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8 Ways Your Life Insurance Application Could Get Declined

October 20th, 2016

Traditional life insurance applications are not always approved easily. Insurance companies will undergo a process known as underwriting when you submit your application for coverage. This process allows carriers to determine a fair premium to charge.

If you are considered a high risk case the carrier may ask for a higher than average premium. If your risk of premature death is above the carrier's threshold for risk, your application will be declined meaning you won't be offered any life insurance coverage.

Take a look at our infographic below, outlining the 8 most common reasons why you application will be declined.

8 common reasons life insurance declined
8 common reasons life insurance declined

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12 Reasons to Buy Critical Illness Insurance

October 17th, 2016
reasons to buy critical illness insurance

Critical Illness (CI) insurance will pay you a tax-free lump sum of cash if you are diagnosed with a serious illness. You can choose which illnesses are covered and in some cases, you might be allowed to choose regular payments instead of a lump sum. This money can be used for anything you like.

The policy may require you to survive a certain length of time from when the illness was first diagnosed. Other terms and conditions may also apply, so read the contract carefully to ensure you understand your coverage.

Here are 12 reasons to include Critical Illness insurance in your financial plan.

1. Receive cash back

After a specified amount of time, you may be eligible to have a portion of your premiums returned. Certain conditions apply and vary between companies, but generally, if you don't make a claim and don't think you will, you can cancel your policy and receive a percentage of the premiums you have paid over the years.

2. Purchase when you are healthy

It is best to buy Critical Illness insurance while you are healthy. Once you have been diagnosed with an illness, you are no longer eligible. Processing a CI application is more difficult than underwriting other types of life insurance policies. To qualify, you must be healthy and you must have a healthy family medical history. You could be disqualified if there are any factors indicating you may be at risk of developing a serious medical condition.

3. Tax free lump sum payment

When you make a claim, you are paid a tax free, lump sum in the amount of your coverage. Some policies will allow you to receive instalments. The money is tax exempt if premiums were paid with after-tax dollars, which is usually the case with a policy you own by yourself. If you have a group plan with your employer, your benefits may be taxable because the premiums were paid before taxes were deducted from your pay.

4. One less worry

With Critical Illness coverage, you have one less thing to worry about. You are allowed to take the time you need to recover without worrying about daily expenses or the additional costs of medical services not covered by your provincial health plan. The insurance company doesn't stipulate how the money can be used, so you can use it in any way you like.

5. Additional coverage

Critical Illness coverage provides you with the extra protection you don't get from other types of policies. With most policies, you are buying protection and peace of mind for your beneficiaries. Critical Illness insurance helps you in case a serious illness prevents you from working. You can buy a policy that will only make your mortgage payments, however, these types won't help with your other bills and usually only cover you in case of heart attack, stroke or cancer. A Critical Illness policy will cover these as well as 22 other common conditions.

6. Not included in most employee group plans

Most group plans offered by employers don't include Critical Illness coverage. In the rare cases where it is included in a group policy, the cover amount is generally no where near the recommended amount.

7. Best Doctors

Critical Illness insurance allows you access to Best Doctors. Best Doctors is a group of the best Doctors worldwide that are experts in specific areas of medicine. Once a claim is made, your file is put before a panel of Doctors to review and determine whether the diagnosis is correct and the chosen course of treatment is the most suitable for the diagnosis.

8. Coverage for children

It's sad but true, children can also develop a serious illness. When this happens, you will want to take time off work to be with your child or hire someone to help with the extra care the child needs. Critical Illness coverage can be purchased for children to help with the loss of your income or extra expenses incurred. Some insurance providers will cover people from only 30 days old and allow you to insure your child for up to five illnesses. Adults can be covered for about 25 illnesses. Policies, terms and conditions vary from one company to another and change when the child turns 18.

9. Peace of mind

A Critical Illness policy gives you peace of mind. You never want to think something will happen, but if it does, you can rest assured your bills will be covered even if you have to be off work for several months or even a year. You might never be able to return to work. The policy is underwritten during the application process, so you know right away if you have been approved or not. This means no surprises at claim time.

10. The best time to buy is now

The cost of Critical Illness insurance policies will never decline. As with other types of insurance, your premiums are largely based on your age. The older you get, the more the cost will increase. So the best time to get coverage is now, when the thought is still fresh in your mind.

11. Men may qualify for lower premiums than women

Unlike most life insurance policies, men may actually qualify for better rates with Critical Illness insurance than women. The reason for this is because women have longer life spans, therefore get a break on life insurance, but they have higher mobility levels putting them at a higher risk for developing a serious illness.

