November 22, 2017

Widow Outraged at Prudential Insurance

By BARBARA LEONARD
MANHATTAN (CN) – A “cancer-battling widow raising three children” claims she paid life insurance premiums on her husband to Prudential for 24 years, but when her husband died, Prudential denied her policy and enforced a 2-week-old policy, with a cheaper payout, benefiting her husband’s secret mistress and unborn “out-of-wedlock baby.”

Teresa Williams sued Prudential Financial, Pruco Life Insurance Co. of New Jersey and her insurance agent, Albert Brodbeck, in New York Supreme Court. “At the same time plaintiff lost her husband and defendants attempted to terminate the policies on her husband’s life, she was battling cancer and undergoing chemotherapy,” according to the complaint. “When premiums were due on two term policies for which plaintiff was the beneficiary, defendants failed to properly communicate that information because defendants were trying to hide this mistress’ identity.”

Williams says she and her now-deceased husband, Eric, purchased their first of many insurance contracts from Brodbeck in May 1986. “In April 2008, Pruco had issued five separate, concurrent term life insurance policies on Mr. Williams’ life,” according to the complaint. Williams is the direct beneficiary of four of the policies, worth $4.25 million; the fifth was issued on behalf of Eric’s mistress, Synthia Jones, “who, at the time the policy was issued, was pregnant with Mr. Williams’ baby,” according to the complaint

In early 2008, Eric told Brodbeck that he was having an affair with a woman in Atlanta, Williams claims. “In furtherance of this scheme, Brodbeck consulted with plaintiff’s husband and suggested a way to surreptitiously insure his mistress,” according to the complaint. “He did this to obtain more premiums for him and the company he worked for, defendant Pruco.” Williams claims Brodbeck advised her husband to “develop a ‘business’ with his mistress” and make the fifth policy payable to her as his “business partner.” Prudential issued the policy for Jones 2 weeks before Eric died in May 2009, and Brodbeck instructed his staff not to tell Teresa anything about the mistress, according to the complaint. “Brodbeck did not tell plaintiff about the mistress her husband took,” the complaint states. “Nor did he tell her that the mistress was pregnant with her husband’s baby at this time or that the mistress was becoming a beneficiary of one of Eric Williams’ policies.” Teresa says she received “mixed signals” and contradicting information from Brodbeck about the policies.

“For example, she was told with respect to two policies that premiums were due in April 2009, that the policies would lapse if the premiums were not paid by May 13, 2009, and then that the policies would be switched to quarterly, and premiums would be due on June 4, 2009,” according to the complaint. “Plaintiff relied on Brodbeck to give her accurate information concerning her and Eric’s policies and so when she saw the e-mail from Brodbeck’s office that the premium was due on June 4, 2009, she followed it despite prior notices contradicting that advice.” Williams says she trusted Brodbeck and treated him as family because of their long-standing relationship. Though she paid the premium before June 4, “much to her shock, dismay and surprise, following her payment of the premiums, Pruco took the position that the two policies that plaintiff made payment for had lapsed,” according to the complaint. “Pruco cashed the checks but did not honor the policy,” Williams says.
“Moreover, they chose to treat the policy that Eric Williams bought for his mistress and their out-of-wedlock baby as enforceable.”

The policy that Pruco enforced, benefitting the mistress, had the lowest payout: $500,000. The policies that named Teresa Williams as beneficiary were each worth twice as much, and the two policies that the plaintiff was denied were worth a combined $2.25 million. “Pruco has thus prevented plaintiff, a cancer-battling widow raising three children, with a 24-year history of paying premiums to Prudential, from obtaining benefits,” the complaint states. “Without legal justification, Pruco paid the girlfriend of Eric Williams, who never owned a Pruco policy, $500,000 as beneficiary. By choosing to pay the girlfriend, Pruco saved $1,750,000, to the detriment of plaintiff.” Williams seeks orders for promissory and equitable estoppel, alleging breach of fiduciary duty, breach of insurance contract and negligent misrepresentation. She is represented by Derek Sells.

