global Health and Aging report.