Why You Should Consider Critical Illness Insurance

If I did a straw poll, I’m sure I’d find that the majority of those asked have some form of life insurance. The reasoning behind taking out this cover is usually centered around the desire to provide protection and security to their family and loved ones in the event of their death, which is clearly an admirable objective. But, if I asked the same group of people who of them had critical illness insurance – essentially, a policy that pays out if you become too ill to work – in all likelihood the number would be much smaller.

Why is this? It makes sense on paper that people would want to sustain their level of income in the event that they become disabled or too ill to work, yet some of the most common objections include the price, a preference to save themselves for such an event (often known as being self-insured) or simply a sense of denial that this could ever happen to them.

Critical illness insurance varies from policy to policy but typical conditions that it covers in Canada includes heart attack, stroke and cancer. Unlike other types of insurance that provide income replacement, if you are seriously ill, critical illness insurance provides a lump sum benefit that can be used in any way you choose.

The benefits of critical illness insurance

Whilst taking out any kind of insurance policy comes down to personal choice and one’s own individual circumstances, many independent financial experts recognize the benefits that critical illness insurance can offer. Here are some of them:

  • Whilst saving and self-insuring can seem like an attractive alternative, it simply isn’t an option for many. Even if you are fortunate enough to have the means to save for such an eventuality, you would need to be able to guarantee a solid and consistent return on your investment for it to outweigh the financial benefit of critical illness insurance – some estimates put this at a rate of around 10% return for 20 years.

  • Whilst some employers do offer company disability plans, they typically do not pay out the full amount of your pay cheque on an ongoing basis, which can have the potential to have a serious impact on your personal finances, just when you need such a worry the least. What’s more, one of the major advantages of a critical illness policy is that, if you are able to return to work and therefore begin earning again, you still have the benefit of the lump sum that has been paid out under the policy – offering you an incomparable measure of financial freedom to potentially pay off your mortgage or put your kids through university. Essentially, offering you much more financial freedom.

In short, there are no perfect answers in the area of your personal finances, but if you are looking for an option that has the potential to offer you a real sense of peace of mind to secure the financial future of you and your family, critical illness insurance is certainly an interesting avenue to explore.

Wealth Protection – Disability Insurance

Everybody understands the value of life insurance and most of us who take our finances seriously have a solid life insurance policy in place. But what happens if you are unlucky enough to sustain a serious illness, chronic disease or disability which prevents you from working? Such a scenario could be disastrous for your family finances and this is where disability insurance comes in.

What is disability insurance?

Disability insurance provides you with a portion of your income in the event that you suffer from an illness or accident which means that you can’t work, either temporarily or on a permanent basis.

Studies show that you are actually more likely to sustain a disability during the course of your working life than to die whilst of working age. A disability can have a dramatic and long-term impact on your earning potential – in fact, the Council for Disability Awareness has found that the average absence from work for a long term disability is nearly three years.*

Types of disability insurance

There are two main types of policy – short-term and long-term disability insurance.

Short-term disability insurance generally offers the policyholder a maximum of 6 months of benefits.

Long-term disability insurance usually kicks in at the end of a short-term disability insurance. Policies differ in terms of the length of time that they offer benefits for and the criteria that must be fulfilled to be eligible.

An important factor in this regard is the definition of “regular or own occupation” or “any occupation”. A “regular or own occupation” policy covers you if you are unable to work in any capacity – meaning that, even if you could perform a role different to the one that you worked in prior to your disability, you will still receive benefits under the plan. Alternatively, an “any occupation” policy means that you will only receive disability benefits if you are unable to work at all.

It’s important to figure out which type of policy suits you better, depending on the cost of the premiums, the type of work that you do and your personal preference. We can help you with this.

Factors to consider when taking out disability insurance

  • How much do you or your family depend on your income?

Dependency is the key question here – if you have a spouse, children and/or other individuals who rely on your income contribution to the household finances, disability insurance is likely to be valuable to you.

However, it is likely that, as you age and your children become less financially dependent on you or you have saved enough retirement funds to help you through a potential early retirement due to ill health, disability insurance becomes less fundamental.

  • How much does your company plan protect you?

Some companies offer a disability policy and this is a common reason for people failing to purchase a personal plan. However, it’s important to understand the level of coverage that your company policy offers you, as it is common for such plans to only replace a small proportion of your income (often capped) across a short-term basis which is unlikely to be sufficient for your needs.

