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We’ve Got The Answers: Should I Buy My Policy Direct?

December 6th, 2017











Today's Question: Should I buy my policy direct?

It's a good question and by direct, I am assuming you mean, "should I buy the policy directly from the carrier and bypass the broker?"


A lot of people think they can save money doing this but the reality is, when you buy a policy directly through a company such as BMO or RBC, for example, they are essentially showing you just their one in-house product. When you use a broker, he/she is going to shop the market to make sure they find you the best plan at the best possible price. They are going to look around and BMO may not be the best policy in that particular instance or RBC may not be the best policy. 

They are going to look at all the different companies and once again, make sure you get the best value for your premium dollars.

Good News For Former Smokers Applying For Life Insurance

December 4th, 2017



Most insurance companies will offer non-smoker life insurance rates to people who quit smoking and have not used any tobacco products or tobacco substitutes for 12 months. Marijuana users can now also qualify for non-smoker rates.

When the Canadian government decriminalized the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes, two major life insurance companies decided to treat marijuana users as non-smokers. This decision reverses a long-standing policy and allows these people to qualify for much lower premiums.

The following is how some of the top life insurance companies in Canada treat marijuana use:

Assumption Life

Assumption Life's guaranteed issue policy, Golden Protection, isn’t an underwritten product. Since there is no question on drug usage in the Declaration of insurability, they do not underwrite the quantity of marijuana taken, of any form. The only relevant question in terms of marijuana usage is for the smoker/non-smoker status:

  • In the past twelve (12) months, have you used any substance or product containing tobacco, nicotine, or marijuana mixed with nicotine or used ecigarettes?

If the client can answer NO to the smoker status question, then the non smoker rate applies. Otherwise, if the answer is YES, then the smoker rate applies.

BMO Insurance

Normally, BMO Insurance would consider 2 "cigarettes" ‎per week as a non-smoker. Or equivalent usage in other forms. They do not have any types of usage ‎as prohibited and would underwrite the case based on the facts as declared in the application.

Canada Protection Plan (CPP)

Up to their Simplified Elite plans, clients that are smoking (or vaping) marijuana more than 4 times a week are considered smokers. For edible users, they do not ask about ingestion of marijuana. Clients eating marijuana are considered non-smokers for all their non-medical plans.

Canada Life

Marijuana use is considered at non-smoker rates. It depends on the quantity that may warrant a rating, for example 150% of non-smoker rates.


An individual vaping in general is considered as a smoker rates; therefore, vaping marijuana is subject to smoker rates.

Equitable Life

In their Guide to Individual Underwriting, Equitable Life suggests that marijuana users that smoke up to two times per week and "occasional marijuana users" will be considered for Standard Non-smoker rates. Applicants who use marijuana daily will be given individual consideration.


Any amount of smoked or otherwise inhaled marijuana on a regular basis will result in a smoker rate. Ingested marijuana is considered on a non-smoker basis.

Industrial Alliance

Marijuana usage is considered at non-smoker rates, regardless of frequency or how it is used. Whether there will be a rating will depend on applicant’s age, frequency of use, and whether or not any other recreational drugs used now (or in past).

The final decision may be the same, less favourable or more favourable than the tentative assessment given in this inquiry. All underwriting inquires are subject to review of a fully completed application, routine age and amount requirements, proof of income (if applicable), as well as any other requirements deemed necessary by Industrial Alliance Underwriting Department.

ivari (formerly Transamerica)

ivari rates marijuana users as standard non smoker with a negative urine.


Manulife states, "Marijuana smokers have been classified as HS3 for approx. 1yr now. The underwriter will be looking at other areas of the application such as driving, alcohol, drugs, etc...which all-in-all might warrant a rating. The outcome also depends on volume of usage."

RBC Insurance

If an applicant uses up to 8 joints a month, a tentative standard may be considered.

SSQ Insurance

SSQ considers vaping equal to smoking, therefore smoker rates apply. As for ingested marijuana, it depends on the amount consumed. If consumption is equivalent to 2 or less joints per week, then non-smoker rates apply.

Sun Life

Sun Life's policy is that once you vape, irrespective of frequency, you are a smoker.

