How Does Health Insurance Work?

If you are self-employed or your employer doesn’t offer benefits, you might be stuck paying for your own health costs. In Canada, we are fortunate to have a Pharmacare, but it does not pay for all health expenses. That’s where personal health insurance comes in.

What does it cover?

Health Insurance covers a variety of different expenses, depending on the plan you choose. Generally, they cover a percentage of:

  1. The cost of prescriptions after Pharmacare’s benefit
  2. Basic dental costs like X-rays, cleanings, and fillings
  3. Eye exams and glasses
  4. Certain professional or registered services like massage and chiropractic
  5. Selected medical supplies

Each of these categories will pay a maximum amount of money each year. For example, your prescription drug coverage might cap out at $1,000 per year.

Many plans will also have travel insurance built-in, coverage for hearing aids, and other, smaller benefits. So be sure to shop around!

What does it cost?

These plans vary quite a bit in cost. However, dental coverage is usually what makes one plan more expensive than another. Plans that offer less dental coverage or none at all are typically more affordable.

A plan with all of the coverages listed above and more would cost an individual ~$80/month. With the option to have coverage for the whole family for a higher, set price.

What type of health questions do they ask?

While much less invasive than life or disability insurance, a health insurance application will still ask a number of questions. Including but not limited to:

  1. Whether anyone going on the plan is on medications or receiving treatment currently, like regular massage therapy
  2. If you’ve just left or are about to leave a group plan (this may give you more options)
  3. About any health conditions you have experienced in the last number of months or years, depending on the Insurer

The Insurance Company will want to know when symptoms started, what the cause was, if there was a resolution, and about prescriptions.

What if I already take medications or receive treatment for pain?

Medications you already take will be considered a pre-existing condition and typically so will treatment you are already receiving.

Insurance Companies will not usually cover pre-existing conditions and specify in your policy what, if any, the exclusions are.

The exception is with a non-medically underwritten policy.

In these policies, the Insurer does not ask questions about your health nor do they exclude pre-existing conditions. The trade-off for this extra coverage is typically less coverage for more money.

How do I buy it?

You can buy health insurance from an Insurance Advisor or Broker, select companies have applications on their website, or you can call the Insurance company and have one of their agents sign you up.

We will always recommend that you work with a Broker as they can show you options from multiple companies, getting you the best fit for no extra cost.

At Iron & Pearl Financial, we can offer coverage through four different Canadian carriers. Get Started Here.

Should I Name A Beneficiary?

should I name a beneficiary

Let’s say that you’re filling out a financial form and get to the part where they ask for a Beneficiary name. Why not just leave it to your estate? It can seem like an extra piece of information to give until you understand WHY you need a Beneficiary.

You need a beneficiary to ensure that your money, whether from investments or an insurance policy, goes to the right person or entity.

Unless your lawyer advises otherwise, most people should avoid naming their Estate as the beneficiary (the default).

Funds left to the Estate may be subject to probate or other fees and could get held up. This generally takes over a year to complete. It’s not worth the headache if your loved ones would need the funds sooner than that.

As the owner of the policy or account, you choose who the beneficiary is and can make changes at any time.

Your beneficiary will not have access to your accounts or information. They will simply be given the money once you pass. This is called a Revocable Beneficiary.

The exception to this is to name an Irrevocable Beneficiary. They still cannot make changes to your account or see your information. BUT you cannot make certain changes to your own account, including changing the beneficiary, without their permission. 

Beneficiaries should always be identified by name.

Generics like “my spouse” or “my children” can be ambiguous in the future if, at death, you are in a new relationship or have step-children.

Depending on your personal situation, you may choose to name your partner, parents, or other loved ones as your beneficiary. You can name more than one beneficiary but will need to choose what percentage each party will receive.

As this article is for general information only, be sure to talk to a professional about your specific situation before making any decisions.

And remember, your beneficiary should be updated as required! Checking your policies every two years to ensure your information is up to date is a good habit.

Why Mom-preneurs Need Life Insurance the Most

why mom-preneurs need life insurance the most

As a busy business owner, do you feel like you’re running around like a chicken with its head cut off? Holding client meetings, being a parent taxi in between, meal planning, running the house and being the glue that holds everything together. Who would do all of that if you couldn’t? That’s exactly why mom-preneurs need life insurance the most.

If working from home allows you to chauffeur your kids, run errands, do chores or be a homemaker, your family would be lost if you weren’t there.