  • Work out your budget and shop around for the best deal

You could benefit from working with an independent financial advisor to help you in the purchase of your disability insurance. They will be able to search the market in order to find you a customized plan which fits your budget, rather than falling back on off-the-shelf policies which may not meet your individual requirements as well.

  • Don’t cut back on your level of coverage where possible

That said, it’s easy to underestimate the level of disability coverage that you actually need should the worst happen. Not only would you have to replace your existing expenditure, but you are likely to accumulate new expenses if you were to become disabled, such as the purchase of medical equipment, healthcare or home help, additional childcare, home renovations etc. Make sure that the benefits that your policy pays out are sufficient to cover all of your financial needs adequately.


Key questions to ask when purchasing disability insurance


There can be a lot of small-print involved in a disability insurance policy. Make sure that you understand the answers to the following, non-exhaustive questions before proceeding:

  • Terms and conditions of the policy- Including how disability is defined, which conditions are eligible and which are excluded and if pre-existing conditions are covered and, if so, to what extent.

  • Policy premiums- Including the total cost of the policy and whether contributions are still required if you are diagnosed with a disability and claiming on the plan.

  • Benefits of the plan- Including the level of benefits you will receive, whether they are adjusted for future inflation and whether they are taxable, any waiting periods for receiving premiums and how a disability is diagnosed.

  • Group plans- Including how the plan is funded (by an insurance company or self-funded by your employer), how your benefits will be affected if the company goes bankrupt and how your coverage will be treated if you leave your job.

Disability insurance is an important cornerstone to achieving your financial goals. Talk to us, we can help.

2019 Federal Budget

2019 Federal Budget

The 2019 budget is titled “Investing in the Middle Class. Here are the highlights from the 2019 Federal Budget.

We’ve put together the key measures for:

  • Individuals and Families

  • Business Owners and Executives

  • Retirement and Retirees

  • Farmers and Fishers

Individuals & Families

Home Buyers’ Plan

Currently, the Home Buyers’ Plan allows first time home buyers to withdraw $25,000 from their Registered Retirement Savings Plan (RRSP), the budget proposes an increase this to $35,000.

First Time Home Buyer Incentive

The Incentive is to provide eligible first-time home buyers with shared equity funding of 5% or 10% of their home purchase price through Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC).

To be eligible:

  • Household income is less than $120,000.

  • There is a cap of no more than 4 times the applicant’s annual income where the mortgage value plus the CMHC loan doesn’t exceed $480,000.

The buyer must pay back CMHC when the property is sold, however details about the dollar amount payable is unclear. There will be further details released later this year.

Canada Training Benefit

A refundable training tax credit to provide up to half eligible tuition and fees associated with training. Eligible individuals will accumulate $250 per year in a notional account to a maximum of $5,000 over a lifetime.

Canadian Drug Agency

National Pharmacare program to help provinces and territories on bulk drug purchases and negotiate better prices for prescription medicine. According to the budget, the goal is to make “prescription drugs affordable for all Canadians.”

Registered Disability Savings Plan (RDSP)

The budget proposes to remove the limitation on the period that a RDSP may remain open after a beneficiary becomes ineligible for the disability tax credit. (DTC) and the requirement for medical certification for the DTC in the future in order for the plan to remain open.

This is a positive change for individuals in the disability community and the proposed measures will apply after 2020.

Business Owners and Executives

Intergenerational Business Transfer

The government will continue consultations with farmers, fishes and other business owners throughout 2019 to develop new proposals to facilitate the intergenerational transfers of businesses.

Employee Stock Options

The introduction of a $200,000 annual cap on employee stock option grants (based on Fair market value) that may receive preferential tax treatment for employees of “large, long-established, mature firms.” More details will be released before this summer.

Retirement and Retirees

Additional types of Annuities under Registered Plans

For certain registered plans, two new types of annuities will be introduced to address longevity risk and providing flexibility: Advanced Life Deferred Annuity and Variable Payment Life Annuity.

This will allow retirees to keep more savings tax-free until later in retirement.

Advanced Life Deferred Annuity (ALDA): An annuity whose commencement can be deferred until age 85. It limits the amount that would be subject to the RRIF minimum, and it also pushes off the time period to just short of age 85.

Variable Payment Life Annuity (VPLA): Permit Pooled Retirement Pension Plans (PRPP) and defined contribution Registered Retirement Plans (RPP) to provide a VPLA to members directly from the plan. A VPLA will provide payments that vary based on the investment performance of the underlying annuities fund and on the mortality experience of VPLA annuitants.