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Should I Buy Life Insurance On Child

The main reason for buying life insurance on anyone’s life is to replace income “lost” or pay for expenses caused by the death of the insured person. If your child dies, there’s no lost income, but there will be funeral, burial and related expenses that could run to thousands of dollars, which might cause a financial hardship to the parents of the deceased child.

Another reason for buying life insurance on a child’s life is to guard against the possibility that, when the child is older, he or she might not be able to buy life insurance because of intervening illness or other circumstance.

Still another reason for buying life insurance on a child’s life is part of a program to teach the child financial responsibility. Typically the insurance is whole life insurance, ownership of which is transferred to the child when he or she turns 21.

Most insurance advisors recommend that families spend their insurance budget to buy life and disability income insurance on the parents first, before considering insurance on children’s lives. Death of a parent, particularly an income-earner, could have financial consequences that are devastating compared to the financial effects from a child’s death.

My personal belief is that if a child dies, there will be an enormous amount of grieving by the parents. This will be a very tough thing to overcome. The last thing that the parent wants to deal with is money or working. A life insurance policy at least provides some peace of mind while grieving.

It is estimated that only 30% of the people in Dallas/Fort Worth Texas have life insurance. That’s too low! If you are thinking about buying life insurance in Dallas please give us a call or start an online quote. The process is simple and could be (and usually is) one of the best decisions a parent can make.

Tips To Save Money On Life Insurance

There may be a silver lining to the economic crisis that Americans have lived through over the past two years: People have become accustomed to spending less and saving more.

Even as the economy rebounds, many people continue to look for ways to keep their household budgets in check. Luckily, spending less doesn’t have to mean doing with less, especially when it comes to life insurance coverage. There are ways you can maintain your coverage, but pay less for it.

“Life insurance is a financial safety net for your loved ones, so it’s critical to maintain that coverage especially with the uncertainty that remains in the economy,” says Chad Collins, senior account executive with United Insurance Service in Fremont. “But keeping that coverage doesn’t have to be a financial burden. There are ways to save money on your existing coverage, and I’ve got some tips to help you do just that.”

September is Life Insurance Awareness Month, the perfect time to review your life insurance needs with an insurance professional. If you already have coverage, you may be able to cut costs based on the following, says Collins:

  • You’re healthier. If you have quit smoking, lost a substantial amount of weight or made significant improvements to your health, let your insurance company know. You may be able to qualify for a lower rate on your coverage.
  • Life insurance rates remain near historic lows. In fact, the cost of basic term life insurance has fallen by nearly 50 percent over the past decade. So if your family’s budget is tight and your health status hasn’t changed much since the time you last purchased coverage, you may want to apply for a new policy. If you do, make sure not to drop your current coverage until the new policy is in force.
  • Circumstances have changed. It is smart to review your policy every year to make sure it’s adequate and up to date. If the kids are out of the house, your mortgage is paid down, you’ve gotten divorced or family members no longer need your financial support, your need for life insurance coverage may have decreased. A smaller face amount policy will likely save you money.

“If people depend on you financially, life insurance is an absolute must,” says Joe Durnwald of United Insurance Service.

“But no one should pay more than they have to.”

AIG Star Life Insurance Sell

According to the Wall Street Journal, AIG Star Life Insurance Co. and AIG Edison Life Insurance could be sold to Prudential for $4 billion to $5 billion.

If Prudential does pick up these companies, it could transform its life insurance business in Japan, says John Nadel, managing director of Equity Research at Sterne Agee & Leach.

Nadel believes Prudential is strategically looking at the business to add cost saving and expand its scale. AIG Star Life Insurance and AIG Edison Life Insurance generate around $7 billion in annual premiums. An acquisition of AIG’s two Japanese units would be similar to several other deals AIG has done in Japan, and also allow Prudential to cut back office costs by using their big book of business.

