With End-of-Life Preparedness, Actions Speak Louder Than Words, Ethos Survey Finds

Date:


Americans would rather talk about money, sex and politics than death

AUSTIN, Texas, July 13, 2022 /PRNewswire/ — More than two-thirds (68%) of Americans say discussing end-of-life preparations with family/loved ones is important, but fewer than half (47%) have actually done so, according to new survey data from Ethos, one of the largest term life insurance providers in the U.S. The finding is just one of a series of disconnects the survey uncovered between what people say and/or think and what they do.

Americans are thinking about death more often, but they don’t want to talk about it

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Half (50%) of Americans say that during the last two years they’ve thought about death more often. Nearly half (45%) think about death at least monthly and 23% think about death on a daily basis. More Gen Z’ers (35%) think about death every day than any other generation, compared to 29% of Millennials, 21% of Gen X and 14% of Boomers.

While they’re thinking about death more, Americans still don’t want to talk about it, and in fact they’d rather talk about anything else. When asked to rank their willingness to talk about traditionally taboo topics, 81% of Americans chose money, followed by mental health (58%), sex (46%), politics (42%) and religion (41%) — death came in dead last (32%). Even among those who believe it’s important to discuss end-of-life planning with loved ones, just five percent were most willing to talk about death — their most preferred topics were money and mental health.

Among traditionally taboo topics, women prefer discussing mental health and religion, whereas men prefer talking sex and politics:

Which topics would you be most willing to talk about?

Total

Women

Men

Money

81 %

79 %

83 %

Mental Health

58 %

70 %

44 %

Sex

46 %

40 %

53 %

Politics

42 %

33 %

52 %

Religion

41 %

44 %

38 %

Death

32 %

34 %

30 %


“Given how reluctant people are to talk about death, perhaps it shouldn’t have surprised us that many people also haven’t done much to prepare for it,” said Nichole Myers, Chief Underwriter at Ethos. “Still, the important thing to remember is it’s almost never too late.”

Americans say discussing end-of-life preparations with family/loved ones is important, but fewer than half have actually done so

More than two-thirds (68%) of Americans say discussing end-of-life preparations with family/loved ones is important, but fewer than half (47%) have done so (another 27% say they plan to in 2022). Even among those who say that discussing end-of-life preparations with family and loved ones is important, just over half (58%) have actually done so. The disconnect is especially evident among women: 93% of women say it’s at least somewhat important to discuss end-of-life planning with family and loved ones vs. 88% of men; 39% of women say it’s extremely important vs. 30% of men.

Forty-two percent would prefer to die suddenly and avoid end-of-life planning altogether. This number increases with age: 37% of Gen Z and 41% each of Millennials and Gen X said this, compared to 46% of Boomers.

Despite thinking about death more than any other generation, only 45% of Gen Z think it’s important to discuss end-of-life planning, compared to 70% of Millennials, 74% of Gen X and 74% of Boomers.

More than half (58%) say life insurance is one of the most important end-of-life preparations one can make, but just 48% currently have a policy and most are unprepared for death

The disconnect is most striking with Millennials and Gen X. Sixty-five percent of Millennials and 64% of Gen X said life insurance is one of the most important end-of-life preparations to make, but just 55% and 49%, respectively, own life insurance policies.

Myers said, “Even before the pandemic we knew that about five percent of kids will lose a parent before the age of 15. If the loss is a breadwinning parent, most families will go bankrupt. Yet many people are not eligible for life insurance given the current industry ‘buy box.’ As an industry we need to make it easier to purchase life insurance and make it available to nearly everyone. It’s a critical part of the social safety net.”

After the 48% of people who have life insurance, the preparedness numbers drop sharply:

  • 25% have made a will
  • 23% have written down important passwords (banking, cell phone, streaming services) to make them available to surviving loved ones
  • 20% have signed a living will/advanced health care directive
  • 18% have written down their wishes for their remains
  • 12% have made a trust
  • 11% have prepaid for funeral expenses and/or burial plot
  • 10% have made arrangements for who will take care of their child(ren)
  • 10% have made arrangements for who will take care of their pet(s)
  • 9% have prepared personal messages for family members/loved ones
  • 8% have planned their funeral, down to the music playlist

Over a third (37%) of Americans haven’t done anything to prepare for death, although that varies significantly by age. Perhaps predictably, older generations, higher income individuals and married/partnered people have done more end-of-life planning than others. Only 26% of Boomers haven’t done anything to prepare for death compared to 36% of Gen X, 45% of Gen Z and 46% of Millennials. Fifty-eight percent of married/partnered Americans have life insurance, compared to 37% of single Americans, and 33% of married/partnered Americans have made a will, compared to 17% of single Americans. A third (34%) of people with household incomes over $100K have created a will, compared to 20% of people with household incomes under $50K. More men (29%) have made wills than women (21%). A full 15% of Gen Z have planned their funeral, down to the music playlist.

Americans are more likely to have insured their home or car than their life

When it comes to insurance, health insurance (76%) is the most owned by Americans, but more have insured things like their car (71%) or home (52%) compared to their own life (48%); 7% don’t have any kind of insurance at all.

Gen Z is more likely than other generations to have insurance for their cell phone (45%, vs. 23% of Boomers), their TV or electronics (29%, vs. 15% of Boomers), their pet (27%, vs. 4% of Boomers), or a trip (13%, vs. 6% of Boomers).

