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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.



How A Good Nights Sleep Could Save You Money on Your Life Insurance

October 23rd, 2017

To be happy, healthy and productive, you need to get enough sleep.

People who take care of their health and aim for longevity deserve to pay less for life insurance and sleep is an important factor for good health throughout your life. Getting enough quality sleep can help protect your physical health, mental health, safety and quality of life.

How you feel during your waking hours depends on how well you have slept. While sleeping, your body continues to work on maintaining physical health and supporting healthy brain function. In children, sleep also promotes growth and development.

Damage from lack of sleep can happen in an instant (like falling asleep at the wheel), or it can gradually cause harm over time. Ongoing sleep deficiency affects your concentration, reaction time, learning and working capabilities. It can also contribute to chronic mental and physical health problems.

Millions of Canadians are affected by chronic sleep disorders and occasional sleeping problems that seriously diminish their health, alertness and safety. Depression, hypertension, stroke, heart disease and many other chronic illnesses have been linked to untreated sleep disorders. Sleeping disorders can mean not enough sleep, too much sleep or poor quality sleep.

The Institute of Medicine recently estimated in its report, Sleep Disorders and Sleep Deprivation: An Unmet Public Health Problem, that “hundreds of billions of dollars a year are spent on direct medical costs related to sleep disorders such as doctor visits, hospital services, prescriptions, and over-the-counter medications.” Problems with getting the right kind of sleep can affect everything in your life from productivity in your work or personal life to behavioural and relationship problems. It can also have serious consequences. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, sleepy drivers claim more than 1,500 lives each year and cause at least 100,000 motor vehicle crashes.

Impact on health – if you’re not sleeping, you’re not healthy.

One of the missing pieces in the health conversation today is the importance of sleep. Sleep helps your brain work properly. When you are sleeping, your brain continues to work. It prepares and plans for the next day and creates avenues that help you learn and retain information.

Sleep studies have proven that a good night’s sleep improves your learning capacity. Studies also show that a lack of sleep alters the way parts of the brain function resulting in indecisiveness, emotional and behavioural problems. Sleep deficiency has also been linked to depression and suicide.

Physical benefits of proper sleep involve healing and repairing your body. You not only rest your bones, but over-stressed heart and blood vessels have a chance to rejuvenate and become stronger, reducing your risk of developing heart disease, high blood pressure, kidney disease and many other illnesses.

Lack of sleep not only affects your physical health, it has a big impact on your mental health as well. If you are not getting 7-9 hours of quality sleep, your whole outlook on life change. You may feel less motivated, tired all the time and emotionally drained.

For years doctors and researchers have seen the link between how people are sleeping and how they are feeling. For example, insomniacs are more likely to become depressed than people who sleep well. They are 10-17 times more prone to clinical anxiety and depression.

Learn How to Get a Good Nights Sleep

We have discovered two great methods to help you get the proper, restful sleep you need to stay healthy.

Blue Light Blocking Glasses

These glasses block artificial blue light. Devices such as cellphones emit this blue light that affects the level of melatonin your body produces; a chemical that helps us sleep at night. Essentially, blue light tricks your body into thinking it is daytime.

This Book Will Put You to Sleep – In a Good Way

Sleep Smarter (by Shawn Stevenson) is a fun and entertaining book about how sleep impacts your mind, body and performance, without skimping on the “how to’s” to get the sleep you really deserve. The book has already been enjoyed by millions of people, including our founder, Lorne Marr. In fact, sleep is one of the key pillars of Mr. Marr’s personal philosophy on health.

“It doesn’t matter what you eat if you don’t get your sleep! Shawn Stevenson has thrown a spotlight on the disease of insomnia and lack of sleep that is killing so many of us. This book is the perfect introduction to the tools and strategies that could fix your broken sleep.”

―Alexandra Jamieson, bestselling author and costar of the hit movie Super Size Me

“We’ve all read books on the importance of eating healthy and exercise, but sleep is an essential component of a healthy lifestyle that many people overlook. Sleep Smarter has everything the average person needs to become a ‘professional sleeper’ to further enhance their quality of life.”