“Prudential Japan and Gibraltar generate about 40% of Prudential’s earnings,” Nadel said. “An acquisition would be largely a scale play.”

Prudential has operated in Japan for around 25 years and started its business there organically. However, Prudential has also expanded in Japan through acquisitions. The company picked up Gibraltar Life in Japan in 2001, which was a reincarnation of Kyoei Life after bankruptcy. In addition, in 2009 Prudential purchased Yamato Life out of bankruptcy. An integration of the new units of Prudential would take several years, but in the long run it would be worth it, Nadel said.

“I have a lot of confidence in Pru’s ability to price deals for shareholders and integrate these units,” Nadel said. “They have a good history.”

CEO Robert Benmoshe started talks with Prudential last year, but they fell apart, and AIG had said they planned to keep those units. Nadel believes AIG may have been focusing on selling its ALICO unit before these two businesses.

“These deals take a while to work out,” Nadel said.”A similar thing happened with the Metlife (MET)deal. Metlife was looking at ALICO in late 2008. At that time AIG was focused on selling multiple businesses”

Nadel adds that the price tag sounds about right. “AIG Star Life AIG Edison Life bring in about $600 million in earnings after tax, and 7 to 8 times earnings is reasonably consistent with what the life insurance sector is trading at,” he said.

Share of Prudential were down 1.49%, or 86 cents, to $56.65 in morning trading. AIG share were down nearly 2%, to $35.85.

Empty Nest Life Insurance

Should empty nesters get life insurance?

Perhaps–if they have a lot of personal and/or business liabilities or concerns about estate taxes. Life insurance also might help those who have lost retirement income or anyone who may be left with an inadequate amount of family income if one spouse dies.

Couples who believe they no longer need life insurance after the youngest child “flies the coop”…could leave the family financially vulnerable, warns Steven Weisbart, Ph.D., financial planner with the Insurance Information Institute, Washington, D.C. “This,” he says, “is especially true in the event the sole income-earning parent dies.”

While LIMRA, Windsor, Conn., lacks data on the number of empty nesters with life insurance, other data indicate empty nesters may be short on coverage.

Married households make up 51 percent of all U.S. households, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Plus, married households typically have the highest household incomes. This group represents over 80 percent of the top two quintile income groups and 85 percent of the top 5 percent of household incomes.

So there is a better than average chance that your empty nester clients may need some extra life insurance coverage—particularly if their net worth could be hit by pending changes in the estate tax rules in 2011.

Nevertheless, more than half of all married men and women lack life insurance coverage, according to LIMRA. Only 41 percent of married men and 45 percent of married women have permanent life insurance. Just 35 percent of married men and 37 percent of married women have term life insurance.

Adam Sherman, CEO of First Trust Financial Resources, Philadelphia, says the typical empty nester household that buys life insurance has a net worth of at least $500,000. The life insurance may be used to replace lost income in case the husband or wife were to die early. Or, it may be used to provide for their children when they’re gone.

Affluent couples buy life insurance for wealth replacement or to cover future estate taxes. Unless Congress acts in 2010, the federal estate tax was slated to resume on estates valued at just $1 million. But Sherman expects Congress to restore that threshold to between $2 million and $3 million.

The affluent use second-to-die life insurance proceeds to pay estate taxes. The second-to-die policy is put into a life insurance trust to avoid estate taxes. This way, estates pass tax-free to the surviving spouse. But when the second spouse dies, insurance proceeds should cover the estate tax bill.

Using life insurance to cover estate taxes isn’t cheap. Sherman says a 65 year-old in good health would pay annual premiums of about $20,000 per $1 million of permanent insurance coverage.

In addition to high premiums, registered reps need to remind clients that first-year commissions deducted from their premiums can run more than 50 percent. And over the years, trailing commissions and insurance charges also are deducted from the premiums. Plus, state premium taxes are factored into the cost of the life insurance policy.

