Insurance Planning

Insurance is often thought of as an optional extra in the area of personal and business finance – a “nice to have” which can offer protection if things go wrong but certainly not as an important asset in its own right. However, it’s true to say that intelligent insurance planning is a strategy which can protect the vital asset of your ability to earn an income – perhaps the most important asset that you have.

Of course, with so many different types of insurance policies out there, the key challenge lies in working out exactly what type of insurance can add the most value to your portfolio and offer you the most benefit.

If you are serious about ensuring robust protection for your finances and your family, here are the three main areas of insurance that you should consider:

Life insurance

Term insurance offers temporary protection of around 10 to 30 years, usually with an option to renew or convert your policy at the term end. On the other hand, permanent insurance lasts for a lifetime and often offers a death benefit which is payable to your beneficiaries.

Living benefits

This term covers a range of insurance policies, as follows:

  • Disability insurance offers income protection against injury or illness which means that the policyholder cannot work and earn an income.

  • Critical illness insurance covers many common illnesses such as cancer and strokes and offers lump sum payments upon diagnosis.

  • Long term care insurance is often used in later life to insure against the possible need of becoming dependent upon others for your care and can pay for care facilities or care providers.

Although many individuals receive some form of living benefit from their employer, it is recommended that they enhance this policy to ensure that they benefit from an appropriate level of cover which suits their income and financial needs

Understanding your insurance values

It could be said that your personal values dictate the type of insurance that you take out, reflecting what is important to you in their professional and personal lives and how you best want to protect such assets.

The key to smart insurance planning is making sure that your insurance portfolio perfectly matches your financial and life priorities and objectives.

Talk to us, we can help with what makes the most sense for your situation.

Is it Time for Your Insurance Audit?

Has it been awhile since you last looked at your insurance portfolio?

Are you a little vague in your recollection of all the coverage you have and why you have it?

Are you uncertain as to whether or not your portfolio reflects your current situation?

Just like going to the dentist for regular checkups is a necessary evil, reviewing your financial plan and products on a regular basis is also recommended. Circumstances can change over time and making sure your protection is keeping pace is a worthwhile exercise.

A comprehensive audit should review the following:

Is the total death benefit of your life insurance appropriate to your needs? A current capital needs analysis can help to determine this.

If your current coverage is renewable term insurance should the policy be re-written before it renews at a substantial increase? Premiums for new coverage can be significantly lower than the renewal premium of an existing policy.

Is your need for life insurance permanent? If that is the case, you should ensure you have at least some of your needs covered by a permanent plan.

Are you nearing the end of the conversion period on your term policy? If yes, this may be the time to consider converting to permanent insurance.

Is your disability protection in place consistent with your current income? If you have changed jobs does new group coverage impact your personal plan?

Are the beneficiary designations still valid for your current situation? Has there been a re-marriage that may require changing the beneficiary or ownership of the current policy?

In addition, the following are important to note:

  • If your policy is a Universal Life policy with cash value are the investment options still appropriate to market conditions and/or your risk tolerance?

  • If the policy is a Whole Life policy are the dividends adequate to now fund the premium should you wish to take a premium holiday?

  • If your policy was assigned to a lender as collateral for a loan and that loan has been repaid make sure the assignment has been removed.

Does your existing policy qualify for a reduction in premium?

  • If you have you stopped smoking you may qualify to have the premiums reduced to those of a non-smoker.

  • If your policy was issued with a substandard extra premium and your health has improved you may qualify to have the rating removed.

  • If your policy was rated as a result of participation in hazardous activities, e.g. flying, mountain climbing, heli-skiing this rating can be removed if you no longer are active in these activities.

If the current policy is for business purposes the following should also be reviewed:

  • If the policy was to fund a Shareholders’ Agreement or Partnership Agreement, does the amount and type of coverage still satisfy the terms of the agreement?

  • Are the ownership and beneficiary provisions of the policy still valid for Capital Dividend Account planning?