―Drew Manning, New York Times bestselling author of Fit2Fat2Fit

What The Financial Experts Own – Chad Larmond

October 20th, 2017

Chad created Larmond Risk Management in 2011 to help business owners, professionals & executives in securing the future of their families and businesses. Chad prides himself on treating his clients with the utmost professionalism. His consultative approach to insurance planning allows his clients to feel confident in their coverage as they preserve and grow their wealth. His patience and keen attention to detail ensure that his client’s best interests are consistently a top priority.  

Chad is committed to building long-term relationships with all of his clients. His goal is to be your financial planning partner for life.

Chad has been involved with several charitable organizations, most prominently with Cystic Fibrosis as Co-Chair for their annual Durham Region golf tournament.

Chad is a proud husband & father. He resides in the GTA with his beautiful wife, Dana, and their three awesome children. He values the time he spends with his family, friends, and clients. His passions include hockey, golf and downhill skiing.


What Type of Life Insurance do you own?

I own Term Life Insurance as a means to replace my income for my wife and 3 children.  I also own Permanent Cash Value Life Insurance so as to provide additional tax-exempt investments as part of my overall portfolio.  I also believe that owning Permanent Life Insurance is your license to spend your money during retirement.  No matter how much money we accumulate, there is always the worry of outliving our assets.  


What factors did you consider when determining the coverage amount?

I considered my full financial situation including current & future earnings, debt and savings.  I also considered what a reasonable (more guaranteed) investment rate of return would be when investing life insurance proceeds so as to produce an annual income for my family.

Do you believe in Life Insurance for Children? 

Yes, if the parents are properly insured first or if grandparents are buying a policy as a gift.  Personally, I also have my 3 children covered with a lump sum Critical Illness Insurance policy that returns 75% of my premiums when they reach age 25 (assuming no claims).  After age 25, the coverage continues for life whereby 100% of premiums will be returned anytime after their age 40 (upon surrender of the policy and assuming no claims at that time).

What is The Biggest Life Insurance mistake people make?

The biggest mistake would be not insuring your full human value.  We would never buy insurance for our home that would only replace half of the house, but many people are severely underinsured in comparison to their future potential earnings.

Outside of Life Insurance what other types of individual insurance are often overlooked?

The most overlooked category of insurance is what the industry refers to as Living Benefits (LB).  So many people rely too heavily upon their group plans.  These group/association plans leave them unnecessarily exposed due to standard gaps and caveats that exist.  One of the most important purchases you can make as a professional is a properly designed income protection plan (disability insurance) complemented with lump sum critical illness insurance.

<- Back to What The Experts Own


Why Genetic Testing Has Insurance Companies Up In Arms

October 19th, 2017

Life insurance companies in Canada are once again initiating new measures to help protect consumers from discrimination based on their genetic profile. Critics, however, are not convinced the changes will ensure fair treatment.

The voluntary pledge states that people applying for a life insurance policy of up to $250,000 will no longer be asked or required to provide information about previous genetic tests. Insurance companies are still allowed to use this information when applicants seek larger amounts, but consumers won’t be asked for the results of the tests if done for medical purposes and the person has not been informed of the outcome. Family members of the applicant won’t be required to undergo genetic testing.

According to Frank Swedlove, president and CEO of the Canadian Life and Health Insurance Association, “What we wanted to do is ensure the vast majority of Canadians would be able to buy life insurance and not need to worry about this issue of genetic test results.”

The issue of genetic discrimination has increasingly become a contentious topic in Canada as scientific advances and lower testing fees make it possible for anyone to know in advance if they may have a gene predisposed to certain diseases, cancer or other health conditions. Every year the number of diseases that can identified through genetic testing increases.

Proponents of the federal bill banning genetic discrimination content the new measures don’t reach to the root of the problem. Canadians could still be targeted by insurance providers, employers and others.

Liberal MP Rob Oliphant, who sponsored the bill in the House said, “Legislation is needed to protect Canadians from being unfairly targeted because of their genes. I don’t think voluntary efforts, when it comes to discrimination, are ever appropriate. The reality is there is a power imbalance.”

Noah Shack, director of policy at the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs stated, “They’ve known about the problem of genetic discrimination for years and chose to really do nothing until the 11th hour. Insurance is only part of the issue. Canadians need protection from the host of ways companies, landlords, employers and others may use genetic testing results.”