12. Discounts for alumni

Many Canadian universities offer valuable perks to their alumni, including discounts on life insurance. The universities have formed alliances with various insurance companies making these discounts possible. Some of the universities making this offer include Carleton University, McGill University and York University.

What Home Owners Need to Know About Life Insurance

October 13th, 2016
life insurance for home owners

Once your mortgage application is approved, your lender will tell you that you should have mortgage insurance in the event of disability, illness or death. You don't want to leave your spouse with a large mortgage in case tragedy strikes, so you instinctively sign on the dotted line. But is this really a good idea?

With the high cost of houses these days, budgets are tight. A more affordable option is a 20-year term life policy for both you and your spouse. If either of you die, the other receives a lump sum. The question is, how much coverage do you need?

Lorne Marr, founder of LSM Insurance, suggests using your mortgage balance as a base amount. As quoted by Rob Carrick of the Globe and Mail, Mr. Marr states that if a couple largely relies on the income of one spouse, the higher-income spouse should have a larger policy than the basic mortgage amount. This would provide the surviving spouse with a little nest egg after the mortgage is paid.

After you start a family, your insurance needs change. This can be easily handled by increasing your coverage. “A quick rule of thumb for people with kids under 10 years old is 10 times your annual income,” Mr. Marr said. “If you have kids over 10, it’s five times your annual income.” If this amount is out of reach, keep in mind that less coverage is better than no coverage at all.

What type of insurance should you get – term, permanent or universal?

Term life means you pay a level premium for the term of your policy and in the event of your death, your beneficiary receives a lump-sum, tax-free payment. This type of insurance is very affordable and can be a good choice for younger people and families. A term policy has no cash value.

Permanent insurance is very complex that typically provides a death benefit as well as a cash value. There are several types of permanent insurance such as whole, universal, variable, index-universal and variable-universal. Premiums are higher than those for a term policy, however your premiums build up a cash value over time.

Get a policy large enough to cover your current mortgage.

Your mortgage is probably your largest debt. The last thing you want to do is leave your spouse with such a huge debt to pay off all alone, especially if you are the primary earner. This could prove financially devastating to your family. Getting a policy a bit larger than your mortgage is even better because it will provide your spouse with a little extra money to help make the adjustment to life without your income.

Understand other home-related expenses.

As a homeowner, you know there are all types of other costs in addition to your mortgage payments. You have your upfront costs, ongoing costs and occasionally you are hit with some unexpected costs. The upfront costs are paid when you buy the house. Ongoing costs, such as utilities and routine maintenance, are never paid up. They keep coming, month after month, year after year. Unexpected costs can occur after a severe storm or an accident such as a fire.

To help retain or increase the value of your home, it must be properly maintained. Your life insurance policy can help protect your investment by providing your beneficiaries with the money they need to pay for upkeep. Adequate insurance can also help your family keep the house instead of selling it because they can't afford the upkeep.

Calculate how much you typically spend on your home each year then purchase a policy that will cover your mortgage and plus other home-related expenses your family may incur in the years to come.

Life insurance vs mortgage insurance.

Lenders want to make sure you will pay off your mortgage, that is why they try to talk you into buying mortgage insurance from them. Mortgage life insurance will pay off the amount still owing on your mortgage, but nothing more. A life insurance policy can pay off your mortgage, plus leave a little extra.

Another problem with mortgage life insurance is that you lose it if you sell your house. You can't transfer your policy to your new home.

The limit for mortgage insurance is typically $500,000, which may not be enough. The premiums stay the same for the life of the policy, however the payout amount declines with every mortgage payment you make.

Insurance needs change over time.

You should re-evaluate your policy periodically. Your circumstances can dramatically change over time, so each time something in your life changes, review your insurance needs.

Re-examine your policy when buying a new or bigger home.

When you buy a new or bigger home, your mortgage and maintenance needs change. Remember to upgrade your insurance policy to cover these changes.

Employer offered life insurance may leave you with no coverage.

Group insurance provided by your employer may be adequate, but this coverage only lasts as long as you stay with the company. If you change jobs or become self-employed, your coverage is cancelled. It is always better to have your own insurance coverage. This always you to choose your provider and the level of coverage you need.

Difference between homeowner's insurance and life insurance.

When people buy homeowner's insurance, they often assume they don't need life insurance. One has nothing to do with the other. The two address completely different needs.