Even if you don’t work from home, hired help and put systems in place so that certain things can run smoothly without you there, your family will still be scrambling to do those little things that often get overlooked. Not to mention how much they’d miss you.

Your business may also be an asset.

Having a plan to cover your business expenses until it can be sold would be a tremendous help to your family. Or, maybe your kids are a bit older and one of them would like to run your business. Giving them or your business (if it’s incorporated) a set portion of your life insurance benefit would afford them what they need to transition your company.

For example:

  • Cost of closing your business
  • Covering outstanding debts
  • Capital Gains
  • Ensuring your employees/subcontractors are paid for their work
  • Legal fees
  • Taxes
  • Financial obligations, especially if you personally guaranteed your debts against your home/investments/etc.

Of course, that’s not an exhaustive list – just a starting point. Talk to your Financial Planner/Accountant and Lawyer to determine exactly what you need.

Especially if you’re a sole proprietor, consider your personal taxes as well.

We want to prevent your family from getting any unexpected, large bills. Sitting down with your Insurance Broker or Financial Advisor is the first step in ensuring your personal and business finances are in order if anything does happen.

Mom-preneurs need life insurance the most because they often juggle two important roles – a business and a home.

You have a very important role and play a detrimental part in caring for both your business and your family. Having a life insurance policy and talking about a plan with your partner can ensure that they’ll be taken care of, even if you’re not there.

Remember, you’re in control of your financial future.

It takes time and effort to put plans like this in place, but it’s worth it to know that your family is taken care of.

If you could use weekly reminders about taking a holistic approach to caring for your finances, join our newsletter!

What Is Disability Insurance?

what's disability insurance

There is a type of insurance that’s painfully underrated. I’ve never understood why. It can save your life – or at least your lifestyle. It’s Disability Insurance. What is Disability Insurance? Well, we’re going to cover that in the short video below!

Disability Insurance replaces a portion of your income if you’re too hurt or sick to work.

It gives you the ability to keep paying your bills so you can focus on your recovery. Maybe you’re able to use WorkSafe or Employment Insurance. Just remember, they only pay in certain circumstances and/or for certain periods of time. If you’re self-employed or working a side hustle and not sure what you qualify for, read these 2 blog posts: What If I Get Hurt At My Side Hustle? | Government Benefits for Self-Employed Canadians

EI Insurable Earnings

With a plan like the one we walked through in the video above, Sam was able to fully recover and didn’t have to stress about paying her bills or have increased debt. Having an emergency fund to supplement her Employment Insurance and extending her personal disability insurance waiting period, so that the benefit starts later, made the insurance premium much more affordable.

Disability Insurance is a very flexible product. You can customize when it starts paying you, for how long, and how much.

You can also choose whether you’re covered for accidents, sicknesses or both.

Accident coverage is a simple concept – it will pay you if you can’t work because of an accident. Sickness coverage, on the other hand, is more robust.

Sickness coverage can replace your income from serious illnesses like cancer or other internal pains like muscle wear-and-tear.

Getting both accident and sickness coverage can cover you from *almost all angles.

What Disability Insurance doesn’t cover is medical expenses and long-term care. Those are 2 separate types of insurance.

The benefits of disability insurance shouldn’t be underestimated.

Here’s an example:

Let’s say Sam is 30 years old and makes $50,000 a year as a bookkeeper. The accident was much worse than a concussion and Sam will never be able to work again.

We’re going to make this fair and compare her after-tax income of $39,586.

Assuming Sam works the same job until she’s 65 years old and never gets a raise:

$39,586  X  35 years  =  $1,385,510

If Sam qualified for the CPP Disability benefit (permanently disabled or likely to die from the condition) and received the average $1001.15 per month benefit:

$1001.15  X  12 months  =  $12,013.80    X  35 years  =  $420,483

Let’s minus her CPP benefit from the income she’s missing out on:

$1,385,510 lost wages    $420,483 CPP Benefit = $965,027.00

That means that in the BEST CASE SCENARIO, Sam would lose $965,027.00 in income. And that’s if she never made more than she does right now.

If Sam doesn’t qualify for CPP disability and again, never gets a raise, she’ll lose out on

CAD $
0

But Sam still needs to pay for her living expenses and might need to pay for medications or disability support now, too.

That’s why we believe that disability insurance is painfully underrated.

Remember, you are in control of your financial future. Plans like this can play a crucial role in securing your family’s lifestyle.

