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BW Businessworld

Women And Insurance: Time To Bridge The Gap

This International Women's Day, give her something different to show how important a woman is

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Women constitute almost half of India’s population. And for a country where until quite recently women were not considered to be the main breadwinners of the family, the last few years have been high-impact. There’s a slow yet steady growth of women in all sectors – at work and at home. More and more women have joined the workforce, even in areas that were traditionally considered male-centric. Their contribution to the economy and to nation-building is becoming even more significant – irrespective of whether they are working or are homemakers. And an increasing number of women are asserting their right to lead a free, empowered life, have their voices heard and empower other women around them. From small-towns to larger metros, women have started taking control of their lives. These are truly exciting times to be a woman!

Yet, a recent study by IRDAI portrays a bleak picture. Just about 32% of women have bought any kind of insurance last year, in contrast to 68% of men. This is bleak, because the purchase of insurance has a direct correlation to the perceived value of a person’s life. And this is bleak, because women are the backbone of the entire societal ecosystem. So, if there is a reduced perceived value to their lives, then have we really progressed as much as we think?

Why should Women buy Insurance?

Actually, the question should be ‘Why not’. Women are the chief caregivers of any family. The family balance tilts when they fall sick, even for a day. They do everything men do, and more. So when 68% of men are buying insurance products, why is the number so low for women?

The last decade has seen a slow yet steady progress in the insurance industry, as far as gender dynamics are concerned There has been an increasing focus on insurance targeted at women – be it housewives or professionally working women. Insurance companies have started to realize the importance of women customers and have devised either women-centric insurance plans or targeted marketing plans to attract women. Still, considering the low number of policies bought for women last year, obviously a lot more needs to be done to make women aware of why they need insurance and help them choose the right ones.

Buying the right Insurance

Ideally there should be no difference in the policy women can or should buy depending on their personal/ professional status. But the fact is insurance offers financial protection from liabilities that can arise out of certain kinds of mishaps. So, the product to be bought varies based on a woman’s lifestage and working status, though of course there are some products that are common to all. Moreover, the premium is generally lower for women – all the more reason for women to stay insured!

Professionally Working Women  

  1. Life insurance policies protect the insured from the loss of income due to disability or death, and hence must be bought by all working women who have dependents, irrespective of whether their spouses/parents have term plans.
  2. Pension/Retirement Plans are investment instruments through which one can allocate a part of their income to savings. Over a period of time, these savings accumulate and the insured gets a steady income at the end of a pre-determined term or on retirement.  

Mothers and Would-be Mothers

  1. Considering the high cost of pregnancy and childbirth, health insurance plans with maternity benefit are a must for all those who are planning to be mothers. While most insurance companies offer these as add-ons to health insurance plans, there are others who offer standalone pregnancy covers.
  2. More than 28 million couples in India suffer from infertility, and the number is rising by an average of 10% every year. The treatment is prohibitively expensive, dashing the hopes of many prospective parents. An infertility cover or add-on with the health insurance can help more couples go in for infertility treatments.
  3. For parents, there’s no greater joy than see their child fulfil her dreams. A child insurance plan can help take care of the child’s future needs, including education, marriage etc.

Insurance Plans which are common across life stages –

  1. Health Insurance Plans: Health insurance policies protect the insured from financial losses arising out of any ailments or even life events like childbirth. They also cover periodic check-ups, essential in today’s times. The rapid growth of lifestyle and debilitating diseases makes it critical for women to stay insured. Add-ons for critical illnesses, maternity, congenital birth defects, disability etc. can also be bought depending on need.
  2. Life Insurance Plans: Offering death as well as maturity benefit, life insurance should become a part and parcel of the investment portfolio for all women, irrespective of their life stage. The insured gets a lump sum (assured amount) at the end of maturity period if they are still alive. In case of their deaths, their nominees get the amount.
  3. Motor Insurance Plans: Motor insurance is a must for any woman driving her own vehicle. These plans offer financial protection from losses arising out of damages, accidents or injuries to others. In India, third party motor insurance is mandatory, but a comprehensive policy can offer complete peace of mind to the owner.

So, this International Women’s Day, while the world is striving to #BalanceForBetter, it might be a great time for women to buy an insurance for themselves. To make their future more secure.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house. Unless otherwise noted, the author is writing in his/her personal capacity. They are not intended and should not be thought to represent official ideas, attitudes, or policies of any agency or institution.

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Women's Day international women's day insurance

Anand Prabhudesai

The author is Co-Founder, Turtlemint

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