Homeowner's insurance covers the cost to repair or replace your home in case of damage caused by fire or some other accident. It may also cover the replacement costs of anything lost or stolen from inside the house and damage to out buildings.

A life insurance policy pays a tax-free lump sum to your beneficiary in the event of your death. This money can be used to pay off your mortgage, make home repairs and help your family meet their financial obligations.

Book Review: Victory Lap Retirement

October 5th, 2016
mob logo

The concept of retirement first began with the industrial revolution, when retirement was the stage in life after working years in which we prepared for death. As grim as it sounds, that was the reality most people who were lucky enough to reach retirement could expect.

With massive advancements in technology and medicine, people are now living longer and more vibrant lives in their later years. It is not uncommon to find elderly people in their late 80’s and 90’s still working part-time jobs, engaging in all types of physical activities and even travelling the world.

The old days of working our behinds off from age 20 to age 65 and enjoying a few years of retirement is a thing of the past. It’s simply unreasonable to expect the majority of workers today will be ready for full-stop retirement by age 65.

Consumers are getting concerned that they are not saving enough for the inevitable longer retirement years. As humans are living longer lives, those post-working years are going to be more expensive to finance.

Enter the Victory Lap Retirement: Work While You Play, Play While You Work, The Joy of Financial Any Age. The book, co-authored by 30-year financial industry veteran Mike Drak and high-profile financial independence expert Jon Chevreau, turns the concept of traditional retirement on its head.

Don’t go quitting your day job just yet, though. A fundamental prerequisite to Victory Lap Retirement is first achieving Findependence. Being free from the shackles of a corporate job is completely contingent on being fully financially independent, otherwise your ideal Victory Lap Retirement will most likely never be realised. Most people will need new sources of income after leaving a full-time career, and not be carrying a large debt load, if they plan to live out their Victory Lap Retirement on their own terms.

A victory lap is known as a slow and celebratory lap taken by an athlete after winning a race or sporting event. The concept of Victory Lap Retirement is based on that principle. Victory Lap Retirement begins after one has reached their Financial Independence Day. Financial Independence, or Findependence, coined by co-author Jon Chevreau, is the moment at which a worker reached full financial independence with multiple sources of income and is free of debts.

After crossing the Findependence line, the idea of only engaging in leisurely activities such as sitting on a beach in the Caribbean or playing golf at an expensive country club is becoming less and less the desired path for many people.

Instead elderly people are more active and health conscious than ever, resulting in longer life expectancy and costlier post working-years. Victory Lap Retirement is the concept of continually working past the traditional retirement age, but working on things you want to do rather than forcefully.

Typically, Victory Lap Retirement means leaving corporate employment to enter this new stage in life. The basis is to blend work and play to live out the most fulfilling last years and decades possible.

The media and large financial intermediaries work very hard in their marketing practices to promote the concept of full-stop retirement, however it would be very costly for retirees to maintain the lavish activities depicted in these advertising campaigns. The fact remains, more and more workers are forced to work past the traditional retirement age of 65, just to survive and thrive, let alone staying at expensive resorts or joining prestigious golf clubs.

The book describes strategies that can be implemented to design the best Victory Lap Retirement catered to each individual, as we all have our own concepts of how to spend our final years. The book also explains how to achieve Findependence so that those goals can be made a reality.

The first step is proper planning, to sit down and list out what Victory Lap Retirement looks like for you. If you decide to continue working, what are you trying to gain out of it other than just money?

The concept of Victory Lap Retirement is not just for baby boomers to consider either, it’s for their millennial children as well. Young people are not buying into the full-stop retirement concepts being pitched by major financial institutions and they are looking for more practical alternatives. This solution provides much more flexibility and freedom over the stringent confines of a corporate grind. With Victory Lap Retirement, you decide what to do with your day, as opposed to being forced to work because you need to, you do it because you love to.

A key factor in being able to enter the Victory Lap Retirement stage in life is maintaining good mental and physical health, embracing a positive outlook and making sure your financial plan is in line with these goals.

The transition between working years and retirement is getting a lot fuzzier, and for better or for worse we as workers and consumers need to be prepared. This book provides actionable tips to make that transition pleasant and fulfilling, by setting realistic goals and a plan to achieve them.

Pick up your copy from the Victory Lap Retirement website or

To your successful Findependence Day and Victory Lap Retirement!