It takes time and effort to put in plans like this, but it’s worth it to know your family will be taken care of.

*Each policy is different. There are exclusions in all insurance policies.

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What are My Life and Health Insurance Options?

Trying to figure out what your life and health insurance options are? You have so many choices when it comes to insurance, so this question can spark some confusion. But you’re not alone!

It’s not uncommon to sit down with a new client and they tell us they’re not sure what kind of insurance they need. They just know what they want to prevent.

You can get just about anything covered by insurance nowadays. Kylie Minogue even has her tooshie covered for an easy $3M.

Getting your THINGS covered is fairly straight forward but it gets a bit more tricky when we talk about covering your PERSON.

There’s an endless list of situations you’ll want to cover but only 6 types of insurance. 

your insurance options

Life Insurance

Pick your benefit amount (within reason) and this plan will pay a sum of money to your loved ones when you pass away. That includes Mortgage Insurance, Term Life Insurance, Whole Life and Universal Life Insurance.

If you have debt or a growing family, this is a must!

Disability Insurance

It replaces your income if you can’t work while recovering from an accident or illness. Without an income, how would you pay your bills?

48% of Canadians have disability insurance and almost all of those people are covered through employee benefits, not because they bought it themselves. The other 52% only has E.I. to financially help in this situation – and that stops after 15 weeks – that’s a scary statistic!

Critical Illness

Pick your benefit amount and this plan would pay you a sum of money if you survive a critical illness like cancer, heart attack, etc. If you need to make changes around your home because your abilities have changed, this plan is a lifesaver. Use it to replace your income while you take time off work or celebrate the fact that you survived!

Health Insurance

Health Insurance can help or cover the cost of prescription drugs, dentist visits, physiotherapy and more. Getting hurt or sick can be more than losing your income; there are expenses that come with it. This coverage, as with all insurance, must be purchased before you need to use it.

There are a couple of health insurance options if you know you’ll need to use the plan immediately. But, those plans cost more and cover a lot less.

Travel Insurance

Canadians are pretty lucky to have the health coverage that we do. But, once we’re outside the border, we’re on our own! Make sure you’re covered wherever you go with travel insurance.

From surprise dental surgery to changing your flights last minute, travel insurance is super affordable for how much it can save you.

Business Insurance

Your life and health insurance options can be set up so that your small business gets the benefit. Having your business as the beneficiary will allow it to keep operating, even if you can’t. Make sure your business is covered! 

From covering the financial loss of your right-hand-worker who has to take a leave, to offering employee benefits, you have a lot of options!

Remember, YOU’RE in control of your financial future.

It takes time and effort to put plans like this in place but it’s worth it to know that your family is taken care of.

Have some follow-up questions? Book a Quick Call with us! We’re here to help 💪

What Does Travel Insurance Cover?

Whether it’s for work or fun, travel insurance often gets brought up when you’re going away. Not sure if you even need to get it? Visit our blog post on that on that first. If you’re sure you need it but are wondering what does travel insurance cover and are confused about the situation, you’re in the right spot! 

Travel Insurance covers you for extra expenses you might have if something bad happens on your trip.  

You’ll have the option to cover everything from cancelling your trip after you’ve paid for non-refundable hotel and airfare, to ending up in the hospital after an accident or catching a serious bug. You can even get coverage if the airline loses your luggage and leaves you with one pair of underwear. 

Now, I make light of it with the one pair of underwear thing, but people’s lives have been ruined over an out of country hospital bill forcing them to declare bankruptcy. 

However, you may already have travel insurance! 

Take a look at your Work Group Benefits plan and see if that offers anything. Your credit card or other member benefits plans that you’re a part of could also be used in this situation. Make sure you take a look at what you’re actually covered for and how much before you leave. 

For example, some credit card companies offer travel insurance, but only if you booked your trip using that credit card. Others will only cover you in certain, extreme situations and all plans have a maximum amount of money they’ll pay 

If you have multiple plans that cover you – for example, coverage through your credit card AND you’ve bought separate travel insurance – the contracts will tell you who the “First Payer is. That’s the Insurance Policy that has to pay you first. You’ll submit your bill/receipt to that company and they’ll pay you based on what the contract says. If they pay the whole thing, your second policy WILL NOT pay you. If the First Payer doesn’t cover your whole bill, THEN you can send the remainder to the next insurance company. You cannot have one bill paid by 2 companies. 

Keep in mind, most plans WILL NOT cover you if you’re intoxicated when you get hurt. 