Letting Your Body Heal

According to Medical Expert Dr. Michael Greger, “Your body wants to regain its health if you let it. But if you keep reinjuring yourself three times a day, you interrupt the healing process. Consider smoking and lung cancer risk: One of the most amazing things I learned in medical school was that within about fifteen years of stopping smoking, your lung cancer risk approaches that of a lifelong non-smoker. Your lungs can clear out all that tar buildup and, eventually, it’s almost as if you never smoked at all.”

Under the right conditions, your body can heal itself. Cuts scab over and heal and bruises go away after awhile. But if you keep opening the cut or whacking yourself in the same spot, you'll never heal. You have to sit back and let your body work its magic. Pain medicines can often take your mind off the injury long enough for the natural healing process to take effect.

Your body wants to be healthy and that is why it works so hard to fix all of your cuts and bruises. As a smoker, your body starts the healing process every night. Then, when you wake in the morning and have that first cigarette – bam! All that hard work goes up in a puff of smoke. The same is true for clogging your arteries. Some people believe moderation may help, but that is like hitting yourself with a smaller hammer. Why beat yourself up at all? Choosing a healthy lifestyle and stopping the damage is the only way your body can heal. Let your body heal and you can save a bundle on life insurance – plus live a longer, healthier life!

Another great way to improve your health and save on your life insurance is to take advantage of the incentive programs some insurance companies are now offering. 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. New incentive programs to help keep Canadians fit and healthy longer have been launched by Manulife and Goodlife.

I have always been passionate about health and wellness and founded which highlights my own personal fitness journey and other Professional Athletes, Weekend Warriors and Medical Professionals. You could even save some money at your favourite sporting events by bringing your own snacks. A healthier diet can improve your overall health and reduce the cost of your life insurance premiums.

Cheering on your favourite team doesn't have to mean a night of overindulging. There are plenty of healthier choices. Pass on the chili dogs, nachos and beer and bring a bag of veggies, some nuts and a bottle of water instead. Your heart and your wallet will thank you!

If you are previous smoker and would like to get a lower rate on your life insurance, please fill out the form above or below for a free quote.

Is Your TSFA Ripe for an Audit

November 30th, 2017

A recent BMO survey revealed that Canadians contributed about $1000 less to their TFSAs in 2016 than they did the year before. The reason? They simply couldn't afford to save as much – 43% said they didn't have enough money, while 36% needed the money for other things. About 15% of the people polled didn't contribute to their TFSA at all.

The amount a taxpayer can contribute per year is limited. In 2015, the limit was $10,000, but in 2016 it was only $5,500. However, the unused portion is carried over, so you can go over the annual limit if you didn't max out in previous years.

Average amounts contributed:

  • Atlantic Provinces: $4312

  • Quebec: $4168

  • Ontario: $4771

  • Manitoba and Saskatchewan: $3220

  • Alberta: $3849

  • British Columbia: $5898

Overall Canadian average: $4592

Participants stated they expect to contribute even less this year. But that doesn't mean TFSAs are losing their attraction. According to StatsCan, TFSAs are becoming more popular than RRSPs.

Auditing Tax-Free Savings Accounts

Tax-free savings accounts were introduced in 2009. These accounts allow you to save money, without paying any tax on the interest you earn or when the money is withdrawn. However, if your TFSA carries on a business, according to subsection 146.2(6) of Canada’s Income Tax Act, the income earned is taxable.

Individuals amassing huge balances in their tax-free savings accounts, without going over the contribution limit, has prompted aggressive auditing. The Canada Revenue Agency claims to have already uncovered over $75 million in unpaid taxes from improper use of TFSA funds. Of this money, the CRA says 20% is from TFSAs being operated as a business.

When auditing a TFSA, the Canada Revenue Agency first determines whether the account is carrying on a business. Several factors are considered based on case histories of selling securities. The big question is whether losses and gains should be on an income account or a capital account.

These factors may indicate your TFSA is carrying on a business:

  • frequent securities transactions

  • quick relinquishment of ownership of the securities

  • experience with or knowledge of the security market

  • you work in securities

  • you study the securities market

  • you openly try to buy securities

  • you buy securities with debt financing and transfer them to your TFSA

  • your securities are speculative or don't pay out dividends

  • extraordinary growth

Many people wonder if Parliament is heading towards banning frequent securities trading within a TFSA. The Income Tax Act explicitly states business income generated with TFSA funds is taxable, however, this caveat apparently ensures taxable businesses that they don't need to compete with tax-exempt TFSAs.