As of January, 2017 life insurance companies in Canada stopped requesting or using genetic testing information for new life insurance applications up to $250,000. The latest insurance industry policy is slated to become effective as of Jan. 1, 2018 and would only apply to life insurance, not critical illness or other products.

Wendy Hope, vice-president of external relations with the Canadian Life and Health Insurance Association, stated in an e-mail, “Such products are directly related to health status and that not using or having access to genetic testing information would make the cost of these products prohibitive.”

Mr. Swedlove said the commitment made by the industry will meet the needs of the 85% of Canadians with life insurance coverage of $250,000 or less, therefore new rules aren’t needed.

“The bill isn’t really necessary to meet the needs for the vast majority of Canadians,” he said.

Mr. Swedlove went on to say that the bill could present serious harm because applicants genetically predisposed to critical health conditions could drive up the costs for everyone if they are allowed to enter the “pool” or category from which premiums are set.

Bev Heim-Myers, chair of the Canadian Coalition for Genetic Fairness, said capping life insurance without genetic testing requirements at $250,000 is discriminatory in and of itself and unfairly targets those who might want or need more coverage.

Insurance issues aside, she said legislation is necessary because without it, Canadians may forgo genetic testing that could inform them of potential health risks and allow them to take preventive action. According to MedCan, the majority of people who have had genetic tests make proactive life changes such as healthier diets and more exercise.

“This is about the health and well-being of Canadians,” Ms. Heim-Myers said. “This is about Canadians being able to make their own choices.”

Debate is About More Than Genetics

Insurance companies fear that a potentially high-risk client – someone genetically predisposed to breast cancer, for instance – could buy a large insurance policy at the same rate as someone without the cancer gene. With the ban in place, the industry might feel it’s necessary to increase premiums across the board.

The side in favour of the bill, like the Canadian Coalition for Genetic Fairness, fears that being forced to disclose genetic testing and the results, will discourage people from being tested. This could lead to a delay in diagnosis and treatment. It could also discourage Canadians from getting life insurance due to the high premiums for being a higher-risk.

Timothy Caulfield, director of research at the Health Law Institute at the University of Alberta speaks of other fears: The rash of horrific predictions regarding the evils of tampering with genetics and the fears that followed the decoding of the human genome, such as an army of clones, designer babies and the creation of a genetic underclass.

Full human genomes can now be decoded for about $5,000 and there is data on over 32,000 genetic predispositions. However, the link between genes and the development of diseases is very complex.

In Policy Options, Professor Caulfield writes, “There is little evidence to support the idea that genetic discrimination is a big problem. If it does happen, it certainly doesn’t happen on a scale that would classify it as a pressing policy dilemma,”

From an insurer’s perspective, if an individual’s genetic information is available, then you could argue that it should be shared with an insurance provider to accurately assess risk as this form of testing can be very helpful in determining the probability of a future disorder. In this sense, genetic testing results are part of your medical history.

From the consumer’s perspective, there are obvious concerns about discrimination, even though it is difficult to determine the number of cases that have occurred. However, the main benefit of genetic testing is that you will understand the risks you are exposed to and will be able to take preventive actions much sooner.

Legislation is Not Necessary

CLHIA president Frank Swedlove says legislation is not necessary. The industry is responding to concerns raised about the amount of personal information insurers can gather.

He says self-regulation pre-empts federal legislation. The industry doesn’t require new genetic testing during the application process, but customers must disclose all medical information and history when buying a new policy – including genetic tests.

Swedlove says collecting genetic test results for insurance policies of $250,000 or more is necessary in order to manage the industry’s financial risks.

“Our goal is to continue to ensure that all Canadians can access insurance at fair and reasonable prices,” Swedlove says.

Pros to Consumer and Cons to Insurance Companies

Bill S-201, the Genetic Non-Discrimination Act, seeks to revise the Canada Labour Code and the Canadian Human Rights Act to make it illegal for employers, insurance companies and anyone else entering into a contract or providing goods or services to require anyone to undergo genetic testing or to disclose the results of a genetic test.