Reviewing your coverage on a regular basis is recommended. Connect with me if you think it would be beneficial to arrange a time to do an Insurance Audit. As always, please feel free to share this information with anyone that may find it of interest.

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The Best Way to Buy Mortgage Insurance

Before buying insurance from your bank to cover your mortgage, understand the difference between self owned mortgage life insurance and bank owned life insurance. The key differences are ownership, premium, coverage, beneficiaries and portability.

Ownership:

  • Self: You own and control the policy.

  • Bank: The bank owns and controls the policy.

Premium:

  • Self: Your premiums are guaranteed at policy issue and discounts are available based on your health.

  • Bank: Premiums are not guaranteed and there are no discounts available based on your health.

Coverage:

  • Self: The coverage that you apply for remains the same.

  • Bank: The coverage is tied to your mortgage balance therefore it decreases as you pay down your mortgage but the premium stays the same.

Beneficiary:

  • Self: You choose who your beneficiary is and they can choose how they want to use the insurance benefit.

  • Bank: The bank is beneficiary and only pays off your mortgage.

Portability:

  • Self: Your policy stays with you regardless of your lender.

  • Bank: Your policy is tied to your lender and if you change, you may need to reapply for insurance.

We’ve created an infographic about the difference between personally owned life insurance vs. bank owned life insurance.

Talk to us, we can help.

Retirement Planning

Most of us understand the benefits of sensible retirement planning. Still, it doesn’t feel relatively straightforward when it comes to creating your retirement strategy and putting it into effect. The reality is that, while there are lots of variables to consider, it isn’t as challenging to create an effective plan for retirement as you may think.

Firstly, let’s consider the merits of a retirement plan. Firstly, the plan will aid you in setting clear goals for your retirement, such as the age that you want to finish work and what you want your retirement to look like in terms of lifestyle. Secondly, it will help you establish how much you need to save to have a retirement that meets your objectives. Thirdly, a plan will allow you to choose your investment options wisely.

How you know how much you need to save is a common question. This depends on three factors:

  • Your age. It makes sense that starting to save for retirement when you are younger means that you need to save less money than starting later in life.

  • Benefits available to you. There is a range of federal government benefits that you might be eligible for, such as the Canada Pension Plan or Old Age Security.

  • Your plans for your retirement will inevitably affect how much you need to save to fund it.

If you haven’t started saving for your retirement yet or have less in your retirement savings plan than you would like, take a look at our top tips to accelerate your savings.

  • Make the most of RRSPs and TFSAs to minimize your tax bill and make your money grow faster.

  • Take advantage of any pensions or savings plans that your workplace offers, as your employer’s contributions can add extra value to your fund.

  • Look at your spending habits to identify opportunities to cut back outgoings and save more.

  • Think about putting spare money into your retirement fund.

Taking steps to create an effective retirement plan is a decision that will pay off as you approach later life, allowing you to have the savings for the retirement that you deserve.

Talk to us; we can help.

Group Insurance vs Individual Life Insurance

“I already have life insurance from work, so why do I need to get it personally?” or “Work has got me covered, I don’t need it.”

While it’s great to have group coverage from your employer or association, in most cases, people don’t understand that there are important differences when it comes to group life insurance vs. self owned life insurance.

Before counting on insurance from your group benefits plan, please take the time to understand the difference between group owned life insurance and personally owned life insurance. The key differences are ownership, premium, coverage, beneficiary and portability.

Ownership:

  • Self: You own and control the policy.

  • Group: The group owns and controls the policy.

Premium:

  • Self: Your premiums are guaranteed at policy issue and discounts are available based on your health.

  • Group: Premiums are not guaranteed and there are no discounts available based on your health. The rates provided are blended depending on your group.

Coverage:

  • Self: You choose based on your needs.

  • Group: In a group plan, the coverage is typically a multiple of your salary. If your coverage is through an association, then it’s usually a flat basic amount.

Beneficiary:

  • Self: You choose who your beneficiary is and they can choose how they want to use the insurance benefit.