Also, publicly traded securities are a permissible form of investment and the contribution limit formula used for TFSAs seems to allow somewhat frequent transactions.

Setting Yourself Up For an Audit

The CRA will occasionally do a random audit, but there are a few things that grab their attention and almost guarantee you will be audited. These include:

  • Ignoring requests for more information. When the CRA wants proof of an expense you claimed, send it in right away. Thinking they might go away if you don't reply doesn't work. According to Ernst & Young, “If the taxpayer does not respond on a timely basis or is unable to provide adequate support for a claim, the CRA will issue a reassessment, perhaps denying a claim completely or adjusting an income or expense figure based on the information on file.” This can also lead to investigations into future tax returns.

  • Claiming unusually large deductions for your home office. Generally, you can claim about a quarter of the space (and expenses such as heat, hydro, etc.) of your home, or less, as your home-office. Trying to claim more invites a closer look from the CRA. “To be able to exercise this deduction, you must use the space exclusively and regularly as your principal place of business,” says accountant Marvin Khoshkhassal of Vancouver-based MK & Associates. “That makes it difficult to successfully claim a guest bedroom or rec room as a home office, even if you also use the space to do your work.”

  • Unusual or large changes in credits or deductions. Red flags go up when things change. “Major changes in income or expenses or tax deductions from one year to the next will raise suspicion,” says Barrett Tax Law, “so do try to be consistent in your declarations.”

  • Claiming your vehicle is used exclusively for business. Even driving to and from work is considered personal use. PricewaterhouseCoopers points out that the CRA “wants to ensure that employees do not receive personal benefits tax-free, when salary, bonus and other forms of compensation would give rise to income tax.”

  • Reporting income that is significantly lower than others in your field or your neighbourhood. Claiming a $30,000 income in a multi-millionaire dollar neighbourhood catches the attention of auditors. Tax lawyers at Gowlings say, “This suggests that an individual may have unreported income. Unreasonably, low reported income is not only an audit trigger but may cause the CRA to initiate a so-called 'net worth' or arbitrary assessment, whereby various tools are deployed by the CRA to impute income to the taxpayer.”

  • Not reporting all of your T-slips. The CRA has an excellent system that matches reported T-slips with those claimed by employers or financial institutions. If a mismatch is detected your return will be reassessed and you could face a hefty penalty.

  • An extraordinarily high TFSA. The CRA has recently begun to target people with very large tax-free savings accounts – hundreds of thousands or even millions of dollars – apparently because of active trading within their TFSA. The issue is that taxpayers are not supposed to use a TFSA to carry on a business. In this case, a trading business. Tax law firm Thorsteinssons LLP warns, “It seems clear that the CRA is intent on challenging those who have enjoyed significant growth within their TFSA.” The tax department wants to tax these gains.

The CRA audited or examined 144,013 accounts during the past fiscal year. No criminal charges were laid in most of these cases, however close scrutiny from the tax department can still be a daunting experience.

Some taxpayers were found guilty. An examination of the account of a certified financial analyst revealed several large transactions and a total gain of about $550,000. In the end, the judge held the taxpayer’s profits to be 100% taxable as business income.

The methodology used by the CRA is not limited to professional traders. Although they seem to be more likely targets, amateur investors with frequent-trading strategies generating huge profits could also find themselves under investigation.

