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Everything You Need to Know About Life Insurance in Canada

What is life insurance?

Life insurance can be a means of ensuring you and the ones you love are taken care of financially in a future without you. Life insurance provides a tax-free payment after the policyholder has died.

Your circumstances and needs will determine the amount and type of coverage you ultimately choose. Cost can vary for a life insurance policy depending on the individual’s age, gender, health, medical history, and lifestyle.

Is Life Insurance Right For You?

To evaluate whether a life insurance policy could be right for you, the questions below will prompt you to think about your loved ones’ future without you.

  • If you were to pass away today, would your family have enough money to cover your final expenses, including funeral, cremation and burial costs?
  • Would your loved ones be financially capable of managing the household, i.e. paying the mortgage, utilities, groceries or day-to-day living expenses?
  • Would your loved ones have enough money to replace the income lost after you die?
  • Would your loved ones be left with outstanding debts? Will they have enough money to cover these debts?
  • Would your children have enough money to cover their college education?

Types of Life Insurance

Guaranteed Life Insurance in Canada

What is guaranteed life insurance?

Guaranteed life insurance in Canada is essentially life insurance coverage with guaranteed approval. As long as you are under the maximum age limit defined by a company, you will be approved for this type of policy. The typical max-age cut-off for a guaranteed life insurance policy is 75 years of age.

How does buying guaranteed life insurance work?

When buying a guaranteed life insurance policy, you won’t be required to answer any questions about your health. Next, you will choose your coverage amount and answer a few simple questions.

Are guaranteed life insurance premiums expensive?

The premiums for guaranteed life policies are generally higher than a term coverage when it comes to premium prices. This is due to the increased risk involved on the insurer’s side.

However, this does not mean that guaranteed premiums are not still affordable. The specific pricing of your policy will depend on several factors, including age, health, the value of the death benefit, as well as term length.

How much am I insured under guaranteed life?

Guaranteed life insurance policies typically offer a lower amount of coverage than other policies because they have a higher chance of a payout. The max coverage is generally $25,000; however, some insurers offer coverage up to $50,000.

When to consider guaranteed life insurance?

Guaranteed life insurance is best for those in need of coverage but has been turned down for traditional policies in the past. Consider a guaranteed life insurance policy if you are worried you’ll be denied due to preexisting conditions or your high-risk occupation.

How soon can guaranteed life insurance pay a benefit?

Typically, a guaranteed life insurance policy has a no-claim period of at least 2 years starting from the date the policy goes into effect. For instance, if you were to die within that no-claim period, your beneficiary would receive a refund of the premiums paid during that time.

What factors influence guaranteed life insurance rates?

The factors that contribute to your guaranteed life insurance rate depend solely on your age, sex, coverage amount and whether you are a smoker or not.

Term Life Insurance in Canada

What is Term Life Insurance?

Term life insurance is an affordable, easy-to-understand coverage option that offers you and your loved ones flexible protection.

Under a term life policy, your insurance premiums will not increase for a specific term defined in the contract, unless it is renewed for another term. In the event you die while the policy is in effect, a tax-free payment will go to the beneficiary. Also with most term policies, you are able to convert your term coverage to a permanent insurance regardless of any changes to your health, occupation or lifestyle.

How does Term Life Insurance work?

Term life is an easy way to receive customized coverage for you and the ones you love.

  1. First, you will decide on your desired coverage amount.
  2. Decide if you want your coverage term to last for 10, 20 or 30 years or in some cases till age 65.
  3. Customize your coverage with optional benefits offered by the insurer.
  4. Pay any monthly or annual premiums.
  5. Your coverage will automatically renew.
  6. You can convert to longer-term or permanent life insurance without reporting changes to your health, occupation or lifestyle within defined limits.
  7. The beneficiaries you choose will receive a tax-free payment if you pass away while your policy is paid up and active.

What happens after the initial term ends?

In most cases, your policy will automatically renew for the same length of time unless you request otherwise. However, you can change your coverage amount without a new medical questionnaire. Remember that your premiums may increase based on your new age or the type of product you convert to. Here are the available options to you when your initial term ends:

  • You may cancel your policy at this time if you decide you don’t need it anymore.
  • You can let it renew automatically (in most cases, for the same term, age limit may apply).
  • You can convert to a new longer-term policy.
  • You can convert to permanent or whole life insurance coverage.

How much does a Term Life Insurance cost?

Generally, a term life insurance policy in Canada is the most affordable type of life insurance available. The following factors may affect the price of your policy:

  • Age (Premiums tend to increase with our age)
  • Health (This includes family history, chronic diseases and lifestyle)
  • Gender (Typically, women live longer than men on average)
  • Occupation (Dangerous, high-risk work increases insurance costs)

When should you consider a term life policy?

