In Focus: Advice for Women  

Advisers must help clients protect 'unpaid work'


Insuring the "unpaid work" that family members do is a vital aspect of protection planning, a senior insurance adviser has said.

Speaking on the latest FTAdviser In Focus Fireside Chat, Kathryn Knowles, director and co-founder of Cura Financial Services, said a big part of the advice process is to encourage couples to cover the "unpaid" work that is done for the family.

Knowles said: "I remember having this conversation when someone asked why they would insure their spouse, when they were not earning anything?

"Something I tend to do is to ask them how much a live-in nanny or au-pair costs. I then say well, it costs X amount a year in salary, which is the equivalent of what this partner is bringing to the household. 

"You want to be looking at insuring them for the very least what you would be paying for someone else. If they die or are too ill to work, the partner will have to reduce their hours, which will affect their income, or go part-time or pay for full-time childcare."

More than this, she pointed to the other elements that would also need to be funded should the lower-earning or non-earning partner become too ill to help. 

This includes any caring for older family members, which would otherwise need to be paid for, as well as services such as gardening or cleaning.

More often than not, it is the woman who provides these caring roles, and even if she is not bringing money into the household, the value of the work she does still needs to be protected.

A study carried out in 2020 by charity Oxfam revealed that if American women received a minimum wage for the unpaid care work they do around the house, including caring for relatives, they would have made $1.5tn (£1.08tn) in 2019.

Globally, women would have earned $10.9tn (£7.9tn), the study suggested.

Knowles said: "It is hard for people to think about this, but it is a reality that quite a few people face. Therefore it is important as advisers that we are realistic and look at the family as a whole."

As a result, she makes sure that when it comes to the advice process, a couple is advised as such. 

To listen to the full fireside chat, click on the image above.