Comparing Canada’s Top Disability Insurance Plans

November 27th, 2017
We reached out to Tim Landry to provide us LSM Insurance with an in-depth analysis of Canada’s top disability insurance plans. 
Tim is been offering disability insurance solutions to Canadians for over 45 years and has a real passion for this market. 
Plan Names: Lifestyle Protection Independence
Market: Professional, White & Blue Collar
Pros: "Build your own plan" product, fit product to budget, excellent policy wording; sickness coverage.
Cons: Because of the "build your own plan", you may not have coverage in your own occupation and may not have coverage for "non-total" disabilities. Independence premiums may be increased and coverage canceled if occupation becomes uninsurable.
Unique Features: (Lifestyle Protection) "Catch up", "Expense Equalizer", "Sale of Business Facilitator", Lifetime Accident and Sickness
Plan Names: Protector, BOSSPlus, Professional, Competitor
Market: Protector is aimed at employees, BOSSPlus at business owners, Professional at higher (2A, 3A, 4A) occupational classes, Competitor at otherwise uninsurable occupations.
Pros: Known as "Blue Collar" company but excellent at all occupations, excellent policy wording, plans designed to fit all needs and budgets.
Cons: Questionable claims reputation, Competitor prices can increase and coverage may be cancelled.
Unique Features: 1st Day Accident, Lifetime Accident and Sickness, Savings Protector
Plan Names: ProGuard, Venture, Synergy, Personal Accident
Market: ProGuard is for higher (2A, 3A, 4A, 4S) occupational classes. Venture has versions aimed at Business Owners, Full-time employees, Permanent Part-time employees, and Farmers. Synergy is a combined Life Insurance, Critical Illness Insurance, and Disability Insurance product. Personal Accident is aimed at those looking for limited coverage, retired, and otherwise uninsurable clients.
Pros: ProGuard has the best policy wording in the industry (as of November 21, 2017); products include PensionGuard and optionally the most liberal Health Protection rider.
Cons: Personal Accident premiums may be increased but the coverage may never be canceled.
Plan Names: Professional, Quantum, Foundation, Bridge, Fundamental, Retirement Protector
Market: Given that they have the most experience to draw on in Canada in this product, they have something to suit every market and every budget. Personally, I would rank them (1) Professional (2) Foundation (3) Quantum (4) Bridge and (5) Fundamental. They are the best for doctors and dentists.
Pros: Guaranteed Standard Issue
Cons: Frankly, I can't think of any except that they have become slower to update their existing policies.
Unique Features: If you have a large or "different" case, they can probably help more than others.
Plan Names: Blue Flex, Blue Vision, Tangible
Market: Clients who are prepared to accept lower cost and lower quality products.
Pros: Can include health and dental protection as well as a conversion to Long-Term Care Insurance.
Cons: Prices not guaranteed
Unique Features: (See Pros)
Plan Names: Solo Disability Insurance, Solo Essential Disability Insurance
Market: Any occupations (Solo Essential is accessible to those who don't otherwise qualify), prime target market clients of unions/Caisse
Pros: Priced to be accessible to those who can't afford better products.
Cons: Premiums can be adjusted.
Unique Features: Critical Illness benefit
Plan Names: Superior Program
Market: Any insurable occupation- the company is strongest in the Professional Association and Union markets, but is very active in all markets.
Pros: Options for 5 years renewable or level to age 65 premium structures.
Cons: Premiums are not guaranteed.
Unique Features: Able to guarantee occupational class and certain benefits
Plan Names: P.A.G.E. and P.A.I.R.E.
Market: Any insurable occupation
Pros: Company is trying to get active with all potentially insurable clients.
Cons: Premiums are not guaranteed.
Unique Features: Limited coverage available for LIFE.
Plan Names: Pillar
Market: Self-employed, Business Owners, and those difficult to insure.
Pros: 1st-day sickness coverage and products specifically designed to insure their market.
Cons: Prices are not guaranteed- you can get better coverage but it will be more expensive.
Unique Features: 1st-day sickness
I have been involved with Living Benefits since October 1969. I have worked for companies as well as MGA's. Originally, my strength was my product knowledge, but Easter Weekend 1988 taught me that product knowledge - no matter how great - is not enough. That weekend I learned that disability can affect everyone and it hit my brother hard. He was in his car driving from Orangeville to the Toronto Airport when some idiot passed him where he should not have. Result: a head-on collision at a combined speed of 200 kmph. We thought we lost him. He has had seven hip rebuilds and the last time I saw him without his cane, he was dancing with his daughter at her wedding.  Still, all this is minor. The blood transfusions that saved his life gave him Hepatitis C. I will do everything in my power so that no one has to live with something like this.

Breaking Down The Cost of a Funeral In Canada

November 20th, 2017

There comes a time in everyone's life when the subject of death has to be brought to the table. Nobody likes to think about it, let alone discuss the topic with their family, but putting off important decisions about final preparations will only make things more difficult for the loved ones you leave behind.

Making final arrangements ahead of time will take a lot of pressure off your survivors. Planning ahead lets everyone know what arrangements have to be made and how much it will cost, freeing them to deal with their grief without worrying about what to do next.

Costs and Arrangements

The cost can vary dramatically, depending on what you want. Eric Vandermeersch, founder and CEO of Basic Funerals, says after-death costs can be as low as $1,500 or as high as $20,000, with the average being around $8,500. He says the cost varies based on personal preferences, culture and values.

