Women live forever and men just die
By Steve Savant
Back at the nursing home, I became curious and began to count the Sunday morning attendees — the ratio of women to men was 7 to 1!
I was visiting a nursing home for a Sunday morning service when I noticed there were hardly any men. I thought to myself, perhaps a few men might have visitors or some men might be in the infirmary or perhaps most men just aren't religious. So I turned to Agnes, one of the nursing home residents, and asked, “Where are all the men?”
Agnes, 86, just sighed and replied, “These are all the men in the entire facility.”
Then I recalled a comment I heard from an actuary at Lincoln Benefit Life at the close the 20th century, “Women live forever and men just die.”
At that point, the vast majority of life insurance carriers had little or no survivorship death claims. Yes, the men had died according to the actuarial tables, but the women lived well beyond projected life expectancy.
Back at the nursing home, I became curious and began to count the Sunday morning attendees — the ratio of women to men was 7 to 1! This brought new meaning to the old Jan and Dean song, “Two girls for every boy.” I mean 7 to 1!
I went over to the front row and sat down next to a man in a wheel chair and shared my observation about the ratio of women to men. He started shaking his head and said, “I’m in heaven and I can’t do a thing about it.”
I was thinking about the man as I wrote this article. I was musing over the possibility of him being the last man in the nursing home. I thought to myself, “He’s the last man out,” which generated another thought. That’s my new survivorship product name: Last Man Out.
Then I remembered, no, men are the first. Then I had an economic epiphany, “Men are first in, first out.” No, I’m not talking about the annuity basis withdrawal rule prior to 1982, just the thought that survivorship polices are cash cows for carriers because “women live forever and men just die.”
The relatively new 2008 Society of Actuaries Valuation Based Tables push “herizons” (no it’s not spelled wrong) of female longevity to new frontiers that may begin to challenge Methuselah. After all, Agnes was 86 when I met her in 2001 and she’s still walking today! Yes, she’s slower, but still walking without a walker.
If Agnes makes it to age 100, she’ll be celebrated by nationally known weatherman Willard Scott, who daily spotlights people turning 100. Consider the carrier product inventory of maturity dates at 121. Then consider American General at 131. And don’t forget the few carriers who actually use the phrase, “life of the insured.” Yeah, no numbers.
Why are these carriers pushing the final frontiers of female longevity? As Star Trek Captain James T. Kirk is fond of saying, “To boldly go where no man has gone before.”
You got that right Jimmy. No man — it’s going to be a woman. Eve might have been second in the garden, but she’ll be the last on the planet. By the way, you'd better find a replacement for old Willard. And you better make his replacement a woman.
Look at these guaranteed premiums for a male and female, both age 65, million dollar death benefit to age 100: First place $10,382. Tenth place premium on the survivorship spreadsheet is $12,836. That’s a tight grid from one to 10.
There are at least 15 carriers that issue life insurance policies up to age 90. Genworth’s survivorship goes up to issue age 94 under certain conditions at all rate classes. Some carriers title their joint life insurance “second to die,” but it should be retitled, “when the woman dies.”
It seems like every manufacturer of survivorship is collecting premiums they never counted on. Cash registers are ringing and the actuaries are singing, (here’s the chorus)”We’ve went and crunched the numbers and the numbers don’t lie. Women live forever and men just die.”