The bill was designed to ban discrimination based on a person’s genetic makeup. For example, if tests reveal you have the Huntington’s disease gene, you could be fired or denied employment or insurance. Proponents of the bill, initiated in 2015 by Liberal Sen. James Cowan, argue that fear of such repercussions may prevent people from getting genetic testing.

The insurance industry disagrees with this legislation arguing that it could impede access to insurance for some Canadians and thereby severely compromise the viability of the industry. In theory, if a person knows he is genetically predisposed with a life threatening disease, he could buy millions of dollars worth of life insurance at essentially discounted rates, without telling the insurance company he may die early.

The concept of equal information is absolutely at the core of insurance,” says Stephen Frank, senior vice-president, policy, at the Canadian Life and Health Insurance Association (CLHIA). “The rule is, if we’re going to offer you insurance, both of us need to understand the risk that we’re taking, so that we can enter into this in good faith. And this type of approach would break that chain.”

The industry states that if the bill passes the result would be higher premiums for everyone. “You’d have to write a lot of $300,000 policies to make up for a couple million dollars of unexpected loss,” says Frank. He points to a Canadian Institute of Actuaries study that estimated, over time, passage of the bill could result in 50% premium increases for women and 30% for men.

Others believe the impact would be less severe. The Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada, citing 2011 and 2012 studies, concluded the legislation “would not have significant adverse impact on the viability of the life and health insurance industry,” and that premiums would likely not rise more than about 3% overall and the industry could absorb this increase.

Dr. Michael Hoy, an economics professor at the University of Guelph who specializes in insurance market information, says, “No one can predict the precise impact of such legislation. The insurance industry is justified in arguing that people possessing devastating genetic information would be prompted to buy more insurance.”

But the thing is,” he continues, “there aren’t very many people in the population who have such devastating information that they can keep [it] private from insurance companies.” Given that applicants would still have to disclose personal and family medical histories, insurance companies would know if someone had a strong family history of, for example, breast cancer or Huntington’s disease, and would rate policies accordingly.

So, if you spread those extra costs across the entire insurance pool,” continues Hoy, “they probably won’t lead to very substantial increases. I’m not saying that 30% or 50% increases couldn’t someday be a sensible set of assumptions, but I think that’s very far down the road.”

Toronto insurance consultant David Wm. Brown is less sanguine. “Genetic testing is at its embryonic stage. Eventually, we’re going to be able to test for everything,” he says. “If we get to that point, and applicants can have more knowledge than insurance companies on almost every question they ask, then it completely skews a system based on mutual disclosure of information.”

Frank says insurance companies voluntarily agree not to ask applicants or existing policyholders to undergo genetic testing. And beginning January 1, 2018, CLHIA members won’t ask for the results for policies worth less than $250,000, which is about 85% of policies issued. Any amount over that, he says, “we would still want to understand why you are asking for so much coverage.”

He continues to say these measures take into account the importance of genetic privacy to Canadians. “It’s a compromise that will allow the industry and the market to be sustained at a price point that people find affordable, but that will protect industry from being taken advantage of by people who have information they are not disclosing.”

The way the bill stands now, insurance companies are not allowed to ask applicants for genetic testing results. Should legislation pass as it currently written, says Brown, advisors would be put into murky water pertaining to disclosure and ethics. The insurance application, he points out, directly asks agents if they know of any factors that might affect underwriting.

If I know that somebody has had genetic testing, then I personally believe I am obligated to inform the [insurance] company that I do know that information. We have a certain fiduciary responsibility to both the provider and the purchaser, and I think anyone who wants to do the right thing has to disclose what they know. How [the legislation will] deal with that, I don’t know,” he says.

Liberal MP Randy Boissonnault has put forward several motions to amend Bill S-201, effectively removing the insurance industry from its scope. The amendments and the bill are up for vote in the House of Commons in early April.

In the meantime, the Genetic Non-Discrimination Act points to a more systemic problem for the insurance industry – public perception that insurance companies are predators.

It’s a bit of a mis-perception from the advocates, that we use genetic tests as a way to say no,” says Frank. “Insurers want to write business. We’re in the business of covering people. So we’re never going to be looking for reasons to say no.”