“It’s like saying I want to buy a car, what should I budget for,” Vandermeersch explains. “There are a lot of options. There are people looking for just the basics and there are people looking for more traditional ceremonies.”

These are some post-death arrangements you’ll need to consider. Prices are approximate and vary by city and province.

Death certificate ($15-$22) and registration ($55)

Every death must be legally registered before a death certificate can be issued. A death certificate is needed to apply for benefits, make an insurance claim and settle the estate. Costs for the certificate and registration varies by municipality and depends on the number of certificates reqested.

Transferring the body ($100 and up)

Transfer service fees vary based on how many times and how far the body needs to be moved. For example, the body may need to be moved from the place of death or transported to a cemetery or crematorium. You don't necessarily have to use a professional transfer service unless the body needs to be moved out of the province. Obviously, this will cost much more.

Shroud, casket or urn ($0-$3,000 and up)

Caskets and urns come in a wide variety of styles – and prices. From simple to elaborate. Or you can choose the no-cost option – a shroud. Some cemeteries allow you to bury the body in a simple shroud and the crematorium may let you use your own container for the ashes. Even though the funeral home will try to sell you a casket or urn, you don't have to buy from them. You may be able to find a better deal elsewhere.

Preparing the body ($125-$525)

Body preparation consists of bathing and grooming (applying make-up, if you like), then wrapping or dressing. You can also have the body embalmed. Although embalming is recommended, it may not be legally required in your province.

Ceremonies (funeral, visitation, memorial) plus staffing fees ($2,000 or more)

According to Vandermeersch, the sky is the limit when it comes to ceremonies in funeral homes, churches or chapels. “These costs go up because there are more staffing fees to consider, especially when a casket is involved, and then you might have a reception with food.” Of course, formal services aren't mandatory. Family members can have an intimate service in their own home without a special license or permit as long as they’re not being paid.

Burial plots and niches ($1,000 or more)

Family plots and side-by-side plots are generally highly desirable, making them more expensive, however single plots are often quite pricey, as well.

Cremation or burial services ($1,000 and up)

Vandermeersch says the number of Canadians choosing cremation is rising, especially direct cremations, the cheapest option.

Average Funeral Costs Per Province

British Columbia – $1,000 to $12,000. The professional service fee funeral directors charge usually covers transportation of the deceased, death certificate, registration and all the necessary documents.

Alberta – $4000 to $12,000, with the majority costing about $6000.00 – $8000.00.

Saskatchewan – The average cost is about $7,775. This includes a traditional funeral, casket and vault. Cemetery costs, the plot, opening and closing the grave and a grave marker can easily cost another $1,500 to $2,500.

Manitoba – A traditional burial (including a casket, funeral and cemetery costs) averages about $7,000 to $10,000. A $100 surcharge applies to graves dug during the winter.

Ontario - $1,500 to $20,000. Personal preference plays a big role in how a funeral will cost.

Quebec – A typical traditional funeral and burial costs about $9,000.

New Foundland and Labrador – Average funeral costs about $8,000, not including cemetery costs, plot, marker or opening and closing the grave, which can all add up to about another $1,500 to $2,500.

Nova Scotia – The average cost of a traditional funeral is $10,495.

New Brunswick – Funerals in New Brunswick cost about $9,000.

Prince Edward Island – Typical funerals and burials are about $9,000.

Funeral Costs Around the Globe

Tokyo, Japan - $1,629 to $80,393 (¥200,000 to ¥10 million)

Mexico City, Mexico - $482 to $11,568 (7,500-180,000 Pesos)

New York City, United States - $8,000 to $10,000

Toronto, Canada - $1,135 to $9,727 ($1,400 - 12,000 CAD)

London, United Kingdom - $7,433 (£4,836)

Beijing, China - $6,905 (42,837 Yuan)

Rome, Italy - $6,767 (€6,000)

Johannesburg, South Africa - $3,218 (40,000 ZAR)

Dubai, United Arab Emirates - $1,906 to $2,722 (7,000-10,000 Dh)

Moscow, Russia - $830 (46,108 RUB)


We’ve Got The Answers: My Father Had A Stroke; Can He Get A Life Insurance Policy?

November 16th, 2017

Today's Question: My father had a stroke; can he still get a life insurance policy?

The short answer is yes, he should be able to get a policy. The long answer really depends on the type of policy, and the severity and time of the stroke. These factors can potentially affect the insurance application.