Sherman says he also sees empty nesters between the ages of 55 and 65 using permanent life insurance as part of their investment portfolios. They can borrow against the cash value tax-free at near-zero interest rates as a source of income.

Shawn Mauser, assistant director of life products at Northwestern Mutual, Milwaukee, says empty nesters in business partnerships often use life insurance in buy-sell agreements.

A buy-sell contract is used for sole proprietorships, partnerships and closed corporations. The business interests of the deceased or disabled are sold via the life insurance proceeds, based on a predetermined formula, to the remaining member or members of the business.

Mauser also says that well-off clients not subject to estate taxes often buy life insurance to replace social security benefits during a so-called “black out period” that occurs when the recipient dies. This generally is the period between when the survivor’s youngest child turns 16 and when the widow or widower turns 60.

He adds that life insurance is often used to offset reduced social security survivor’s benefits. Those benefits may be reduced if the survivor is younger than the 66 to 67-year-old age required to obtain full social security benefits. Further reductions might occur if the social security recipient dies before getting salary increases that might have increased his or her benefits.

Weisbart says advisors may want to conduct an insurance-needs analysis to determine if more coverage is necessary. This examines current and future income and expenses. He recommends term insurance to cover the gaps because it is lower cost than permanent insurance, such as whole life.

“In determining how much life insurance to buy, it is important to determine the need to replace ‘hidden’ income that is lost when an income-earning spouse dies,” he says. “Hidden income is money an employer contributes to an employee’s 401(k) or similar savings plan, or to pay the premiums for a family’s health insurance coverage. These savings plan contributions and subsidized insurance premium payments cost the employer thousands of dollars a year, a financial commitment that, in most instances, reverts to the surviving spouse.”

Where To Buy Life Insurance

Where to buy? It used to be fairly easy to find a life insurance agent, but they are fewer and farther between these days. Largely because prices — and thus commissions — are so low. These days, your best bet is the Internet, where you can search for and compare policies on sites like DFWLifeInsurance.com. Compare your options not only by price, but by the company’s rating, which tells you how financially secure it is.

• How much coverage you need? In general, it’s more than you think. There are a lot of rules of thumb floating and formulas floating around — many say you can just multiply your income by seven or eight — but I don’t like any of them. I think it’s better to actually take a look at your current income, and figure out how much of it your dependents would need to replace if you died. Be sure to take into consideration factors such as how long they’d need to replace your income, inflation, how they would invest the death benefit, and whether you want the policy to cover extras like paying off the mortgage, college, or an inheritance. You don’t have to do this on paper. We have a good calculator.

Choosing an Insurance Salesperson

Once you’ve picked out a policy, you can buy it directly from the company or through an insurance salesperson or broker. The cost will be the same, but it may be helpful to get some information from a local agent.

Salesperson v. broker. Normally, a salesperson sells for one company only, while a broker can place your policy with one of several. In theory, this would seem to be a reason to prefer a broker, but in practice, the integrity of the person you are dealing with is far more important than is the legal relationship to an insurance company or companies. Look for a person who will function as an ally, offering additional information and proposing alternatives — not forcing you to buy a product. If you get too much quick-sell pressure, contact someone else.

How to Find a Trustworthy Insurance Agent

Knowing you need a trustworthy agent and actually finding one are two different things.

Get recommendations. One of the best ways to find a good agent is to ask for references from friends, family members, and co-workers. Also, if you belong to a local group that puts out a newsletter or an email bulletin, post a note asking for recommendations.

Check the agent’s license. Insurance agents and brokers must obtain a license from the state in which they do business. Contact the state licensing agency and check to make sure the salesperson is licensed and doesn’t have any disciplinary proceedings pending. Many states provide this information online.

Check for complaints filed against the agent. You also might want to call the Better Business Bureau or state or local consumer affairs agencies and ask about the number of consumer complaints filed against the salesperson.