  • Group: You choose who your beneficiary is and they can choose how they want to use the insurance benefit.

Portability:

  • Self: Your policy stays with you.

  • Group: Your policy is tied to your group and if you leave your employer or your association, you may need to reapply for insurance.

Talk to us, we can help you figure out what’s best for your situation.

Estate Planning for Business Owners

Estate Planning for Business Owners

What happens when the children grow up and they are no longer dependent on their parents? What happens to your other “baby”- the business? Estate planning for business owners deals with the personal and business assets. Business succession planning is different because it deals with your business assets only and can also take place while you’re alive. You need to have an estate plan regardless if you have a succession plan or not. Estate planning for business owners is typically more complicated because the estate plan needs to deal with:

  • Complex business and personal relationships

  • Bigger and more intricate estates

  • Tax issues

  • Business Succession

When putting an estate plan for a business owner together, one of the most difficult conversations is around fair or equal distribution of assets. What if one of the children are working in the business how do you treat them? Before you begin putting a plan in place, we always encourage open conversation and a family meeting between the parents and children to provide context behind decisions and therefore it minimizes the surprises and provides an opportunity for children to express their concerns.

We’ve put together an infographic checklist that can help you get started on this. We know this can be a difficult conversation so we’re here to help and provide guidance.

Adult Children

  • Fair vs Equal (also known as Equitable vs Equal) – like what’s considered to be fair may not necessarily be equal. ex. Should the daughter that’s been working in the family business for 10 years receive the same shares as the son who hasn’t worked in the family business at all?

  • Are the adult children responsible enough to handle the inheritance? Or would they spend it all?

  • Who works in the family business? Is it all the kids or just one of them?

Family Meeting

  • Encourage open conversation with parents and kids so context can be provided behind the decisions, there are no surprises and allows the kids to express their interests and concerns.

  • Facilitate a family meeting with both generations, this will help promote ongoing family unity after death and decrease the chances of resentment later.

  • Start looking at considerations for a succession plan for the business. (This needs to be documented separately.)

Assets/Liabilities

  • What are your assets? Create a detailed list of your assets such as:

  • Home, Real Estate, Investments- Non registered, TFSA, RRSP, RDSP, RESP, Company Pension Plan, Insurance Policy, Property, Additional revenue sources, etc..

  • What about shares in your business? How does this need to be addressed?

  • What are your liabilities? Create a detailed list of your liabilities such as:

  • Mortgage, Loans (personal, student, car), Line of Credit, Credit card, Other loans (payday, store credit card, utility etc.)

  • Did you personally guarantee any business loans and how does this need to be addressed?

  • Understand your assets-the ownership type (joint, tenants in common, sole etc.), list who are the beneficiaries are for your assets

  • Understand your liabilities- are there any co-signors?

Make sure you have a will that:

  • Assigns an executor.

  • Provide specific instructions for distribution of all assets.

  • Consider a power of attorney for use when you’re incapacitated or otherwise unable to handle your affairs.

  • Always choose 2 qualified people for each position and communicate with them.

Taxes and Probate

  • How much are probate and taxes? (Income tax earned from Jan 1 to date of death + Taxes on Non Registered Assets + Taxes on Registered Assets, Taxes on Business Shares)

  • Are there any outstanding debts to be paid?

  • You’ve worked your whole life- how much of your hard earned money do you want to give to CRA?

  • How much money do you want to to give to your kids while you’re living?

Consider the following:

  • The use of trusts.

  • The use of an estate freeze if you wish to gift while you’re living.

  • The use of a holdco for effective tax planning.

  • Once you determine the amount of taxes, probate, debt, final expenses and gifts required, review your life insurance coverage to see if it meets your needs or if there’s a shortfall.

Execution:It’s good to go through this but you need to do this. Besides doing it yourself, here’s a list of the individuals that can help:

  • Financial Planner/Advisor (CFP)

  • Estate Planning Specialist

  • Insurance Specialist

  • Lawyer

  • Accountant/Tax Specialist

  • Chartered Life Underwriter (CLU)

  • Certified Executor Advisor (CEA)

Next steps…

  • Contact us about helping you get your estate planning in order so you can gain peace of mind that your family is taken care of.