If it was a serious stroke and one that occurred recently, he is going to want to look at a simplified issue-type policy. These policies have no medical tests and a series of health questions. The more questions he can answer no to, the better the premium.

If the stroke was a little less serious, things are stable and it happened a while back, a fully underwritten application would be the best to look at. With these types of applications, there is going to be a full series of health questions, a medical test, and they will also write his doctor to verify the details around the stroke.

He can also obtain a preliminary inquiry, where the broker checks with the insurance company to see if he is likely to get approved for coverage, if there is going to be a rating, or if he is going to be declined. If it looks like he is going to be declined, you're going to want to go the simplified issue route as that is going to contain the better options. Some of the simplified issue policies, however, do ask if the applicant has been declined in the past. It is best to avoid that if at all possible.

It is best to speak with a broker who understands the various companies and policies to ensure the best rate for any individual situation.


Have more insurance questions? We have more answers for you here!



Life Insurance and Foreign Travel

November 5th, 2017
Tourists by Claus Rebler
Where you go and
where you’ve been
for the holiday season
can have a major impact
on your insurance premiums.
Photo by Claus Rebler

With the holiday season fast approaching, many people are looking to get out of dodge for a little rest and relaxation. However, past and future travel plans can have a big impact on life insurance premiums.

(Life Insurance and Foreign Travel continued...)


A Life Insurance Evolution: Intelligent Application vs Electronic Application

October 25th, 2017



I recently had the opportunity to sit down with Michael Suska, the National Director of Sales for individual insurance with Humania Assurance Inc. We discussed Humania's intelligent application process and what really distinguishes it from electronic applications which have been around for many years.

Basic Difference

Electronic Application is essentially a fillable paper application. There are some unique advantages in that it makes sure that no questions are missed on the application and it helps with brokers like myself who have less than perfect penmanship! The underwriting process is essentially the same as on a paper application.

The Intelligent Application process, designed by Humania Assurance, is completely different. It is essentially like having a junior underwriter built into the software. The software makes real-time decisions based on the information being input into the application. There are certain basic questions that everyone must complete, but based on the answers to those questions, additional questions will appear to help better facilitate the underwriting process.

Michael states, "We prefer to focus on the results rather than the process of the application as this is what the broker and the consumer are really interested in."

  • We approve 60% of our applications on the spot.
  • There is a reduced need for medical tests. Our research indicated that 97% of the time, a medical test was ordered and resulted in no new information, which essentially bogs down the application process and creates extra work for the broker and the consumer. 
  • Fewer attending physician statements (APS) are needed. Ordering APS' can be expensive and very time consuming, often delaying the approval of the application several weeks and sometimes months.

One of the things Michael goes on to say is, "one of the things I enjoy most about working with Humania Assurance Inc is that we are looking to revolutionize the industry and create a process that is easier and more productive for everyone involved."


The Biggest Life Insurance Mistakes

October 25th, 2017

As part of our Life Insurance Expert series, we asked 10 Financial Experts what they think is the biggest Life Insurance mistake people make.

Here is what they had to say:

#1 Ellen Roseman – Personal Finance Columnist, The Toronto Star

A common mistake is to underestimate the amount of income you can earn from what appears to be a large amount of life insurance. In 2005, I did a column about a man who died at age 45, with $2 million in life insurance for his stay-at-home wife and three young kids. The widow was left with $1.75 million after paying off debts. She invested the proceeds in guaranteed deposits at 3 per cent, which gave her $45,000 to live on (not enough, even with rent from a basement apartment). Mark Halpern, CFP, TEP and Insurance Specialist in Life, Income Protection, Retirement, and Estate Planning, who gave me this example, said he had tried to persuade the man to buy more than $2 million in life insurance. Today, the widow would be making 2 per cent or less on her guaranteed deposits, showing that you need to buy bigger policies at a time of lower interest rates.”

#2 Jamie Golombek – Managing Director, Tax and Estate Planning at CIBC Private Wealth Management

They don’t buy nearly enough term insurance or disability insurance for income protection.”

#3 Jonathan Chevreau – CFO of the Financial Independence Hub

People's biggest mistake might be cashing out their whole-life policies just to raise funds in a temporary cash crunch then to be without coverage when it’s really needed as a consequence of that earlier decision. (I know a couple that is in exactly this situation, with the Grim Reaper now approaching the older partner.)”