Comparison shop. Finally, speak with several agents and note whether the agent asks probing questions about your insurance needs or just tries to sell you a product. You should also compare the insurance products each agent offers to see which is the best deal and which best meets your needs.

Term Whole Life Insurance Suits Different Needs

A study conducted by the life insurance industry found that 35 million American households — roughly one out of every three families — have no coverage at all, and part of the problem is simply not understanding the options available. NY1′s Money Matters reporter Tara Lynn Wagner filed the following report on the types of policies available.

The two major categories of life insurance — term and whole life — can be viewed much like renting an apartment versus buying a house.

Term life insurance is essentially rented insurance for a set period of time — one year, 10 years, 30 years — to cover expenses that are not likely to last the rest of one’s life.

“Could be a mortgage that has a finite life. It could also be an education, so once the children are grown up and out of the house, parents may not necessary need the portion of life insurance that would have paid for college expenses,” says Prudential financial planner Bill Danas.

For more permanent needs, like the daily living expenses of a surviving spouse, one can buy a permanent policy, like whole life, universal life or variable life.

“The intention is that the policy lasts at least one day or one minute longer than you do,” says insurance agent Anthony Domino. “It’s really someone who needs coverage or some amount of coverage for their entire life.”

The proper type of permanent insurance depends on what the policyholder needs and what he or she can afford. For a big amount of coverage on a small budget, term is probably the way to go.

“Term insurance is generally going to have the lowest premium,” says Money Magazine senior editor Walter Updegrave. “For the equivalent amount of cash value or permanent insurance, the premium would be easily as much as 10 times higher.”

Just like buying a house allows the buyer to earn equity, permanent policies build cash-value over time through dividends or interest. That money not only increases the policy’s payout but is also accessible during the policyholder’s lifetime.

“It earns a competitive growth rate. It grows on a tax-deferred basis and it’s their coverage, their policy, their cash value,” says Mark Pfaff of New York Life Insurance. “So they can take a loan against it if they want. They can take full withdrawal against it.”

Since the interest rate can be very low, Updegrave says a policyholder might be better off getting the cheaper term policy and putting the extra money in a different investment vehicle. On the other hand, whole-life is a guarantee. It’s paid when the policyholder dies, regardless of how long he or she lives.

With term life, once the buyer outlives the policy, all those premium payments are essentially gone, but Updegrave says that does not make it a waste of money.

“That would be like giving the impression that I’ve wasted my money buying house insurance because my house didn’t burn down in a fire,” says Updegrave. “So what you’ve really bought over that period is the security of knowing that should you die during that time, your heirs, your children, your spouse will be taken care of.”

Life Insurance Agency Ratings

How can I assess the financial strength of an insurance company?

Four independent agencies—A.M. Best, Fitch, Moody’s and Standard & Poor’s—rate the financial strength of insurance companies. Each has its own rating scale, its own rating standards, its own population of rated companies, and its own distribution of companies across its scale. Each agency uses numbers or plusses and minuses to indicate minor variations in rating from another rating class.

The agencies disagree often enough so that you should consider a company’s rating from two or more agencies before judging whether to buy or keep a policy from that company. Moreover, agencies will announce changes of ratings on any day. It’s probably prudent to check annually on the ratings of any company you’re interested in.

Some points for using the ratings:

Don’t rely only on what the insurance companies say about their ratings from these agencies. Companies are likely to highlight a higher rating from one agency and ignore a lower one from another agency, or to select the most favorable comments from a rating agency’s report.

To use the ratings from more than one independent agency, you need to understand that each agency’s rating code is different from the others. For example, an A+ from A.M. Best is the next-to-top rating of its 15 categories, but an A+ from Fitch or S&P is their 5th-highest rating (out of 24 categories for Fitch, and out of 19 categories for S&P). Moreover, Moody’s doesn’t have an A+ rating.