For Canadians, each province has its own health plan. Just because you’re a Canadian resident does not mean you’ll be as covered in other provinces as you are by your own Province’s health plan. Provincial health care coverage is required for these individual plans, so make sure your account is up to date. Plan accordingly.  

Travel Insurance is there to cover the expenses of getting hurt in another Country or Province. You don’t pay into other Country’s medical systems like you do in Canada through MSP (or equivalent) and taxes, so you have to pay that Country’s full price. And it can be very expensive. 

Ending up in the Hospital or passing away and needing to transport your body home are the most expensive things you’ll want to cover. As I said, you’ll have to pay full price for any hospital and medical attention you require.  

Travel insurance covers a number of things. Here are a few benefits you might want in your plan: 

  • Emergency MedicalEvents or sickness that could land you in the hospital, Doctor’s office, etc. 
  • Trip cancellation and InterruptionGetting your money back if you have to unexpectedly cancel your trip or having to book a hotel if your flight is delayed.
  • Baggage loss, damage, or delayTo keep clothes on your back if your baggage is delayed or to replace items if it gets lost
  • Travel accident including death and dismembermentpassing away in another country is VERY expensive. Your body needs to be processed and specially transported back home. 

Travel Insurance is certainly worth it, but it’s not mandatory. The chances of having to use your insurance is quite low. The risk you’re taking on, however, is MUCH greater than if you were at home and put in the same situation. 

There are 2 MOST IMPORTANT things you need to know about Travel Insurance: 

  1. How to claim: know before you go. Your policy might require you get certain Doctor’s notes or Xray photos that will be hard to get once you’re back home. 
  2. You’ll probably have to pay the cost up front. Most often, you’ll have to pay the Dentist/Doctor/ Pharmacy bill before you leave their office. You’ll submit the receipt to the Travel Insurance company when you’re back home to be reimbursed. Make sure you have some emergency cash! 

 

Looking for a travel insurance? Give us a call!

Happy Travels 💃🕺 

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Should I buy travel insurance if I’m just visiting family?

We’d been planning this trip since we first started dating. My husband is a Can-Aussie (that’s half Canadian, half Australian) and hadn’t been back to Australia since his early teens. So, at this point, it’d been about 10 years. He was pretty disappointed his Canadian wife didn’t know what a ‘real wave’ was 😆 

We found a crazy deal on plane tickets and, after 6 years together, finally booked our trip Down Under! We were incredibly excited. The bikinis were bought, bags were packed, pets were taken care of. But we hadn’t bought Travel Insurance. 

Our trip wasn’t going to be dangerous in any way – the main goal was visiting Family and jumping in waves. 

Australia is home to him and everything would be in English anyways. Plus, the trip was really expensive to bookWe didn’t want to waste our money on insurance because, honestly, it’s not like we’d have to use it. It’s not a dangerous country and we’d be with Family the entire time. 

But I was terrified of the snakes and spiders (the only ones we ended up seeing were in a zoo 😎) so I bought it just in case. 

5 days into our 3 week long trip, we were staying in this dingy hotel downtown and I wake up in the middle of the night feeling like I’m in a horror movie. My face felt like someone had taken a baseball bat to it. I’d never had this before but was bawling from the sharp, throbbing pain in my jaw. 

First thing the next morning, we went to a walk-in clinic. They weren’t sure what was wrong ($150.00). So, thesent me to a Dentist ($300.00). This pain in my jaw would not go away. 

After plenty of xrays and questionnaires, the Dentist tells me my wisdom tooth was badly infected from a weird kind of cavity. My only option was to have it pulled on the spot ($215.00) and continue the trip on antibiotics ($80.00). 

She had me in and out of that chair in 5 minutes – seriously, this Dentist was incredible. 

Our emergency Dental coverage was $500 this cost $515. 

The emergency medical part of our plan covered the walk-in-clinic and the prescription drugs. 

This $20 travel insurance plan saved me a $730.00 bill from a surprise wisdom tooth infection. 

From the Dentist, we left on our 6hour journey to visit more Family.

Now, wherever I’m going, I will buy travel insurance.

I really hope you do too. 

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Do I Need Travel Insurance?

Holy Toledo, traveling is expensive!! The planes, hotels, food, entertainment… it adds up so fast. We both know you worked REALLY hard to go on this vacation. So it can be super temping to try and save a few bucks however you can – even on a $20 travel insurance bill. That could be the cost for an entire experience! Do you really need to buy travel insurance? 