Why Canadians Aren’t Buying Life Insurance

September 27th, 2016
canadians not buying life insurance

According to a BMO survey, over half of all Canadians are concerned that their death will put their family’s financial stability in jeopardy. The survey revealed that 26% are very concerned. However, only about 43% (less than half of all respondents) say they already have or plan to purchase life insurance in the next 12 months. Of the people surveyed, 31% reported not having any life, accident, disability, travel, critical illness or long-term care coverage. Approximately the same proportion stated they are confident that their financial plans are sufficient to cover any insurance needs.

In spite of the complexity of the insurance industry, half of the Canadians surveyed felt they had an adequate amount of understanding about insurance products appropriate for their stage in life and 16% stated their understanding was very good.

This suggests that a large number of Canadians don't have adequate insurance protection and don't understand the complexities of the insurance industry.

The report also asked what types of insurance people own or plan to purchase within the next year. This is what they said:

  • Millennials (ages 18-34)
    • Life – 46%
    • Accident - 33%
    • Travel – 42%
    • Disability – 20%
    • No insurance at all – 24%
  • Generation X (ages 35-54)
    • Life – 44%
    • Accident – 22%
    • Travel – 33%
    • Critical illness – 21%
    • No insurance at all – 33%
  • Baby Boomers (ages 55-64)
    • Life – 32%
    • Accident – 27%
    • Travel – 41%
    • Long-term care – 15%
    • No insurance at all – 37%

Top Reasons for Not Buying Life Insurance

Approximately 31% of Canadians don't have any type of life insurance. These are the top 7 reasons people give for not buying coverage.

1. Lack of Technology - Insures are not taking advantage of technology.

Insurance companies are one of the few industries not taking full advantage of modern technology. They have at their disposal big data, mobile technology, cloud computing and other tools to deliver innovative products to their customers. Technology has made it possible for insurers to create and launch new digital offerings their customers would be very eager to purchase.

The problem is, most firms are sticking to traditional methods. The insurance industry hasn't changed very much at all over the years. In today's digital world, insurance customers expect the same type of experience they have with other companies. Their expectations have been shaped by fast-paced technology and instant results. The insurance companies that can step up to meet this challenge will attract more customers, build greater loyalty and cut costs.

2. Lack of Knowledge - Don't know what to do about it.

Canadians know they need life insurance, but don't understand it or don't know where to start. These are the main questions and concerns people have about life insurance:

  • How much coverage do I need?
    • You want enough insurance to cover essential financial obligations, such as paying off debts, income replacement and funeral costs.
  • Do I need more coverage if I have children?
    • If you have kids, you know they aren't cheap. You don't want to put an extra burden on your surviving spouse or appointed caretaker, so make sure you have enough coverage to help them raise your children.

Speak with an experienced insurance broker or advisor before deciding which type of insurance is best for you and what kind of policy you need.

3. Trust - Don't have an advisor they can trust.

How can you speak with an experienced advisor if you don't have one you can trust? Life insurance is a very personal topic you don't want to discuss with just anyone. However, it is also a very complex topic so finding a trained insurance expert is important. Experienced advisors can help you sort through the maze of options available and help you find the product that best suits your needs.

4. Finances – Many Canadians don't think they can afford life insurance.

The majority of Canadians consider life insurance an important factor in their financial plans, but when money is tight, insurance premiums are one of the first things to hit the chopping block. The Bank of Canada has been concerned about household debt for some time. According to a story in the Globe and Mail, Canadians have $1.65 of debt for every dollar of disposable income. This situation could potentially harm the financial stability of the country.

Canadians tend to shy away from purchasing new policies or increase current coverage during times of economic uncertainty and with their own personal debts at historic highs, many Canadians have cancelled their insurance in an effort to save money.

5. Health Issues – Most Canadians don't know about the variety of new No Medical Simplified issue options.

You may have heard that you can't get life insurance if you have been diagnosed with an illness or that your health condition will get you denied for coverage. This is no longer true. Today, there are many options available that allow you to get insurance without a medical exam. You may have to pay a bit more, but you should be able to qualify for a suitable policy.

6. Not Enough Time – People are just too busy.

There are only 24 hours in a day. Trying to divide this time into working hours, time spent commuting to work, eating and sleeping is tricky. You are lucky to have any time left to just relax or enjoy your family. Non-work days are reserved for cleaning, shopping or other chores you didn't have time for on workdays. During a few idle moments, you might think about getting life insurance, but the moment passes and you never seem to find the time. You have to make time. Mark it on the calendar and make the call.