Men have more types of insurance than women, with one exception — cell phone insurance:

  • 76% of men currently have car insurance vs. 66% of women
  • 57% of men currently have home or renters insurance vs. 46% of women
  • 51% of men currently have life insurance vs. 45% of women
  • 32% of women currently have cell phone insurance vs. 26% of men

Death will look different in a generation: boomers stick to cremation while Gen Z eyes diamonds, records and space

Most Americans (81%) have decided what they’d like done with their body after they die, but a shift in preferences and plans means end-of-life practices could look significantly different in decades ahead. Boomers are set on cremation (45%); other generations much less so:

After you’ve died, what would you like done
with your body?

Total

Gen Z

(18-25)

Millennial

(26-41)

Gen X

(42-57)

Boomer+

(58-100)

Cremation

34 %

19 %

29 %

34 %

45 %

Cemetery burial

17 %

20 %

16 %

16 %

19 %

Organ donor

15 %

13 %

16 %

15 %

13 %

Buried in a personal land plot

9 %

11 %

10 %

11 %

6 %

Donated to science

4 %

6 %

5 %

3 %

3 %

Other

3 %

2 %

3 %

3 %

2 %

I haven’t decided what I’d like done with my remains

19 %

29 %

21 %

16 %

12 %


Boomers are also the least enthusiastic about non-traditional options for their remains. The only non-traditional option that interested a significant number of them (21%) is being composted, about the same percentage as other age groups; 61% said they wouldn’t consider any of them. Gen Z, in contrast, is the most adventurous generation when it comes to end-of-life plans:

If the following less traditional options
were accessible to you, which would you
want for your body after you’ve died?

Total

Gen Z

(18-25)

Millennial

(26-41)

Gen X

(42-57)

Boomer+

(58-100)

Composted to give back to the earth

20 %

20 %

21 %

18 %

21 %

Compressed into a diamond

14 %

22 %

16 %

15 %

6 %

Frozen/preserved so I could wake up again

12 %

17 %

16 %

12 %

3 %

Burial at sea or a ‘Viking funeral’

10 %

13 %

15 %

8 %

4 %

Dropped to the bottom of the ocean

9 %

16 %

11 %

9 %

3 %

Shot into space

7 %

11 %

8 %

7 %

4 %

Made into a vinyl record for my family to play

7 %

15 %

10 %

4 %

3 %

Made into fireworks & displayed

7 %

11 %

9 %

9 %

3 %

None of the above, I’d only go with a traditional option

46 %

34 %

36 %

45 %

61 %


Men and women imagine somewhat different ends: 12% of men would be interested in burial at sea or a “Viking funeral” compared to 7% of women, and 10% of men would be interested in being shot into space, compared to 5% of women; conversely 18% of women would be interested in being compressed into a diamond, compared to just 10% of men.

When it comes to the paranormal, angels outrank zombies

More than half (56%) of Americans believe in the paranormal – spirits, ghosts, vampires and zombies, and more women are believers across the board.

Which do you believe in?

Total

Women

Men

Heaven and/or Hell

60 %

67 %

54 %

Angels

55 %

63 %

47 %

Living on through memories of people we loved

53 %

63 %

43 %

Spirits

48 %

55 %

40 %

Ghosts

35 %

40 %

30 %

Reincarnation

27 %

32 %

22 %

Vampires

7 %

9 %

5 %

Zombies

6 %

5 %

6 %

Other

2 %

1 %

4 %

I don’t believe in any of these things

11 %

6 %

15 %


Thirty-six percent of Gen Z believes in reincarnation, compared to 19% of Boomers, 26% of Gen X and 32% of Millennials.

Ethos is a technology company that makes it easy for everyone to protect their families with life insurance. It leverages deep technology and data science to eliminate traditional barriers to life insurance and bring the industry into the modern age. This full-stack technology platform creates a seamless customer experience; an online application process that takes minutes instead of weeks and offers coverage without any medical exams. Ethos has streamlined the life insurance process so it’s more accessible and convenient.

Ethos is dedicated to providing access to life insurance for a broader demographic of U.S. families, giving particular focus to the inclusion of more women and low-/middle-income Americans. The insurtech leader is working to protect families of all ages and occupations, including people who haven’t thought about life insurance before, who thought they couldn’t qualify or who thought they couldn’t afford it.

Ethos has offices in Austin, San Francisco, Seattle, India and Singapore, and team members in 35 states and four countries.

Methodology

Ethos conducted this research using an online survey prepared by Method Research and distributed by RepData among n=1,000 adults ages 18+ in the United States. The sample was representative of the national population in geography, age and gender. Data was collected from March 25 – April 1, 2022.

About Ethos

Ethos is a technology company. We make it easier than ever for everyone to protect their families with life insurance. Ethos has created the insurance industry’s most advanced proprietary technology, eliminating the traditional barriers to life insurance by developing instant and accessible products that make it easy for everyone to protect their families with life insurance online, in minutes without any medical exams. We issue billions in coverage each month and an invaluable amount of peace of mind for our families every single day. Ethos is a global company, with offices in Austin, San Francisco, Seattle, India, and Singapore. To learn more, visit www.ethoslife.com.

SOURCE Ethos



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