Well, that depends! I’m a huge advocate of buying it after that time I almost didn’t. But you don’t want to buy it if you don’t NEED to. 

Surprise! You may already have travel insurance! 

Take a look at your Work Group Benefits plan and see if that offers anything. Your credit card or other member benefits plans could also be helpful. Just take a look at what it actually covers you for before you leave; they likely won’t cover you in countries currently on the Canadian travel advisory list and there may be other limitations that surprise you. Learn more in our article on What to Know Before Buying Travel Insurance.

No one wants to be pressured into buying something. So, rather than telling you why I think it’s important, ask yourself these questions: 

  1. How safe is the Country you’re going to? Check out the BC Gov Travel Advisory. Keep in mind, many travel insurance plans exclude certain countries and have other limitations.
  2. What’s your plan if you get sick while you’re there? Plan for anything from a cold to critical illnesses (heart attack, picking up a disease, etc.)
  3. If you break your leg, can your trip continue?
  4. What if your body decides now is the time to tell you you have a health concern? It happened to me!
  5. If you were in a car accident and ended up in the hospital, could you afford the bill?
  6. If you die while you’re there, your body will need to be processed and transported back. That costs thousands of dollars even for neighboring countries. Could your family afford that? 
  7. What’s your plan if you get sick and the airline won’t let you on the plane until you’re healthy? 

Now, of course, none of this is going to happen to you 😉 

But, if you’re concerned that it could, go ahead and get travel insurance. You can’t get it once you need it!  

If you’re under 60, it’s quite affordable. You’ll be offered a lot of options from coverage for the concerns above (Emergency Medical Coverage) to trip cancellation insurance, baggage insurance, and many more. 

Looking for travel insurance? Give us a call!

Happy Travels 💃🕺 

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What to Know Before Buying Travel Insurance

So, your Wanderlust got the better of you and you’re off on a new adventure! But adventure has a chance to go sideways, and that’s what you’re here to prepare for. It’s not super complicated, but there are a few things to know before buying travel insurance.

First, how often do you travel?

You’ll get to pick if you want to buy travel insurance for the one trip or coverage for the whole year. Buying by the year costs a bit more up front but if you’re going away a couple times in a year, you can save a lot!

When it comes to buying travel insurance, there are a number of things you may want to insure. The most important being accidents and emergencies (including death).

Driving back through the boarder with a broken leg after a day of shopping is one thing, but if you passed away unexpectedly, your body needs to be properly processed through the boarder – a surprisingly expensive event!

For short trips, what would happen if you ended up in the hospital from a serious accident?

For longer trips, add getting hurt or sick and needing to see a doctor before you can fly home to your list of concerns. There are plenty of other emergencies that could land you with a Doctor’s bill! (link to my travel story)

Less serious things to think of are trip cancellation insurance if you have to cancel unexpectedly, baggage insurance in case yours gets lost (to help buy fresh clothes/toiletries/etc.), and rental car protection.

Keep in mind, there are certain countries that Insurance companies will not cover you in. Specifically, countries with civil unrest or on the Canadian Government’s Travel Advisory.

There are exclusions to almost all Travel Insurance policies. You won’t be covered if you are intoxicated by liquor or drugs, skydiving, professional racing and other sports.

Traveling with medical conditions?

Make sure you disclose it to your insurance agent. There are companies that will cover you EVEN IF you have a health concern. Make sure that you look at what you policy’s “Stability Period” is. That’s the amount of time your condition needs to be stable for, before you can apply for insurance. It’s typically a 90-180 day period BEFORE YOU APPLY. This includes ANY changes to medication. If in doubt, ask to fill out a health declaration and get written approval from the insurer – your Insurance Broker can help with this.

 Whether the company looks at your medical history when you apply for the coverage or when you make a claim, they will find out if you have an existing condition. Honesty is the best way to make sure you receive the benefit if you need it.

Here’s where you can buy travel insurance:

  • An Insurance Agent/Broker: Some may sell travel policies.
  • Travel Agency: These professionals are not licensed in insurance but can still sell travel insurance.
  • Online: It can be much more difficult to make sure you get the right travel plan this way.

There are 2 IMPORTANT things you need to know about Travel Insurance:

  1. How to claim: Know before you go. Your policy might require you get certain Doctor’s notes or Xray photos that you won’t be able to get once you’re back home.
  2. You’ll likely have to pay the cost up front. Most often, you’ll have to pay the Dentist/Doctor/ Pharmacy bill before you leave their office. You’ll submit the receipt to the Travel Insurance company when you’re back home to be reimbursed. Make sure you have some emergency cash!