However, the ratings can be classified into “secure” and “vulnerable” mega-categories. Here, as of August 2009, are the rating scales for each of the “secure” rating classes, and all the “vulnerable” classes combined (source: The Insurance Forum, September 2009 issue).

Rating Agency Category Description A.M. Best A++ Superior 23 2.4 A+ Superior 110 11.5 A Excellent 232 24.2 A- Excellent 280 29.2 B Very good 135 14.1 B Very good 100 10.4 B and lower Vulnerable 78 8.1 Fitch AAA Exceptionally strong 10 3.2 AA+ Very strong 10 3.2 AA Very strong 32 10.4 AA- Very strong 55 17.8 A+ Strong 78 25.2 A Strong 53 17.2 A- Strong 33 10.7 BBB+ Good 14 4.5 BBB Good 6 1.9 BBB- Good 11 3.6 BB and lower Vulnerable 7 1.2 Moody’s Aaa Exceptional 6 3.3 Aa1 Excellent 7 3.8 Aa2 Excellent 9 4.9 Aa3 Excellent 35 19.0 A1 Good 50 27.2 A2 Good 26 14.1 A3 Good 13 7.1 Baa1 Adequate 10 5.4 Baa2 Adequate 2 1.1 Baa3 Adequate 12 6.5 Ba1 and lower Vulnerable 14 7.5 S & P AAA Extremely strong 15 4.4 AA+ Very strong 14 4.1 AA Very strong 27 7.8 AA- Very strong 66 19.2 A+ Strong 64 18.6 A Strong 77 22.4 A- Strong 33 9.6 BBB+ Good 15 4.4 BBB Good 4 1.2 BBB- Good 9 2.6 BB and lower Vulnerable 20 5.8 The Street.com A+ Excellent 6 0.9 A Excellent 14 2.1 A- Excellent 35 5.3 B+ Good 61 9.2 B Good 152 23.0 B- Good 105 15.9 C+ Fair 89 13.4 C Fair 113 17.1 C- Fair 61 9.2 D+ and lower Vulnerable 126 19.0

Everyone Needs Life Insurance

No Matter Age or Facebook Status, Everyone Needs Life Insurance

There’s a voluntary life insurance plan to fit every stage of life.

COLUMBIA, S.C., Sept. 9 /PRNewswire/ — Married, single, young, older or in-between—voluntary life insurance plans can help meet coverage needs for every stage in life. “Life insurance is an essential part of a sound financial plan,” says Pam Jenkins, director of life products for Colonial Life & Accident Insurance Company. “Like other financial needs, life insurance needs can vary during different periods in life.”

Celebrate national Life Insurance Awareness Month(1) in September by taking stock of life insurance needs and getting the coverage needed for all stages of life.

Employers can help their employees get the coverage they need by offering voluntary life insurance plans in their company-provided benefits programs. This approach gives employees life insurance choices for their unique needs and situations. For example, each life stage brings its own financial responsibilities—ones that life insurance can help protect:

  • Single – Many singles are just beginning their careers and have limited financial obligations. This is a good time to acquire life insurance at the most affordable rates—at a young age and while in good health. For someone who’s single again, this is an appropriate time to reassess life insurance needs.
  • Married – Married couples usually have increasing financial obligations, such as a home mortgage. They may also be growing in their careers, changing jobs and getting pay raises. These changes provide the opportunity to add or increase cash value life insurance, buy coverage for their spouse or add more term life coverage to address growing financial needs.
  • Children – Families experience changes that create their highest financial commitments: buying a larger house, saving for college, advancing in careers and planning for retirement. Families may want to increase their life plan’s death benefit, add term life for protection during these high-need years or consider juvenile life insurance for dependent children. They may even choose to borrow against a life plan’s cash value, if needed, and repay it later.
  • Late career/retirement – The nest is empty, the children are grown and it’s time to spoil the grandchildren. In this life stage, financial obligations are decreasing, and a review of life insurance is important. At this point, term life insurance typically ends or becomes too costly. Cash value life insurance continues after retirement, and if coverage needs have decreased, this may be a good time to reduce a cash value life insurance’s death benefit or premium.