7. Procrastinate – People always tend to put things off until tomorrow.

Canadians don't usually make the decision not to buy life insurance. They make the decision to put it off until later. Unfortunately, later they forget.

“Procrastination is one of the most common and deadliest of diseases and its toll on success and happiness is heavy.” Wayne Gretzky.

Life Insurance and High Net-Worth Individuals

September 23rd, 2016
life insurance high net worth
High net-worth individuals
want a single advisor.

High net-worth individuals are a key demographic when it comes to life insurance. However, with their complicated financial investments and riskier lifestyle, their life insurance needs can be very complex.

The Investment Executive published an article in its August 2013 issue on what high net-worth individuals want. The premise of the article was that Canada's high net-worth individuals preferred one life insurance advisor, rather than multiple advisors.

The survey was compiled from 4,400 high net-worth individuals from 21 countries in five regions. It highlights what high net-worth individuals are looking for in an investment management firm.

Of all the high net-worth individuals surveyed in North America, 52.8% prefer to work with a single firm, as opposed to multiple firms. This compares to 41.4% worldwide. Meanwhile, 50.9% of wealthy North Americans prefer to have a single point of contact, such as one life insurance advisor within a wealth management firm.

The question is, how realistic is this preference? Can one advisor be all things to one person?

In my opinion, especially in the high net-worth market, people need multiple advisors. The key is to make this seem seamless for the client. They don't want to have to remember multiple points of contact. There needs to be a quarterback who handles all inquiries and makes sure all the client's needs are being looked after. This advisor can co-ordinate with other specialists who look after the client's needs behind the scenes.

Creating this type of alliance isn't always easy. The life insurance advisor has to align himself with individuals who share similar values and have a similar customer philosophy. However, when it works, this type of network becomes a win-win for both the life insurance advisor and the client. The client receives great service and the life insurance advisor is able to build a fence around his clients. Plus, a stream of referrals from other specialists and happy customers comes his way.

To make things run smoothly, the specialists within this network can set up quarterly meetings and conference calls to make sure they're all on the same page on how they're servicing all their clients — including key high net-worth clients. They can also discuss different strategies for building more value into their practice.

The Medical Issue

The medical part of a life insurance policy is also more complicated for high-net-worth Canadians. In general, millionaires tend to take very good care of their health. They will often seek out world-class specialists and spend time in private clinics around the world. This makes the underwriting process difficult and time consuming. Medical records and reports have to be collected from each doctor that treated the applicant.

The lifestyles of a wealthy people can also be a problem. With their taste for fast cars, exotic vacations and extreme sports, their lives are put at risk more frequently. Plus, they may travel more and to more dangerous countries, which is a great concern to insurance companies.

High-Net-Worth Newcomers

The increase in affluent newcomers to our country has life insurance companies re-examining their financial underwriting guidelines. Great-West Life Assurance Co. (GWL) of Winnipeg and its sister company, Canada Life Assurance Co. of Toronto, have already made some policy changes for new high net-worth (HNW) Canadians. New permanent residents can now qualify for up to $10 million in life insurance coverage without proof of assets, as opposed to the previous $5 million limit. Insurance companies are also cutting down on documentation requirements in an effort to attract more affluent newcomers.

Studies show that approximately 25% of HNW Canadians are immigrants.

aman background
Aman Kapur, LSM Insurance Insurance Consultant

“[HNW immigrants] are a great market,” says Aman Kapur, a senior broker with LSM Insurance and CEO of Oakville, Ont.-based associate general agency Clarifynancials Inc., also known by the brand “I see a lot of value in it.”

Troy Haugen, senior vice president of individual insurance new business for GWL and Canada Life, agrees, “[HNW immigrants] are a substantial and important market for us that continues to grow within Canada. We want to ensure our policies and approaches stay current so that we can continue to meet their insurance needs into the future.”

Guidelines vary from one company to another, however increases in coverage limits for immigrants is becoming the norm across the industry. This provides more opportunities for advisors to sell bigger policies.

Pankaj Arora, insurance agent and sales manager at Desjardins Financial Security Independent Network's Mississauga Financial Centre, feels there may be direct link between the rising costs of real estate and increases in coverage limits. High cost housing in areas such as Toronto and Vancouver, have created the need for more coverage.

Tax and Estate Planning Benefits

High-net-worth Canadians, newcomers and regulars alike, use life insurance differently than the rest of us. Instead of merely providing a security net for our family, for HNW Canadians, insurance is an important part of their overall estate planning strategy. The demand for permanent life insurance has especially grown.

