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Stay-at-home parents contribute a lot to their families—more than $160,000 annually, according to one estimate. But since their work at home doesn’t come in the form of actual dollars going into a bank account, it can be difficult to see their value. 

It can also be difficult to justify buying life insurance for someone who doesn’t have an income. Since life insurance is generally meant to replace the income that one partner contributes to a household, why do they need it if they have no income to replace? 

The answer lies in the fact that their household contributions would be missed, and someone else might have to be paid to do that work. Non-employed married moms spend 3.8 hours each day on household activities and 4.2 hours on childcare, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. 

Those numbers can vary, however, and an online calculator such as the one created by salary.com can help stay-at-home parents find a comparable wage for the hours they work at home. The calculator allows users to input the number of hours spent on housework, child care, home maintenance, cooking, driving and other tasks. Overtime pay is also considered. 

A term life insurance policy may be a good choice for parents who stay at home and take care of their children. As the name implies, the policy is good for a “term,” such as 20 years, and will pay off if the insured dies during that time. That can be enough time to cover caring for the children and sending them to college. Or, a parent may return to the workforce earlier, requiring a shorter policy.

Life insurance coverage is often reviewed during major lifestyle changes. These include a child’s birth, buying a new home, getting a raise at work or starting a new job. All can require increasing life insurance coverage, with the most expensive need being a lost salary, followed by a home mortgage. Without one income to help pay a mortgage, life insurance can fill that gap. 

Even after children leave home, non-working spouses may still want to have life insurance. Not only will the unpaid work they do at home have to be replaced, but there may be funeral costs and other things a surviving spouse may have to deal with. 

Ultimately, that’s what life insurance is for—to take care of your loved ones after you’re gone.

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