There are a few reasons to consider a term life policy:

  1. Starting a family: the replacement income provided by your term policy is a great way to help your family through a difficult time, without you.
  2. Buying a home: ensure your family can continue to afford the mortgage, once you are gone.
  3. Simply Planning Ahead: the money left to your family can help cover debts and your final expenses

How much insurance coverage do you need?

To have peace of mind that your loved ones are taken care of once you are gone, you want to assess the magnitude of your debt as a family, including mortgage, college tuitions, auto loans, credit cards or any major expense. Next, using this information, you can now choose a coverage option to ensure your family is not left behind drowning in debt.

Consider the following when assessing your financial circumstance:

  • Your monthly income
  • Your net worth
  • The needs of your family
  • Overall debt
  • Other insurance policies you may have

Whole Life Insurance in Canada

What is whole life insurance?

Whole life is a permanent life insurance option where the policy lasts for your whole life. As long as you continue to make the premium payments on time, your policy will not expire. These policies are more expensive due to the higher chance of a payout. Whole life insurance Canada includes other benefits, including a cash value that builds over time alongside your policy.

Advantages of whole life insurance

Besides providing coverage that lasts your entire life, whole life insurance also offers several features that set it apart from other life insurance products.

1- Premiums do not increase for the entire duration of the policy

While the premium rates for a whole life policy are more expensive than a term life product, the premiums for a whole life policy do not increase for the entire duration of your policy.

2- Fixed Investment Portion

Most whole life insurance products offer an investment component, separate from your insurance component. This feature is described as a participating policy, meaning you are allowed to participate by investing in the insurance company’s profits. Typically, the investment has a steady rate of return with low volatility. These investments are also under a tax shelter; this means all of your investment earnings within a whole life policy are tax-free when left to the beneficiary. However, the income received is taxable if borrowed from the policy prematurely.

3- Cash Value Builds Over Time

Whole life policies also offer a feature known as cash value or cash surrender value (CSV).This cash value continues to grow the longer you have the policy and continue to make on-time premium payments. This feature exists to be borrowed against. You also have the option to redeem the CSV if you cancel your policy early, also known as surrender. However, keep in mind that when you surrender your policy for its CSV, this amount is no longer tax-free, and a significant amount may be forfeited at the time of surrender to cover the taxes.

How much does whole life insurance cost?

Compared to a term life product, whole life policies tend to be more costly. The reason behind this is because a portion of your premium is withheld from building the cash value account.

Universal Life Insurance in Canada

What is universal life insurance?

Universal life insurance is a type of permanent life insurance that is more flexible than whole or term life products. Universal life insurance Canada covers you for life and incorporates an investment account with a potentially high earning investment account.

What is the difference between whole life insurance and universal life insurance?

Universal life insurance offers more flexibility than whole life insurance with better customization of your investment options. The three main differences between the whole and universal life insurance are listed below:

1- Steady Premiums or Investments

With whole life insurance products, they generally guarantee your premiums will not increase for life. In contrast, universal life insurance does not guarantee steady premiums. The universal life policyholder can also choose to invest as little or as much as they want, as long as the minimum deductions are paid.

2- Death Benefit

While whole life insurance usually has a set death benefit (the amount paid to the beneficiary when you die). Universal life insurance, however, has regular deductions that can change over time; this means your death benefit can too. There is typically some flexibility around the death benefit in a universal life insurance policy, meaning you have the opportunity to negotiate these terms with the insurance company.

3- Investment Choices

While both universal and whole life insurances have investment components, they do not offer the same control regarding the investment mix. Whole life insurance invests your cash value into the life insurance company’s larger investment mix (you have no control over your investment). Whereas, Universal life insurance allows you to control where your money is invested.

What are the advantages of universal life insurance?

1- Flexible investment account

Universal life insurance accumulates a cash value, similar to whole life products, known as an account balance. Universal policies allow for more control of your account balance as a powerful investment account.

2- Tax Advantages

Universal life insurance account balances are generally tax-deferred. This gives individuals an additional source of income due to the compounding nature of interest rates.

3- Flexible Premiums

Universal life insurance allows the policyholder to decide the right time and amount invest into their account balance, considering their regular deductions are met within the policy.

What are the disadvantages of universal life insurance?

1- More Expensive

Universal life insurance products are more complex in nature and can cost more overall due to higher administration fees.

2- Complex Investment Mix

Universal life insurance requires more attention from the policyholder to ensure the investment mix continues to meet their needs.

3- More Risk with Investments

Universal life insurance also comes with the added risk that your investments can decrease in value over time.

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Jean-Maximilien is an expert in Canada and France about Loyalty programs, Credit cards and Travel. He is the Founding President of Milesopedia.

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