The gap between Americans' average life insurance coverage and the amount they say they need widened from $289,378 in 2008 to $320,000 in 2013, the survey found. Even though survey respondents appear to have cut back over those five years, and said in 2013 that they need less coverage, their median insurance holdings dropped further, from $300,000 to $220,000. Life insurance policies now cover an average of 59 percent of what Americans say they need.
"We were fairly surprised by how much the gap had increased during that period of time," said Chris Blunt, co–president of New York Life's insurance group.
Not only do Americans have less insurance than they say they need, plenty of Americans have no life insurance at all.