In the 1990s, people were more concerned about retirement savings and stock market gains than about life insurance. Recently, only 76 percent of households owned any life insurance at all.

Reasons for the security gap are complex, according to surveys by LIMRA International, an industry research group. First, there are fewer agents selling it. Some experts say life insurance is 'sold,' not bought. Second, people were investing their money for retirement and health care. And third, many have group coverage at work, so they just settle for the amount their employer provides.

Coverage provided at work may not be enough for people with children. Most experts say primary breadwinners should have coverage equal to 6 to 10 times their annual income.

If you need more life insurance, review your employee benefits. Some companies offer the option of buying additional coverage which may be less expensive than other life insurance.

When buying insurance on your own, the Consumer Federation of America suggests buying term insurance. It's cheaper than most other types and often includes a savings vehicle.

Web sites like term4sale.com and quotesmith.com make it easy to compare prices.