“Often, people don’t think about the lost income from a spouse or family member and their day-to-day living expenses,” Jenkins says. “Life insurance can help pay final expenses, such as funeral costs and medical bills. It’s also a good way to pay off debt for credit cards, car loans, children’s education and mortgages.”

(1) Colonial Life is a sponsor of the seventh annual national Life Insurance Awareness Month in September, an industry-wide campaign coordinated by the LIFE Foundation in Washington, D.C., to educate consumers about the benefits of life insurance. Life Insurance Awareness Month was created in response to growing concern about the large number of Americans who lack adequate life insurance protection. Held each September, Life Insurance Awareness Month is an industry-wide effort that is coordinated by the LIFE Foundation.

For more information about Colonial Life’s voluntary life insurance plans contact us.

Colonial Life & Accident Insurance Company is a market leader in providing insurance benefits for employees and their families through their workplace, along with individual benefits education, advanced yet simple-to-use enrollment technology and quality personal service. Colonial Life offers disability, life and supplemental accident and health insurance policies in 49 states and the District of Columbia. Similar policies, if approved, are underwritten in New York by a Colonial Life affiliate, The Paul Revere Life Insurance Company, Worcester, Mass. Colonial Life is based in Columbia, S.C., and is a subsidiary of Unum Group, one of the world’s leading providers of employee benefits. For more information, visit www.ColonialLife.com.

Exclusions and limitations may apply. Benefits may vary by state.

SOURCE Colonial Life

tags: life insurance,term life insurance, life insurance planning, stages of life insurance, life insurance information

Workers With Lower Incomes Lag In Insurance

The Hartford Survey: Workers with Lower Incomes Lag Behind in Life Insurance Knowledge, Participation

Sep 08, 2010 (Close-Up Media via COMTEX) –Lower income and less educated workers lag behind in the understanding and purchasing of life insurance than employees with higher household income and education, according to a recent national survey by The Hartford Financial Services Group.

The Hartford’s national survey of full-time workers showed employees with a high school education had the lowest level of understanding of life insurance and were least likely to sign up for this benefit (65 percent) compared to workers with a college degree. Thirty percent of workers with only a high school education said they completely understand life insurance.

Survey respondents with a household income of less than $50,000 were least likely to completely understand life insurance (29 percent) and were least likely to sign up for this benefit (64 percent). The average earnings for a full-time U.S. worker is nearly $38,500, which translates to a considerable segment of the employee population that would fall into this category, noted Ron Gendreau, executive VP, The Hartford’s Group Benefits.

“We are concerned that many working Americans are putting their family’s financial security at risk. No matter what your income level, you can benefit from life insurance,” Gendreau said. “We’re encouraging all employees to get up-to-speed on the protection this month – Life Insurance Awareness Month.”

The overall number of workers signing up for life insurance benefits increased from 64 percent in 2009 to 69 percent in 2010. Women showed the biggest jump in participation, going from 60 percent last year to 69 percent this year. Men increased their participation by two percentage points to 70 percent in 2010.

The Hartford’s survey found Generation Y (ages 18-29) had the lowest level of life insurance understanding and participation compared to Generation X (ages 30-44) and Baby Boomers (ages 45-65). 64 percent of Gen Y said they completely or mostly understand life insurance compared with 77 percent Gen X and 79 percent of Boomers. Gen Y had a 64 percent participation rate compared to 70 percent for Gen X and 71 percent for Boomers.

The Hartford recently enhanced its group life coverage by offering expedited payment of death benefits. In this new payment process, beneficiaries who use funeral planning services provided by Everest Funeral Planning may receive death benefits in as little as 48 hours from the date of death. The death benefit may be expedited in instances where the insured died from natural causes and the cause of death is not being investigated.