Consumers have a number of misperceptions about life insurance that keep them from buying adequate coverage, according to "Getting Over the Gap: Insights on Life Insurance Coverage in the U.S.," a white paper based on Genworth Financial Inc.'s 2012 LifeJacket Study, and four groups face the largest coverage gaps: large families, unmarried parents, women and those with certain common health conditions.

"Consumers often believe life insurance costs nearly three times its actual price, and this is a major contributor to the large coverage gap we're seeing in these four groups," said Brian Bulakites, VP and national sales manager for life insurance at Genworth. "We're working to close these gaps by educating consumers on the importance of a good insurance policy. By addressing these needs now, we're able to help our customers help provide the financial resources to their loved ones that will be lost upon their death."

Large families: Either or both parents may lack life insurance due to lower income and higher expenses related to having larger families.

Unmarried parents: The Genworth's 2012 LifeJacket Study found that despite their clear need for coverage, unmarried parents are less likely to have life insurance than their married parents. The study found 59 percent of unmarried women, compared with 43 percent of those who are married, lack insurance; 69 percent of unmarried fathers lack insurance compared with 34 percent of married fathers.

Women: The study found 43 percent of married mothers lack life insurance, compared with 34 percent of married fathers.

Consumers with common health concerns: Many consumers believe the best time to buy life insurance is when they're in optimal health, but affordable coverage is becoming more accessible for those with certain health conditions as a result of advanced underwriting practices. Many common health issues, including asthma and depression, are no longer barriers to preferred life insurance rates.

Genworth recommends all adults review their life insurance coverage annually, and the white paper includes a checklist to help consumers identify changing needs and financial obligations that should be insured. The longitudinal, multi-modal study collected date over 15 months and was administered by telephone, online and mail. More than 25,000 adults across the United States were surveyed.

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