What people say doesn’t always align with what they do. Such is the case with life insurance, a study commissioned by New York Life finds.

According to the study, most Americans don’t buy enough life insurance to secure the level of protection they say they would want for their families if they were to die. The average American registered an insurance shortfall of $320,000.

Generation Xers posted the biggest gap of any age group. Although Gen Xers said they would want their life insurance policies to cover an average of $708,996, they purchased only $260,000 in coverage on average, creating a coverage gap of $448,996. Millennials and baby boomers, in contrast, had average gaps of $370,744 and $267,016, respectively.

The gap has widened substantially for Gen Xers since the financial crisis. From 2008 to 2013, the amount of life insurance coverage they had in place fell 35% to $260,000 from $400,000. The gap impacts more than half (56%) of Gen Xers, according to the study.

“Gen Xers have been severely impacted by the economic downturn and the gap is a clear indication of what is at risk. Gen Xers, who may be focused on financial obligations that have to do with their children, their home, planning for retirement, and maybe even taking care of their elderly parents, are lacking a foundation of financial protection that life insurance provides,” Chris Blunt, president of the Insurance Group at New York Life, said in a statement.

The study is based on two separate surveys, both of which polled 1,000 Americans aged 25 and over with dependents and annual household incomes of at least $50,000. One survey was conducted online by The Futures Company from April 24 – May 1, 2013.  The other was conducted by Greenwald & Associates via telephone in May 2008.

Correia writes for Financial Planning, a SourceMedia publication.

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