Permanent versus Term Life Insurance – What are the Differences?

Permanent versus Term Life Insurance – What are the Differences?

You know you need life insurance – but you’re not sure which kind is best for you. We can help you with that decision.

There are two main kinds of life insurance:

  • Permanent, which lasts for your entire life.
  • Term, which is only good for a set amount of time.

No matter which type of life insurance you buy – permanent or term – you can rest easy knowing you’ve provided financial protection for your family.

Permanent life insurance

Permanent life insurance is good for your entire life unless you choose to cancel it. It’s an excellent choice to give you peace of mind that you’ll always be covered, even if you develop major health issues later in life.

There are also benefits to having permanent life insurance beyond guaranteed lifelong coverage:

  • You can use the policy to build up a cash value – making it a good choice for low-risk investing.
  • You may be able to use your permanent life insurance policy as collateral for a loan, making it a good choice for business owners.

The main drawback to permanent life insurance policies is that the premiums are often more expensive than term life insurance premiums. If, however, you’re thinking long-term and can afford the premiums, term life insurance is a great way to ensure you’re always protected and can have some guaranteed money for your estate.

Term life insurance

Term life insurance is either valid for a set amount of time (such as five or ten years) or until you reach a set age – for example, 60. You should generally be able to renew your life insurance at the end of each term, but your premiums may go up.

Term life insurance premiums are cheaper than permanent life insurance premiums – at least, you are younger and healthier (as the risk of you dying is lower). Your premiums will increase as you age or develop health issues.

You can’t use term life insurance as collateral for a loan or use the policy to build up a cash value. There are lots of benefits to term life insurance, though – it’s a good choice for you if you want low premiums, easy-to-understand insurance, and only need it for a set amount of time – such as while you have a mortgage or young children.

We can help you decide between permanent and term life insurance

If you’re not sure what kind of life insurance is best for you, we can help. We’re happy to talk to you to get more information about your insurance needs. We can then discuss what each type of insurance will cost you and which type of insurance we feel is best for you.

Give us a call today!

Do you REALLY need life insurance?

You most likely do, but the more important question is, What kind? Whether you’re a young professional starting out, a devoted parent or a successful CEO, securing a life insurance policy is probably one of the most important decisions you will have to make in your adult life. Most people would agree that having financial safety nets in place is a good way to make sure that your loved ones will be taken care of when you pass away. Insurance can also help support your financial obligations and even take care of your estate liabilities. The tricky part, however, is figuring out what kind of life insurance best suits your goals and needs. This quick guide will help you decide what life insurance policy is best for you, depending on who needs to benefit from it and how long you’ll need it. 

Permanent or Term? 

Life insurance can be classified into two principal types: permanent or term. Both have different strengths and weaknesses, depending on what you aim to achieve with your life insurance policy. 

Term life insurance provides death benefits for a limited amount of time, usually for a fixed number of years. Let’s say you get a 30-year term. This means you’ll only pay for each year of those 30 years. If you die before the 30-year period, then your beneficiaries shall receive the death benefits they are entitled to. After the period, the insurance shall expire. You will no longer need to pay premiums, and your beneficiaries will no longer be entitled to any benefits.

Term life insurance is right for you if you are: 

  • The family breadwinner. Death benefits will replace your income for the years that you will have been working, in order to support your family’s needs.

  • A stay-at-home parent. You can set your insurance policy term to cover the years that your child will need financial support, especially for things that you would normally provide as a stay-at-home parent, such as childcare services.

  • A divorced parent. Insurance can cover the cost of child support, and the term can be set depending on how long you need to make support payments.

  • A mortgagor. If you are a homeowner with a mortgage, you can set up your term insurance to cover the years that you have to make payments. This way, your family won’t have to worry about losing their home.

