Americans are not buying life insurance because they overestimate its costs. That’s the main finding of this year’s Insurance Barometer Study, an annual survey by insurance advocacy groups LIMRA and LIFE Foundation.

The study found that consumers believe insurance costs to be nearly three times the actual price. Younger adults overestimate the cost almost sevenfold.

Survey participants estimated the annual cost of a 20-year, $250,000, level-term life policy for a healthy 30-year-old consumer to be $400. The actual cost is roughly $150. 

According to the survey, nearly a third of all consumers believe they need more life insurance, including 20% of current policyholders and about half of those who do not have any coverage. But the perceived high cost of insurance was stopping most  (83%) from purchasing the coverage they say they need.

“If people think that something is too pricey, they often won’t give it a second thought. The fact is, the cost for basic term life insurance has fallen by about 50% over the past 10 years and has never been more affordable,” Marvin H. Feldman, president and CEO of the LIFE Foundation, said in a statement.

The study found that the most underserved markets — namely women, younger adults and minorities — are most aware of their need for more insurance. For example, 42% of African Americans and 37% of Hispanics say they need more life insurance, compared with 32% of the total population who said so.

While life insurance is a necessity, it falls behind other priorities, such as having enough money for a comfortable retirement, consumers’ top financial concern, the study found.  Other top priorities include paying the mortgage or rent or losing money on investments. 

The nationwide survey polled 2,011 individuals between the ages of 18 and 75 who shared or were the sole decision maker for financial matters in the household.


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