Brown agrees. “People still don’t understand the concept of insurance as a spread of risk among a common ground of people,” he says. “All they see is, ‘The bad insurance companies want to get more information in order not to pay claims.’” He argues that Bill S-201 could pass solely on this emotional argument, which, ironically, could have negative repercussions for the industry and consumers alike. “We need to do a better job of explaining insurance to the public.”

We’ve Got The Answers: How Can I Motivate My Clients to Take Action?

October 18th, 2017

Today’s Life Insurance Question: how can I motivate my clients to take action?

This question came to me while I was thinking about The Raptors season starting tomorrow (and it just so happens I am prepared with my Raptors shirt today!). I thought about a challenge that Coach Casey faces- how does he motivate his players?

As advisors, we face the same challenge and that is getting our clients to take action, especially with something such as life insurance, which is an intangible product. A big part of dealing with this challenge, in this case, is showing your clients the need- why they need the product and what the product can do for them. 

Life Insurance is a very valuable product that can change peoples lives and it’s our job as advisors to show people the value and what it can do for them and their family. This is how you motivate people to take action!

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



We’ve Got The Answers: How Will Diabetes Impact my Life Insurance?

October 11th, 2017

Today’s Question: I am a diabetic, how will that impact my life insurance?

Diabetes certainly has a large impact on your life insurance, but thankfully, insurance companies are a lot more lenient today than they were in years gone by. If you are a diabetic, obtaining a life insurance policy is relatively easy and like anything, it depends based on various factors.


Factors such as your weight, any medications you are on, your blood sugar reading, whether or not your diabetes is insulin dependent or not all impact the premium on a traditional fully underwritten policy.

If the individual is an insulin dependent diabetic or if their diabetes is not under control, they may want to look at a simplified issue policy. These policies have a short series of health questions and no medical tests. The more question that you can answer no to, the better the rate. 

It is best to speak to a broker who understands all that restrictions and limitations when it comes to any health problems, that way you get the best possible policy for your particular situation.

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


What Makes IA Excellence Different- Q & A with Jaclyn Nemethy

October 10th, 2017


I recently reached out to Jaclyn Nemethy, Regional Sales Director at IA Excellence to give a breakdown on what makes IA Excellence so different.

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

Jaclyn Nemethy is a graduate of the University of Toronto with an Honours degree in Human Biology. She joined IA Excellence as the Inside Sales Associate and has been a Regional Sales Director servicing Ontario for the past three and a half years. Jaclyn’s experience includes three years as the Ontario representative of North America’s leading provider of laboratory services for medical underwriting. Jaclyn is known for her thorough knowledge and providing her advisors with exceptional support and training on all the living benefits solutions IA Excellence can offer. She sits on the Advocis Toronto Chapter Board as a Director. She recently attained her CHS designation and is now working towards her CLU designation.

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

IA Excellence is a relatively new brand outside Quebec. I enjoy working with our agency and broker partners in developing their awareness and skills in growing and servicing a DI marketplace. There are endless prospects with living benefits in Canada today and I enjoy being there to help brokers develop their skill set to uncover this massive opportunity.

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

Living Benefits – At IA Excellence, our main focus is living benefits. Our product is designed to offer robust DI and CI solutions to an under-served middle market.

Largest Guaranteed Renewable DI Provider in Canada – According to the LIMRA.

Paperless – IA Excellence has moved to a paperless platform called Assure&Go. This platform has allowed for customers to obtain insurance immediately through a simple non-medical application process. It also allows brokers to contact more clients and offer solutions because applications can be done non-face-to-face.

Can you give a quick rundown of the different Disability Plans at IA Excellence?

