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The insurance industry plays a critical role in taking care of the financial emergencies and needs of millions of households and individuals every year. From financially safeguarding homes against natural and man-made disasters to providing much-needed financial assistance to families in case of the untimely death of the breadwinner of the family. From taking care of the expenses incurred on car repairs in case of an accident to providing assistance for medical emergencies.Today, insurance covers everything you could think of.

But does the insurance industry have good enough presence among women consumers in India?

A report by Mint states that women represent only 20 to 30 percent of the total lives covered by the country’s major life insurers (including LIC).

If we look at an international report jointly presented by AXA, IFC-World Bank, and Accenture in the year 2015, it reveals that there’s tremendous scope for growth for the insurance industry in emerging economies like India if they explore the untapped market of insurance designed for women. It further reveals that this untapped market alone can bring the industry a business of up to USD 1.7 trillion by 2030.

In the Indian scenario, the traditional belief is that women do not need insurance. This belief stems from a rather patriarchal argument – if she does not earn, then how is her death going to have financial repercussions on the family? This mindset makes a woman’s life less likely to be covered under insurance plans.

Nevertheless, it isn’t like women do not opt for insurance at all. Things are changing, but they are changing at a gradual pace. Year-on-year statistics demonstrate clearly that more and more women are purchasing plans from a variety of categories, including health, life, term, and so on.

What else is it then that we need to work on to increase the pace? Major insurance companies need to do more when it comes to launching woman-friendly insurance plans. Why? The reasons are:

Women Have Special Needs

Women bear children. While men may support them financially, a study reveals that of the total new mothers, 46.6% get pushed into poverty because of the medical expenses resulting from maternity. And this is not limited to women who are financially dependent on their husbands. 35% of working women revealed that the maternity benefits provided by their employers had poor provisions.

These numbers must serve as wake-up calls to insurers. Providing an in-built maternity cover (without additional premiums) with life insurance policies bought by women will not only help women manage maternity expenses but will also encourage them to buy life insurance products at an early stage in life.

Income and Savings Disparity

A recent report discloses that women earn 20% lesser than men. Naturally, they have lower savings and investments as well. This has a direct impact on how an average woman in India handles her financial emergencies.

Considering this aspect, if insurance products are made cheaper for women and if adequate awareness is created about these products, then the chances of women becoming the industry’s major growth drivers are high.

The modern Indian woman plays a multi-faceted role. This makes it even more necessary for them to get covered under relevant insurance policies. Besides, there’s also a dire need for insurers to reach out to women clients with more effective products – products that pay special attention to a woman’s specific needs and her economic disadvantages. Only if we as a society realize the importance of life and other insurance policies in a woman’s life and work towards protecting her financially, will we be able to achieve overall economic growth.

(With inputs from Livemint, World Bank, and Economic Times)

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