#4 Gail Vaz-Oxlade – Financial Columnist, Author and TV Host

Not buying enough or the right kind of life insurance for their specific needs.”

#5 Jim Yih – Blogger, Fee-Only Advisor, Best-Selling Author –

Not having enough coverage and buying insurance that uses post-claim underwriting.”

#6 Bryan Borzykowski – Business and Financial Writer and Editor

Not buying when they start a family. It's so cheap when you're in your in your early 30s that it really shouldn't be put off. You never know what will happen. I think the monthly rate is worth the peace of mind.”

#7 Barry Choi – Budget Travel and Personal Finance Expert at

Not having enough of it, or thinking we're invincible. Insurance isn't just in case of death. If we ever become disabled, it could wreck our earning potential.”

#8 Sheryl Smolkin – Journalist, Retirement Redux

I think that people who fudge their medical questionnaires or do not disclose information about pre-existing conditions are just asking for trouble. Another BIG mistake is when people forget to change their beneficiaries in the case of divorce. It’s an invitation for future litigation when your ex and your new spouse claim the benefits on your death. Finally, never buy mortgage insurance for a whole bunch of reasons, including the fact that the premiums on mortgage insurance stay the same throughout the term (five years, for example), but the payout, if there is one, shrinks with the mortgage.”

#9 Sean Cooper – Pension Analyst and Financial Journalist

I’m not a big fan of mortgage insurance. I wrote a blog -- "Why You Should Avoid Mortgage Life Insurance" -- for the Housing Block. CBC Marketplace has covered this type of life insurance many times. I think a lot of homebuyers make the mistake of not opting out when they sign up for their mortgage. They assume they have sufficient coverage with mortgage insurance and forgo buying term life insurance. Then, tragedy strikes -- the breadwinner dies and the spouse is left raising the children on their own. The spouse is relieved he or she has mortgage insurance – until the claim is denied.”

#10 Lorne Marr – Founder of LSM Insurance

Not buying enough life insurance or not buying any at all. Life Insurance is the most unselfish purchase someone can make because its not for you. This combined with the fact that most people don't won't to think about their own death leave a lot of people grossly under insured.”

The experts all agree that one of the biggest mistakes Canadians make when buying life insurance is that they are not buying enough. For more information about how much coverage you need for your situation, give us a call at 1-866-899-4849 or check out our Quick Needs Analysis.

What Makes Humania Assurance Inc Different – Q&A with Michael Suska

October 24th, 2017

Michael Suska
National Sales Director at Humania Assurance


Can you tell me a little bit about your background? How did you get started in the insurance industry?

I started in the life insurance industry in January 1998 with Great West Life as a disability insurance specialist. I joined Humania Assurance Inc seven and a half years ago and I am currently the National Director of Sales for Individual Insurance.

What are some of the things you find most enjoyable about working with Humania?

Humania is a company that definitely sees the future and acts upon it. We have been able to create the most intelligent and user-friendly insurance application in Canada, HuGO.

What are three things a lot of consumers and brokers may not know about Humania?

  1. As mentioned above, we have the most advanced life insurance technology in Canada.
  2. We have been selling life insurance in Canada since 1874.
  3. We are a mutual insurance company. Therefore, if the company ever demutualized (there are currently no plans to do so), all of our policyholders would potentially get a stake in the potential demutualization proceeds.

What is unique about the Hugo application process?

The HuGO application is really the first of its kind. It's an intelligent application vs the more common electronic application. The intelligent application is basically like having a built-in junior underwriter in your software. The results of 60% of our applications showed being approved on the spot, less medical tests, and the need for fewer attending physician statements (APS). An interesting stat appeared when developing HuGO - 97% of the medical tests we ordered didn't lead to any new information and just resulted in bogging down the application process. So we decided to eliminate the concept of automatic medical requirements.  We only order when absolutely necessary.

Can you give us a rundown of Humania's no medical, critical illness, and disability plans?

We have a unique eligibility process with only six eligibility questions. This means we can help people who would not normally qualify for insurance (life, critical, and disability coverage). Our no medical simplified issue policies provide up to $300,000 of life insurance, $100,000 of critical illness insurance, and $2,500 a month of disability insurance.



Head Office: 2900 John Street Suite #302 Markham, L3R 5G3
Office 1-866-899-4849, 905.248.4849 Fax 905.300.4848

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