We have a few flagship products:

1.  Acci-Jet – Simple issue Income Replacement up to $6000 per month.  Only 3 questions for the Accident and Soft Tissue coverage.  You can also add illness with another set of questions found on the application.
2.  Superior – Underwritten Income replacement up to $10,000 per month.  Accident and illness coverage. 
3.  Universal Loan – Creditor Insurance
                                        i.    Up to $5000 of tax-free monthly benefit based on client debt rather than income (Example – mortgage, car loan, line of credit, corporate loan…)
                                      ii.    The entire amount applied for is non-integrated with any other income DI (Example – group DI, WSIB, EI, CPP…)
                                    iii.    We pay the insured directly (we do not pay the financial institution where the loan is).
                                    iv.    Underwritten at time of application (not like bank insurance that is underwritten at time of claim).
                                      v.    Policy is completely portable between different loans and different financial institutions.
4.  Acci-7 – Accident Insurance for all Ages (15 days old to age 80)

25 Life Insurance Traps To Avoid

October 9th, 2017

Getting life insurance is important, however it can be tricky. There a few traps some people fall into. As with any contract, always pay close attention to the fine print! That tiny font could have a serious impact on your life – and the life of your loved ones.

A little common sense and careful planning can help you avoid making mistakes with your life insurance and ensure your family is properly protected. Watch out for the following fine print “traps.” 

Trap #1 Pre-existing Medical Conditions

Not reporting pre-existing medical conditions can void your policy. Leaving out vital information is the same as lying. When your insurance company determines that you have lied on your application, your claim will most likely be denied.

Trap #2 Conditions for Renewal

Having a policy for many years does not mean you will automatically be accepted for renewal. Some policies may have an automatic renewal option, but this will likely be at a higher rate because you will be older and your health may not be what it was when you first applied.

Trap #3 Special Insurances

There are instances when you may need specialty coverage but beware of unnecessary insurance such as mortgage and accidental death coverage. Naturally, you want your mortgage to be paid off in case the major breadwinner dies (your lender will insist on it), but your traditional life insurance policy should be enough to cover your outstanding debt, including your mortgage, without the need and expense of special mortgage coverage. Special accidental coverage only pays when the insured dies in an accident, whereas a traditional policy pays no matter how the insured dies.

Trap #4 Your Job

Some jobs are more dangerous than others (mining, construction, etc.). A dangerous job could put you into a higher risk category. If you change jobs after your application was accepted, your claim may be denied on the basis of this new, more dangerous job.

Trap #5 Your Hobbies

You may be declined life insurance coverage if you participate in extreme or dangerous sports. If you like to sky-dive or race cars, read your policy very carefully because chances are you will not be covered. If you don’t mention these hobbies on your application, your claim may be denied.

Trap #6 The Waiting Period

Many people don’t realize that they are not covered the minute their application is accepted. Some policies, especially guaranteed issue life insurance policies, have a 2-year waiting period. A non-accidental death within the first 2 years generally results in a refund of premiums and nothing more. This is to prevent insurance fraud.

Trap #7 Frequency of Payments

Paying your premiums annually can save you money. Annual payments mean the insurance company can save administrative costs and may pass these savings onto you.

Trap #8 Your Driving History

Hiding your driving record, especially serious accidents you may have caused or repeated traffic violations, can cause your claim to be denied. Dangerous driving puts your life at risk which means higher premiums. Not disclosing your driving history could be interpreted as insurance fraud.

Trap #9 Rate Increases

A term life policy with a level premium guarantees a set premium for the life of your policy. However, the fine print may include an automatic renewal clause. The renewed premiums can be much higher than what you have been paying.

Trap #10 Affinity Groups

Many professional associations have created group life insurance plans for their members. These plans save you the hassle of shopping around for coverage, but won’t necessarily save you any money. To enjoy the group rates, you must be a member of the association. The annual dues of the organization may eat up any savings you may get from lower group premiums.

Trap #11 Beneficiary Designations

When you buy life insurance, you choose who will receive the benefits in the event of your death. It’s important to look at your policy once in a while to ensure the beneficiary you chose in the beginning is still the person you wish to designate. Many people forget to update old policies when they remarry.

Trap #12 Estate Tax

If you are the owner of your life insurance policy, benefits may be considered part of your estate and subject to estate tax. This isn’t usually the case, but read the fine print carefully to make sure your beneficiaries will receive all of the death benefits tax-free.

Trap #13 Crummey Letters

An Irrevocable Life Insurance Trust can help to avoid estate tax. You can transfer the ownership of your life insurance policy to the ILIT or the trust can buy the policy. You can add to this trust fund with annual exclusion gifts. The owners of the fund must notify your beneficiaries of the exclusion gift with what is called a “Crummey letter.” These notices allow the beneficiary to withdraw the gift right away. Without the Crummey letters, your gift is rolled into the balance and doesn’t qualify as an exclusion gift.