“There are lots of big clients who want to do estate planning and, for them, insurance is the best way of doing this,” says Arora. “They have lots of money. For them, taking a $500,000 policy is not enough. They are looking for more.”

A whole life policy can be used as a tax-shelter investment. Insurance paid out is not taxable, and if you have a policy that grows over time, any additional funds are also tax-free.

The tax benefits of some strategies will decrease after Dec. 31, 2016, when new federal rules take effect. However, Mark Halpern, chief executive officer of based in Markham, Ont. believes life insurance is still “a sophisticated investment in the scheme of a financial planner’s overall estate planning.”

Calculating Total Net Worth

Securing life insurance for newcomers has typically been an intense undertaking. Obtaining and assessing medical and financial information from a foreign country can make the underwriting process quite a challenge. In many cases more medical tests and more detailed documentation of assets are required.

“The insurance company is going to ask what the insurable interest is, and clients will need to provide some proof of assets,” Kapur says.

Insurance companies hope the changes to underwriting guidelines will reduce the amount of required documentation and make the whole process run smoother. One change is that clients can now declare foreign and Canadian assets on one form without supporting documents. Under the old rules, all foreign assets had to be verified. Now a portion of assets will be accepted without proof. When calculating the total net worth of an applicant, Canada Life and GWL will include 100% of Canadian, 50% of verified foreign and 25% of unverified foreign net worth.

The new guidelines give insurers less hard evidence of foreign assets, but insurance companies are confident the risk is worth the reward.

Staying Fit Can Save You Money On Your Life Insurance

September 22nd, 2016
manulife vitality life insurance

The cost of life insurance increases as you get older. It is also more expensive for people with less than perfect health. Even if you are in perfect health today, you could become ill tomorrow or your fitness level could drop, especially if you live a sedentary life. People generally become less active when they get older. Insurance companies are now launching new incentives to help keep Canadians fit and healthy longer.

Manulife, one of Canada’s top insurance companies, is introducing an innovative new product called the Vitality Program. This product rewards policyholders for maintaining a high level of health and fitness and Goodlife Fitness is going to help with reduced membership fees.

“You make choices every day. With Manulife Vitality, you get rewarded for the healthy ones.”

This is the first time such a program has ever been offered. The Vitality Program combines the benefits of life insurance with two great features:

  • The opportunity to save money on your life insurance premiums
  • The opportunity to earn valuable rewards for improving your health

We, at LSM Insurance think this is a great initiative. People who take care of their health and aim for longevity deserve to pay less for life insurance. Offering fitness-based rewards to policyholders is an excellent incentive to encouraging further progress and living a healthy lifestyle. Our Founder, Lorne Marr has recently launched his own initiative, Fit After 45, which is an online resource of fitness tips and advice from some of Canada’s fittest athletes, trainers and medical professionals over the age of 45.

How the Manulife Vitality Program Works

After you complete the application process, you will be taken to the online Vitality Health Review to determine your “Vitality Age.” This is basically your fitness level, which may indicate your health is at a level greater or lower than your actual age. Your goal is to improve this over time by exercising and adopting a healthier lifestyle.

Once you are issued the policy with the Vitality program, you can immediately start to accumulate Vitality Points by completing health-related activities such as exercising regularly, taking a health education course, getting an annual physical and even by getting a flu shot. How many Vitality Points you can accumulate during a one year period determines your status level in the program. The higher your status, the more rewards and benefits you can enjoy.

The Manulife Fitness Partners

Garmin and Goodlife Fitness have joined Manulife in their effort to inspire Canadians to become healthy and fit.

The first reward is a free Garmin vívofit 3, just for joining the program. This cool little piece of technology is a wearable, water resistant device that is capable of capturing data from all your activities, including swimming and resting. You can easily keep track of your progress and stay motivated on your road to health and fitness with the Garmin Connect feature which allows you to plan, save and share your progress. Automatically get recognition for meeting daily fitness goals, which is exactly what this program is all about. Plus, you can join challenges and compete against other Manulife Vitality members.

As a Vitality member, you can earn discounted membership rates at any Goodlife Fitness or Énergie Cardio club in the country. GoodLife Fitness and Énergie Cardio are Canadian fitness clubs and gyms with over 365 locations across the country. Most of the clubs are co-ed, however there are a large number of gyms exclusively for women.