Whenever possible, call the Insurance Company’s Emergency number for assistance. This can help with choosing a hospital, accessing translation, and getting help with or arranging bill payment.

There can always be unexpected situations that we didn’t cover here. The best way to make sure you get the help you need, is to know what your contract says!

And that’s what to know before buying travel insurance! Hopefully you don’t have to use it, but it’s important to have just in case.

Happy Travels! 💃🕺

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Common Mistakes to Avoid When Making a Claim

I’ve had to file a few Insurance and Government Benefit claims in the last few years. There are a number of common mistakes to avoid when making a claim!

I’ve been through this process 8+ times in the last 4 years (it was a chaotic season 😆) and have learned many lessons. I made a few mistakes that you can learn from when claiming benefits from a personally-owned policy, work group plan, and Government Programs like WCB/ICBC/E.I. It’s a big part of WHY I chose to work in this field. 

Making a claim – using your insurance policy or Government program – involves A LOT of paperwork and there’s room for error.

There are a lot of common mistakes to avoid when making a claim. Here are some tips that may help!

First, don’t wait to say you’re hurt!

Injuries can take a few days to develop. Document what happened either by going to the Doctor or filling out an incident report. I had an issue when I didn’t think a work accident was a big deal until a few days later. By that time, I couldn’t prove it happened at work. It’s especially important with a muscle injury which can be considered wear and tear of your body.

Next, keep a paper trail.

This is important! Carriers cannot and will not take your word that there was an accident or that you’re sick. You MUST document it properly. This could be an incident report at work, going to your Doctor, walk-in clinic, or emergency room. Some companies may accept a report from a professional such as a massage therapist, chiropodist or chiropractor.

Continue to keep a paper trail of your injury. Some people keep a journal of their pain, appointments, phone calls, etc. We found it really helpful when my husband was thrown from a ladder and we had a hard time getting coverage for the tissue damage he suffered. Journaling isn’t required, but it can save you some big headaches. Again, the companies will not take your word for it, so you need to continue to follow up with your Doctor, massage therapist, chiropractor, or other licensed professional – Carriers will accept documentation from specific professionals, so check first.

Even while my husband was working after that ladder fall, he went to go to the Doctor every 2 weeks to get proper documentation on his pain because it didn’t feel right. It was his saving grace when, what we thought to be an easy-to-prove injury, was still denied. If he’d stopped going to the Doctor (even while his claims papers were being processed), we couldn’t have proved the extent of his injury to have the decision appealed. One more time for the people in the back: Claims Adjusters will not accept your word for it!

Specific to Disability insurance: You will not be covered for your full wage so make sure you have enough insurance AND an emergency fund!

Canada has an All Sources Maximum. That’s the total amount of money you can get from disability insurance, Government Benefits, and any other source COMBINED. Its 85% of your NET income. For example, if you’re getting a disability benefit from ICBC and you have accident insurance, together they can pay you a maximum of 85% of your income (after-tax).

You’re still out 15% of your income. Think about the extra expenses you’ll have because of your injury too – extra take-out, child-care, your partner taking time off work to help you, etc. We all know someone who’s been on disability – what were they worried about? This is why Emergency Funds are so important.

The 3rd mistake to avoid when making a claim is not asking for direction from the claim’s adjuster.

Adjusters have a lot of cases on the go. To make YOUR life easier, ask how long it’ll take when you’re waiting on an answer from them. They’ll probably be able to tell you it’ll be at least a few days/2 weeks/etc.
The process will be smoother if you’re on the same page.

I’ve also had adjusters that wouldn’t return my calls.
One time, I was almost cut off my benefit because my contact person wasn’t responding and the company thought they hadn’t received an update from me in weeks. That’s not a slam against adjusters – they have an incredible amount of work on their plates.

My rule of thumb is, if I can’t get a hold of them in over 2 weeks (not including how long they had told me I’d be waiting), I call in and ask to be transferred to a new adjuster. 

The last mistake I made was not knowing the contract.