  • A debtor with a co-signed debt. If you have credit card debt or student loans, a term life insurance policy can cover your debt payments. The term can be set to run for the duration of the payments. 

  • A business owner. If you’re a business owner, you may need either a term or permanent life insurance, depending on your needs. If you’re primarily concerned with paying off business debts, then a term life insurance may be your best option. 

Unlike term life insurance, a permanent life insurance does not expire. This means that your beneficiaries can receive death benefits no matter when you die. Aside from death benefits, a permanent life insurance policy can also double as a savings plan. A certain portion of your premiums can build cash value, which you may “withdraw” or borrow for future needs. You can do well with a permanent life insurance policy if you: 

  • …Have a special needs child. As a special needs child will most likely need support for health care and other expenses even as they enter adulthood. Your permanent life insurance can provide them with death benefits any time within their lifetime.

  • …Want to leave something for your loved ones. Regardless of your net worth, permanent life insurance will make sure that your beneficiaries receive what they are entitled to. If you have a high net worth, permanent life insurance can take care of estate taxes. Otherwise, they will still get even a small inheritance through death benefits.

  • …Want to make sure that your funeral expenses are covered. Final expense insurance can provide coverage for funeral expenses for smaller premiums.

  • …Have maximized your retirement plans. As permanent life insurance may also come with a savings component, this can also be used to help you out during retirement.

  • …Own a business. As mentioned earlier, business owners may need either permanent or term, depending on their needs.

A permanent insurance policy can help pay off estate taxes, so that the successors can inherit the business worry-free. Different people have different financial needs, so there is no one-sized-fits-all approach to choosing the right insurance policy for you. Talk to us now, and find out how a permanent or term life insurance can best give you security and peace of mind. 

The Best Way to Buy Mortgage Insurance

Before buying insurance from your bank to cover your mortgage, understand the difference between self owned mortgage life insurance and bank owned life insurance. The key differences are ownership, premium, coverage, beneficiaries and portability.

Ownership:

  • Self: You own and control the policy.

  • Bank: The bank owns and controls the policy.

Premium:

  • Self: Your premiums are guaranteed at policy issue and discounts are available based on your health.

  • Bank: Premiums are not guaranteed and there are no discounts available based on your health.

Coverage:

  • Self: The coverage that you apply for remains the same.

  • Bank: The coverage is tied to your mortgage balance therefore it decreases as you pay down your mortgage but the premium stays the same.

Beneficiary:

  • Self: You choose who your beneficiary is and they can choose how they want to use the insurance benefit.

  • Bank: The bank is beneficiary and only pays off your mortgage.

Portability:

  • Self: Your policy stays with you regardless of your lender.

  • Bank: Your policy is tied to your lender and if you change, you may need to reapply for insurance.

We’ve created an infographic about the difference between personally owned life insurance vs. bank owned life insurance.

Talk to us, we can help.

Self Owned vs. Bank Owned Mortgage Insurance

Before buying insurance from your bank to cover your mortgage, understand the difference between self owned mortgage life insurance and bank owned life insurance. The key differences are ownership, premium, coverage, beneficiaries and portability.

Ownership:

  • Self: You own and control the policy.

  • Bank: The bank owns and controls the policy.

Premium:

  • Self: Your premiums are guaranteed at policy issue and discounts are available based on your health.

  • Bank: Premiums are not guaranteed and there are no discounts available based on your health.

Coverage:

  • Self: The coverage that you apply for remains the same.

  • Bank: The coverage is tied to your mortgage balance therefore it decreases as you pay down your mortgage but the premium stays the same.

Beneficiary:

  • Self: You choose who your beneficiary is and they can choose how they want to use the insurance benefit.

  • Bank: The bank is beneficiary and only pays off your mortgage.

Portability:

  • Self: Your policy stays with you regardless of your lender.

  • Bank: Your policy is tied to your lender and if you change, you may need to reapply for insurance.

We’ve created an infographic about the difference between personally owned life insurance vs. bank owned life insurance.

Talk to us, we can help.