The company was founded in 1979 as a humble way to help motivate Canadians to become healthy and fit. The founders understood that being surrounded by a group of like-minded individuals would solidify the commitment to fitness. Some people can jog every day or exercise at home, but most of us don't have that kind of dedication. We need more of a push and paying membership fees to a state-of-the-art club with a team of supporters is just the push we need.

Goodlife Fitness clubs are open around the clock, so you can work out whenever you like. Exercise at your pace or join one of the fabulous fitness classes for a total body workout! The friendly fitness experts are always ready help in any way so you achieve your personal health and fitness goals.

Benefits of Staying Healthy and Life Insurance

Among other factors, the premiums you pay for life insurance coverage are ultimately based on mortality statistics. Age and poor health are high risks that put you closer to death than youth and excellent health. However, you don't have to let age affect your health. By joining the Manulife Vitality Program or following Mr. Marr on his Fit After 45 journey, you can remain healthy and vital well into your golden years.

You can't stop the aging process, but you can stay healthy. Taking care of yourself by eating right and exercising regularly can dramatically reduce your risk developing various diseases such as type 2 diabetes, heart conditions and certain types of cancers. Which means you will be able to enjoy lower life insurance premiums with higher coverage.

To get the most benefits out of staying healthy, it's important to revisit your policy regularly – or at least before you renew. Inform your advisor about your current health status. If you neglect your life insurance and let it roll over into automatic renewals, you will end up paying a small fortune because it is naturally assumed that your health will decline over time and your premiums can rise exponentially.

By staying healthy, and backing this up with a health screening, you could renew your policy at a much lower rate.

Top 10 Most Obese Countries

September 19th, 2016
most obese countries

Obesity is not a disease, but it can lead to a wide range of health conditions such as diabetes, liver disease, hypertension and cardiovascular disease, as well as breast, colon and prostate cancer. Obesity is classified as having a body mass index over 30 kg/m2. The problem exists all over the world and has seen a steady increase over the past few decades.

According to the CIA’s World Factbook, the most obese countries are smaller nations such as American Samoa (74.6%), Nauru (71%), Cook Islands (63.7%) and Tokelau (63.4%), indicating there is no direct connection between obesity and the economic status of a country. Canada comes in at #48 on the list.

The World Health Organization says that a shortage of food and rising prices contribute to obesity in underdeveloped countries because the people find it difficult to eat a well-balanced, healthy diet. Filling up on empty calories and fried foods is usually their only option. The scorching heat is also a factor because people's physical activity levels are seriously reduced in extreme temperatures. The African continent is the exception, not including South Africa which has adopted many westernized lifestyles and become quite obese.

Obesity Rates Around the World

Pacific Island nations aside, the top 10 most obese countries in the world, according to World Obesity, are:

Egypt – 48.1% of women and 22.4% of men
United States – 40.4% of women and 35% of men
Venezuela – 32.4% of women and 34.2% of men
Libyan Arab Jamahiriya – 40.1% of women and 21.4% of men
Mexico – 37.5% of women and 26.8% of men
Iraq – 38.2% of women and 26.2% of men
Paraguay – 35.7% of women and 22.9% of men
South Africa – 39.2% of women and 10.6% of men
Saudi Arabia – 33.5% of women and 24.1 % of men
New Zealand – 32% of women and 29.4% of men

Canada didn't make the top 10 list of most obese countries. The survey cited that 23% of Canadian women and 27.6% of Canadian men are obese. However, those numbers are still quite high and if you fall into this category, you might want to consider some lifestyle changes.

Obesity and Life Insurance

If you have a weight problem, especially if you are obese, you have probably been denied life insurance coverage. This is because obesity often leads to other health conditions and insurance underwriters combine all risk variables to determine the classification given to an applicant.

A good broker can often assist in high risk cases by requesting a preliminary offer from the insurance company or sending a cover letter with the application. Ironically, many insurance companies use the same height and weight tables for males and females, so a cover letter explaining lifestyle issues or other variables can make a difference.

However, there is another option for obese applicants – Simplified Issue Life Insurance. These types of policies don't require medical tests and have fewer health questions. They come with higher premiums and lower face amounts, but pricing options have improved significantly in recent years.

The face amount of coverage is limited and the premiums on these policies are higher because the risk of potential loss is much greater. The chances of an insurance company paying out a claim for a life insurance policy without a medical exam is more likely than from a traditional policy.

When applying for a traditional insurance plan, you must have a regular medical exam. If your health is good and the medical history of your family is good, you may be approved for standard or even preferred rates. If you are deemed a health risk, you will be rated a high-risk applicant and charged extra or declined altogether.