Farmers and Fishers

Small Business Deduction

Farming/Fishing will be entitled to claim a small business deduction on income from sales to any arm’s length purchaser. Producers will be able to market their grain and livestock to the purchaser that makes the most business sense without worrying about potential income tax issues. This measure will apply retroactive to any taxation years that began after March 21, 2016.

To learn how the budget affects you, please don’t hesitate to contact us.

Tax Lines to look out for

It’s that time of year again, when many of us sit down to complete our income tax return and hope that we have done enough preparation to ensure a smooth and speedy process. Unfortunately, there are a number of complexities that can cause us problems – here are a few of the most common issues experienced by individuals when submitting their tax returns:

Medical Expenses

Expenses relating to medical expenses such as prescriptions, dentures and many more can be claimed for a non-refundable tax credit. You should also be aware that you can claim for yourself, your spouse or common law partner and any dependent children under the age of 18. You can also claim for certain other individuals whom you can clearly evidence are dependent on you (and the list of such individuals has recently been widened and can include grandparents, uncles, aunts, nieces and nephews).

Charitable Donations

You can claim tax credits for qualifying charitable donations that you made in 2017, though they are subject to an annual limit at 75% of your net income. You may also be eligible for a provisional donation tax credit. To receive such credits, you must supply a charitable donation receipt as evidence of your donation.

What’s more, there is a new formula for calculating the federal tax credit, depending on the value of donations. This is as follows:

1.    15% of the first $200 of donations

2.    33% of donations equal to the lesser of the amount of taxable income over $202,800 or the amount of donations over $200

3.    29% of total donations not included in the two stages above.

Public Transit Pass

Although this credit ended in the 2017 federal budget, it can still be claimed for the time period of January 1 – June 30, 2017. There are a range of eligible passes, including passes allowing unlimited travel within Canada, short term passes allowing unlimited travel for five days of which at least 20 days’ worth are purchased during a 28 day period and electronic payment cards.

Interest Expense and carrying charges

Interest on money borrowed to earn business or investment income is generally deductible, however interest expenses incurred on money borrowed to generate a capital gain is not tax deductible.

Carry forward information

Take note of the notice of assessment from your previous year’s tax return as it will contain important information that will apply to the submission of your current year’s return, such as your RRSP contribution limit and any carry-forward amounts.

Remember that you may be required to submit receipts alongside your electronic return at a later date, as requested by the CRA.

Child care expenses

Child care expenses include payments made to caregivers, nursery schools, day care centres and camps and other similar institutions. The deduction is usually best claimed by the lower earning spouse.

The deduction is the lesser of the following three:

·      the total qualifying child care expenses which have been incurred

·      $8,000 for each child under the age of 7, as well as $5,000 for each child between 6 and 16 and $11,000 for each child for whom the taxpayer has claimed the disability tax credit.

·      two thirds of the income earned by the individual making the claim.

If you owe money when your income tax return is complete, the only way to delay payment is to delay the filing until the April 30th deadline. Alternatively, if CRA owes you money, then file as early as possible. 

2018 Federal Budget Highlights for Families

Several key changes relating to personal financial arrangements are covered in the Canadian government’s 2018 federal budget, which could affect the finances of you and your family. Below are some of the most significant changes to be aware of:

Parental Leave

The government is creating a new five-week “use-it-or-lose-it” incentive for new fathers to take parental leave. This would increase the EI parental leave to 40 weeks (maximum) when the second parent agrees to take at least 5 weeks off. Effective June 2019, couples who opt for extended parental leave of 18 months, the second parent can take up to 8 additional weeks, at 33% of their income.

Gender Equality

The government aims to reduce the gender wage gap by 2.7% for public servants and 2.6% in the federal private sector. The aim is to ensure that men and women receive the same pay for equal work. They have also announced increased funding for female entrepreneurs.

Trusts

Effective for 2021 tax filings, the government will require reporting for certain trusts to provide information to provide information on identities of all trustees, beneficiaries, settlors of the trust and each person that has the ability to exert control over the trust.

Registered Disability Savings Plan holders

The budget proposes to extend to 2023 the current temporary measure whereby a family member such as a spouse or parent can hold an RDSP plan on behalf of an adult with reduced capacity.

If you would like more information, please don’t hesitate to contact us.