You need to know your contract! Many points are standard through insurance contracts and Government disability benefit programs. Each source will have specific requirements when you make a claim. For example, when we went to Australia, I got traveler’s insurance. Being a realist (and having made this mistake already), I read the contract first. AND I’M GLAD I DID! I had a very painful, infected wisdom tooth 6 days into our 21-day trip and had to go to the dentist. I knew the contract and that I’d need a note from my dentist, including pictures, proving it was unexpected, emergency dental surgery. It would’ve been hard to get when I made the claim a month later! The tooth was pulled on the spot and getting reimbursed for my expenses was easy.

Contracts can be hard to understand. It’s why I’m such an advocate of having an Insurance Agent. Whether it’s an agent or a broker, having someone that you can call, rather than a 1-800 number, when you are in situations like this will make all the difference.

Remember, this is in no way legal advice or counsel and is based on my experience in these situations. The information is of my opinion and experience and does not reflect the industry as a whole. Please click on the links provided and talk to your Insurance Adviser with any specific questions.

Being injured can be a stressful time. I hope that this article will help you avoid some of the common mistakes that I made while going through the claims process!

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What Happens When You Apply for Life Insurance?

Meet your Advisor!

The Insurance process can seem intimidating when you’re not sure what to expect. From questions about your finances to very personal health questions and tests. What happens when you apply for Life Insurance?

It can be overwhelming to start the process if you don’t know how it works!

Here, we know that Education is Power.

This short cartoon will walk you through what happens when you apply for life insurance.

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What happens when you apply for life insurance?

Depending on a number of factors, getting an insurance plan can be almost instant or take a few months. There isn’t much you can do to effect the timeline – it’ll depend on the Insurance Company you apply with, the type of insurance plan you get (or more accurately, how big of a plan you get), and your medical history, as well as a number of other factors.

Getting Insurance is meant to be a simple process but, when dealing with anything health related, there can always be complications. So, let’s walk through the steps of how the situation will ideally pan out. Remember, it may not work out exactly like this, but this is the typical process:

1. Meet your Advisor

In the first meeting with your Advisor, they’ll ask you about your goals, finances and figure out what you need.

2. Advisor finds options for you

Your Advisor will take the information you gave them and go to the drawing board. If you’re working with a Broker (like myself), they’ll be looking different plans from multiple companies. They may have a plan in mind already and be able to start the process in the same meeting, but they’ll likely have to come back for a second appointment.

3. Pick the Plan

Your agent will show you the plans they have in mind (they should be giving you a couple of options) and help you pick a plan that works just right for you.

4. Apply

Then, you’ll apply! You’ll be asked questions abut your health, habits, job and income. Be honest with your Advisor! The questions will be very personal about your current and past health, (likely) as well as the health of your close family members. Your job and income will determine how much you can have coverage for – this is by law and not necessarily dependent on the Insurance Company.

5. Medical

Whether it’s life or disability insurance, you’ll likely have to go through a medical. How that works will depend on many factors including the Insurance Company you’re applying with, health history, habits, etc. It can range from a phone interview to blood and urine samples or even special scans and tests. The Company needs to determine what they’re willing to cover you for with all the ‘information on the table’ so to speak.

6. Pay your First Bill

Once you’re approved, you’ll have to pay your first bill (or premium) to start the coverage. You might give them a credit card to charge when you first apply or wait until they’ve accepted your application to pay – again, this is determined by a number of factors including the Insurance Company that you’re applying with and personal preference.

And that’s all there is to it! Your agent should walk you through the process and help with any hiccups along the way, making the process easier for you.

Insurance is an incredibly important step towards financial independence and preparing for the emergency situations that life can bring. You won’t know how valuable a plan is until you need it. But,  it won’t happen to you, right? These things always seem to happen to other people, so make sure your friends and family sit down with an Insurance Agent or Broker! 

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What Should I Know About Mortgage Insurance?

This post was made in September 2019 and is specific to Canadian policies and information. It is intended solely for the personal non-commercial use of the user who accepts full responsibility for its use. While I have taken precaution to ensure that the content of this site is both current and accurate, errors can occur.
The information contained in this site is general in nature and should not be considered to be legal, tax, accounting, consulting or any other professional advice. In all cases you should consult with professional advisors familiar with your particular factual situation for advice concerning specific matters before making any decisions.

Let’s go ahead and start this from the very beginning. What IS mortgage insurance?

Mortgage Insurance helps you pay off your mortgage if you pass away. It could also pay your monthly mortgage fee if you’re not able to work for a period of time. It’s an optional coverage that you’d buy either through the bank when you get your mortgage or through an Insurance agent. If you’re familiar, Mortgage Insurance is like Term Insurance.