A New Look at Obesity

Many organizations, including the Canadian Obesity Network, the Canadian Medical Association, the American Medical Association and the World Health Organization, now consider obesity to be a chronic, progressive disease, much like high blood pressure or diabetes. It is characterized by an excessive amount of body fat that can seriously affect your health.

Obesity has been described as a complex phenomenon involving a diverse and interactive group of factors including biological, behavioural and societal. Genetics also play a large role, however, genes are not the only players. Your physical environment, social activities, cultural practices and daily habits also make important contributions. You can't do much about your genes, but the other factors can be controlled, modified or discontinued.

In most cases, obesity occurs when you consume more calories than you burn, which means most people can prevent obesity. By eating right and exercising regularly, you should be able to control your weight, to some extent. You might never be slim and trim, but you may be able to get your weight down to a healthy level and qualify for a better life insurance plan at better rates.

Research has recently discovered more causes for obesity such as genetic factors and hormonal changes that can affect your appetite, energy level and fat metabolism. If you are born with a low metabolism plus lead a sedentary and unhealthy lifestyle, you are at a much higher risk of becoming obese than an active person with a high metabolism.

Doctors believe psychological factors might also contribute to obesity. A traumatic experience, emotional problems, depression and low self-esteem can all lead to excessive eating as a coping method. These problems also contribute to a lack of energy. Combined, all these factors are very likely to cause weight gain.

Mike Castagna | Consultant, J.W. Larmond Life Insurance and Benefits

September 17th, 2016

Mike Castagna
Disability Insurance Expert Mike Castagna

Mike Castagna

Consultant, J.W. Larmond Life Insurance and Benefits 

1. What type of disability insurance do you own?

I own a professional series disability policy that is non-cancellable, payable to age 65, with a 90 day wait period. I also made sure to add the future income option and cost of living adjusted benefit riders to my policy as I am young and wanted to guarantee my future insurability if I have a change in health.

2. What factors did you consider when determining the coverage amount?

I purchased as much as I was allowed to purchase based on my current annual income. As mentioned above, I also made sure to protect my insurability by adding on the future income option rider to my policy, which allows me to purchase more coverage as my income increases.

3. Do you think people underestimate the importance of disability insurance, and if so, why?

Disability insurance is absolutely underestimated. Many of my clients understand the importance of life insurance, but many don’t ever think about what their situation would look like if they got sick or injured and weren’t able to go to work and earn an income. Our ability to earn an income is the most important asset that we have and disability insurance is the best way to protect that asset.

4. What are some limitations or exclusions people should watch out for?

The benefit period and the definition of disability are two aspects of a disability policy that people need to be aware of. Many group plans only cover you in your “own” occupation for the first two years and then definition switches to “any” occupation. This means that after two years, if you are capable of being employed in “any” gainful occupation (not necessarily your own), then you can be cut off your disability benefit.

5. If you had to choose between Critical Illness and Disability Insurance, which one would you choose and why?

While I believe both are very important to a proper insurance plan, I would definitely choose a disability insurance policy. This is because disability insurance protects your income long term. Critical illness is meant to pay you lump sum benefit to help you recover from a major illness, while disability insurance is meant to protect your income long term by paying you a monthly benefit while you are unable to earn your income.

Mike Castagna is a consultant at J.W. Larmond Life Insurance and Benefits. Mike is focused on helping his clients protect their financial well-being through the use of Life Insurance, Disability Insurance, and Critical Illness Insurance. Mike works with families, professionals, and business owners in developing extensive individual insurance plans as well as group insurance plans for businesses.

In his spare time, Mike enjoys playing soccer, hockey, and basketball recreationally as well as coaching soccer and football at both the high school and travel levels. Mike believes it is important to offer his time to coaching as he has had so many great coaches in the past that motivated him throughout his life.

<Back to Disability Insurance – What The Experts Own

UPDATE: Understanding Genetic Testing and Life Insurance

September 13th, 2016

genetic testing insurance

***UPDATE*** The following article discussing the impact of genetic testing on a life insurance application received a Twitter response from Moshe A. Milevsky. 

Milevsky is a tenured finance professor of 20 years at Toronto's York University where he teaches  undergraduate, graduate and doctoral students courses on wealth management, investments, insurance, and pensions.

In response to our article, he made the following comment:

(UPDATE: Understanding Genetic Testing and Life Insurance continued...) | 24 comments

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