How much are Mum and Dad worth?

How do you put a price on a parent? This isn’t a question that any family would want to ask, but how could you ever compensate for the loss of a mother or father should the worst happen? Insurance, and specifically life cover, may not be able to ease the emotional pain of bereavement, but it can at least alleviate money worries and minimise the financial impact on your family’s lifestyle.

Life insurance cover is therefore a must-have for most families – but all too often in households where one parent works part-time, stays at home or spends more time with the children, the focus is on replacing the salary of the main breadwinner. Though this is crucial when working out how you’d pay the mortgage and bills if one parent were lost, it’s important to take all roles into consideration when assessing the cover you need from a life insurance policy.

Sharing the workload?

Though roles and responsibilities appear to have changed over the years, with many more men taking on the role of primary carer than perhaps a generation ago, it seems mothers still tend to do the majority of childcare – an average 29 hours a week, compared to 20 hours a week for men, according to a survey by Legal & General. Even women in full-time employment do 30% more childcare than men in full-time work, claims the Fawcett Society, an organisation campaigning for gender equality. The same goes for housework: the average full-time mum puts in 71 hours a week on all domestic tasks and chores. That’s a lot of cooking, cleaning and clearing-up.

Other tasks that shouldn’t be overlooked are: shopping for food and family necessities, looking after pets, doing the school run or dropping the kids off to any of their sporting or social activities, gardening – the list could go on! With all of these extra duties and demands placed on parents, it’s easy to see how just as many hard-working hours are put into raising a family as into any other full time job.

Domestic services

Families usually think about their finances in terms of the salaries they earn and the money they bring into the household – but you should also perhaps think about the value of all that unpaid work. L&G estimates that, to replace the domestic work done by the average mother with hired-in help from a cleaner, housekeeper, child-minder, nanny or other domestic staff, you’d need nearly £30,000 a year (or over £21,000 for a father). Full-time stay-at-home mothers do an estimated £31,500-worth of domestic work a year.

In fact, in the early 1970’s, the International Wages for Housework Campaign and the Global Women’s Strike fought to highlight the importance of the home carer role.  Figures from the Office of National Statistics from 2002 have also estimated that housework would be worth a phenomenal £700bn to the UK’s economy, if it were paid.

Set up a safety net

So when reviewing your family’s financial protection and deciding on whether you think you’re fully covered, don’t forget the full value of what you’re worth. Life insurance policies should include cover for a parent who is the primary carer as well as for the main earner in the household.

Advice provided by Sainsbury’s Finance.

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