Australians are living longer and generally enjoying better physical health at each life-cycle stage from youth to retirement. But after two years of a global pandemic, more people are aware of the fragility of life and want to ensure their loved ones are looked after should the worst happen.

A desire to provide a reasonable quality of life for loved ones has always been a logical motivator for investing in life insurance. Now more Australians are reviewing their priorities and paying increased attention to how much cover they have at each life stage:

  • Late-teens to late-20s: Australians generally start thinking about life insurance when their career takes off and may opt in for cover as part of their superannuation investment. At this life stage, stepped premiums based on age tend to be more popular.
  • Late-20s to late-40s: During the prime years for getting into a relationship and growing a family, many Australians invest a significant part of their incomes in paying a mortgage or rent for the family home. At this stage, many people regularly increase their life insurance cover so it will keep a roof over their family's heads and cover education and extracurricular and car payments if anything happens to them. Level premiums budgeted at a consistent amount each year are popular.
  • Late-50s and into retirement: Once the children have left home, many Australians begin accelerating their retirement investments, especially superannuation. They often choose to reduce their level of life insurance cover as the family home has been paid off. Their priority shifts from providing for several family members (who would by this stage have their own cover) to making sure their partner will be comfortably looked after if anything happens.

While each of these life-cycle stages motivates investment in life insurance, other triggers include significant changes in your income, health and number of dependents (including children, elderly relatives or other people in your care). So it’s worth speaking with a financial adviser regularly to ensure life insurance benefits and cover will meet your changing needs.

Australia's population trends explained

During the pandemic, many Australians experienced a ‘control-alt-delete’ moment, says leading social commentator Bernard Salt. This reset may well be driving more interest in protecting quality of life by investing in life insurance, he explains.

Here are some of the big population trends from Bernard’s research that link to more people investing in life insurance:

  • COVID-19 triggered a ‘control-alt-delete’ moment: “The pandemic made people rethink and re-envision their lives – you might change jobs and move somewhere that offers a better lifestyle,” says Bernard. “It's also a time to reassess your finances and what is important to you. Suddenly you realise all of this hangs together on an income stream – and so you can see the logic driving investment in life insurance and other forms of security."
  • Australians are great investors: “Australians are big investors, not just in a house, but in safety, security and community. From 20-something-years-old right up to their late-50s, many Australians are providing support for family members. So they're thinking about the bigger picture and investing in financial security for their families.”
  • Quality of life and life expectancy are rising: “The average life expectancy for Australians has risen from 63 years in 1941, which was two years before people qualified for the pension at 65. By the 1981, life expectancy pushed out to 74, so people had nine years of retirement to look forward to and that's when retirement planning and superannuation emerged as big priorities. In 2021, the average Australian lives to 84, so that is 19 years in retirement. The most common retirement age is now around 58. So you can't be acting old in your 50s if you're going to live another 25 or 30 years. More people are investing in super for a longer retirement, and they're investing in life insurance to provide for their family if something happens.”

Learn more about the Value of Life Insurance in this special MetLife Australia report and why cover needs to change as you grow.