Trap #14 Relying Solely on Your Group Plan

A group life insurance policy is a nice benefit offered to most full-time employees. Unfortunately, the coverage amount is usually not enough. Plans generally pay a death benefit of 1 to 2 times your annual salary. If you have a large mortgage and small children, this may not be enough. Plus, coverage ends when you leave the company, which means you have to try to obtain a new life insurance policy and could end up paying higher rates.

Trap #15 Naming Your Estate as Beneficiary

Certain types of life insurance are an important part of estate planning, however it is not usually a good idea to name your estate as your beneficiary. When your loved ones are not an option, it is generally better to name a trust, a charity or an organization. If you name your estate, the money could be tied up for months or years, not benefiting anyone.

Trap #16 Naming a Minor Your Beneficiary

Most people buy life insurance to help their children, but naming them as the beneficiaries when they are still minors is not wise. Insurance benefits can’t be paid until the court appoints a legal guardian for the children. This takes time and money. It’s better to name a trusted adult as the beneficiary (someone who will use the money to raise the children) or to set up a trust fund.

Trap #17 Not Shopping Around

The internet provides easy access to every insurance company in the country, so there is no reason not to shop around, but some people still don’t bother. Life insurance premiums for the same amount of coverage can vary widely from one company to another. For example, a $500,000, 20-year term policy for a 30-year old non-smoking male can range from $240 to $650 a year. Read the fine print. There is more to consider than just price – read carefully to see exactly what you get for your money.

Trap #18 Waiting too Long

No one wants to think about dying, but putting off buying life insurance won’t prolong your life. All you will get is higher premiums and a greater chance of being declined. Your age and health are two major factors in determining your eligibility and cost of premiums, so the longer you wait, the more it will cost, if you can still qualify at all.

Trap #19 Not Buying Enough Coverage

Deciding how much coverage you need isn’t easy. It is one of the most frequently asked questions we encounter. The most important factor is taking the financial burden of your death off your loved ones. Calculate your debt, your obligations (college tuition, raising your children, etc) and the amount of time you want your income to be replaced.

Trap #20 Not Choosing the Right Type

There are different types of life insurance – term, whole life, universal life, disability insurance, critical illness, guaranteed issue and group plans. Your needs, budget, health and various other factors will determine the type that’s best for you. An experienced insurance adviser can help you choose the right type of coverage for your situation.

Trap #21 Keeping Your Policy a Secret

Personal finances are just that – personal and private. Many people don’t like to discuss their finances, not even with family members. However, you must let somebody know about your life insurance policy or your beneficiary won’t be able to make a claim in the event of your death. Besides your spouse or adult children, other people you might want to let in on your secret include your attorney, executor or financial advisor.

Trap # 22 Under Insuring Yourself

A term life insurance policy can be quite affordable. A young, healthy individual can get a great policy for just a few dollars a day. That is a small price to pay for the piece of mind of knowing your loved ones will be provided with some financial security.

Trap #23 Getting the Wrong Term

Term life insurance is convenient and sufficient coverage for most people, however how do you know how long you will need coverage? One school of thought is to out live the need for life insurance – which means that your mortgage and all of your debt is paid off and you have enough savings and investments to last for the rest of your life and maybe the lives of your children. Can you achieve this in 10, 20 or 30 years? At the end of each term, your premiums will increase dramatically because you will be older and your health will likely have deteriorated – you may even have been diagnosed with a serious illness since your last policy renewal, which could mean you will be denied coverage.

Trap #24 Cancelling Your Policy

Cancelling a life insurance policy is easy, but getting it back is not. Think very carefully before you decide to cancel your policy. This decision could be very costly in the long run.

Trap #25 Buying Term Insurance and Not Investing the Savings

Permanent life insurance policies combine insurance coverage with tax-sheltered investments. The premiums are higher with this type of insurance, but the investment and cash value portion of the policy makes it worth while. You may think that you will save the extra cost of premiums and invest the difference yourself. This sounds great in theory, but will you really invest the difference?

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