Most consumers agree life insurance is a good idea, but many never get around to talking about it with their spouses or figuring out how much they need, a new survey shows.

Seventy-eight percent of respondents viewed life insurance as an important financial and estate planning tool, and 53 percent said today's tough economy made life insurance more important than in previous years, according to a study by ING U.S. Insurance.

Yet 61 percent said they had never calculated how much life insurance they need. And a considerable number hadn't broached the topic with their loved ones. Among married respondents, 45 percent had rarely or never talked with their spouse about what would happen to the family finances should one of them die.

"Life insurance is one of the least discussed components of a family's financial plan, yet it plays such an integral role in providing for a secure future," Butch Britton, CEO of ING U.S. Insurance, said in a press statement announcing the survey results.

Nobody likes to contemplate the loss of a loved one. But discussing finances in case the unthinkable happens is the first step toward creating an adequate safety net. The next step is determining how much and what type of life insurance to purchase.

Do you have enough life insurance?

Even among those who are insured, many lack adequate coverage. Only a quarter of ING U.S. survey respondents said they felt "extremely confident" they had enough coverage.

Many rely on life insurance coverage through the workplace. Forty-nine percent of insured respondents said they got coverage solely through their employers. Employees without access to life insurance benefits at work were seven times more likely not to have any coverage at all compared to employees with access.

Some coverage is better than none, but typically employer-sponsored group life insurance is not enough to sustain most families. Group policies offered through the workplace are usually for small amounts, such as $10,000 or $20,000 -- not enough to fund a child's education or pay off a mortgage. In addition, employer-sponsored life insurance usually isn't portable. Once you leave the company, the coverage ends.

The ING U.S. survey showed consumers that talked to a financial professional face-to-face before purchasing life insurance felt the most knowledgeable and confident about their coverage. Among them, 70 percent felt very or extremely confident about their coverage, compared to 56 percent of all insured respondents, the company said.

The ING U.S. findings are from an online survey conducted by Praxis Research Partners in July 2012. The respondents were over age 25 and had an annual household income of at least $50,000.