No one wants to think about it but, if you pass away, who will pay your mortgage?

If you’re single, the bill will probably go to a family member who would, likely, have to cover your mortgage payments until they’re able to sell your home. If you’re married, will your spouse be able to cover the mortgage and all other expenses without your income? Will they need to take time off of work after you pass? In that case, your family would lose both incomes until your spouse is ready to go back to work. Keep in mind, your payments will still be required if you’re not able to bring home a paycheck! 

And that, my friends, is what mortgage insurance covers. 

So, what’s the difference between buying from the bank vs. an insurance advisor?

Insurance from the bank is typically more convenient. It (usually) gets taken out of your account with the mortgage so you don’t have to think of an extra bill payment. Also, you can sign up for it as you’re dealing with the mortgage approval.

While personal insurance doesn’t offer those conveniences, it has plenty of other benefits you need to consider. To start, you’ll know what you’re covered for before you make a claim. When you buy an insurance policy, it goes through Underwriting. That’s a process where a professional looks at your application, medical history, etc. and decides if the company will issue you a policy. You can be approved or denied. Or, you could be approved except for XYZ – meaning you’re covered, UNLESS you pass away from a returning illness, hereditary health conditions, etc.
You want them to do this when you apply to give yourself options before you need to use the insurance.

On the contrary, Mortgage Insurance offered through a bank is, generally speaking, a simple questionnaire approving most people on the spot. However, they’ll wait until you make a claim before they send it to the underwriter. That means you won’t know if there’s an exception to what you’re covered for until it’s too late.

With personal insurance, you own the policy. You keep it even when you move or pay off your mortgage. It’ll pay the Life Insurance Benefit directly to your family (or estate) if you pass away. Your family can use the money to pay off the mortgage or chose to split it between the mortgage and another unforeseen expense.

Life Insurance through the bank will be paid directly to the bank and used to pay off your mortgage.

You’ll typically get comparable rates for an Insurance Policy from the Bank as an Insurance Agent.

There are plenty of other things to know about mortgage insurance (good and bad) so I suggest sitting down with a professional to ask questions before you chose a policy. Always make sure you understand what the contract says. If your situation doesn’t match the criteria and definitions in the contract, you will not be paid out.

These are some good questions to ask:

  • If/When I pass away, who will the money go to?
  • Does the benefit ever change?
  • If I’m too hurt or sick to go to work (make an income) for a period of time, will this plan offer me any benefits?
    • If the answer is yes, ask what the “Definition of Disability” is. You’re essentially asking, “How badly do I have to be hurt before they’ll pay me?”
    • Ask how long you’ll have to be off work before they start to pay you.
  • Who is covered under this plan? If you and your partner buy a home, it may be only the Primary Applicant who’s covered. But what if something happened to the other partner?
  • If I make changes to my mortgage, will this policy be canceled, or will it move with me even if I change lenders?
  • When will they decide if I qualify for the insurance policy I’ve chosen?
    I realize that question sounds redundant but many policies, especially the ones with few questions and approve you right away, aren’t looked at by the Underwriter (the person who decides if you qualify and what the insurance company will cover you for) until you’re asking for the money i.e. making a claim. This is a very important question.

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How to Know if You’re Talking to the Right Insurance Agent

There’s one simple mistake that a lot of us make when we start looking into an insurance policy – we think each insurance agent sells all kinds of insurance. And us agent aren’t great at clearing this up from the beginning. So, here’s a very basic explanation on how it works!

There are 2 categories of insurance: People (Personal) and Things (General).

General Insurance Agents can cover you for much more than just things, but the concept makes it easy to understand. They sell car insurance, house insurance, liability coverage, prepare for expensive emergencies, etc. They’ll help you cover things you can touch, expensive emergency situations (like hotel expenses after a house fire), and situations where you could be liable. There are levels of Insurance licenses the agent will be in depending on how many programs they choose to take. The more programs they take, the more coverage they can offer you.

Personal Insurance Agents can help you protect your ability to make money. If you’re too hurt or sick to work, or if you pass away, you’re not bringing in an income. Taking care of yourself while you’re disabled or paying for funeral expenses will also COST money. Personal Insurance Agents look at what you already qualify for – from Government Benefits to Employee Benefit Plans –  and find an insurance plan that works for you.

Insurance agents want to help. So if you’re ever confused on whether you’re talking to the right ‘type’ of agent, just ask them!

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