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What is life insurance?
Life insurance is a policy between you and an insurer that allows you to protect your assets, survivors and dependents from the financial burden of your death.
How does life insurance work?
If you have a life insurance policy, upon your death, your beneficiaries will receive a guaranteed payment of the value of your policy - to help them cover your funeral costs, manage debts and assist with supplementing your loss of income. The type of benefit your beneficiaries receive depends on:
- Coverage - The amount of life insurance you purchase is the amount that your beneficiaries will receive, upon your death. Life insurance benefit payments are tax-free.
To help you determine how much coverage you need you should consider:
- Financial needs - Your standard of living, your assets and liabilities, and how much money will be required to ensure your beneficiaries live a comfortable life when you are gone.
- Premiums - A premium is the amount you pay, usually on a monthly basis, for your life insurance coverage. Your premium is determined by the value of the policy and the duration of coverage, e.g., one, five, ten, 20 years or life.
- Type - There are two main categories of life insurance: term insurance and permanent insurance (including whole life and universal life).
What is Whole Life Insurance?
Whole life insurance, or whole of life assurance (in the Commonwealth of Nations), sometimes called "straight life" or "ordinary life," is a life insurance policy which is guaranteed to remain in force for the insured's entire lifetime, provided required premiums are paid, or to the maturity date. As a life insurance policy it represents a contract between the insured and insurer that as long as the contract terms are met, the insurer will pay the death benefit of the policy to the policy's beneficiaries when the insured dies. Because whole life policies are guaranteed to remain in force as long as the required premiums are paid, the premiums are typically much higher than those of term life insurance where the premium is fixed only for a limited term. Whole life premiums are fixed, based on the age of issue, and usually do not increase with age. The insured party normally pays premiums until death, except for limited pay policies which may be paid up in 10 years, 20 years, or at age 65. Whole life insurance belongs to the cash value category of life insurance, which also includes universal life, variable life, and endowment policies.
Works cited: Wikipedia
What is Universal Life Insurance?
Universal Life insurance, (often shortened to UL) is a type of cash value life insurance, sold primarily in the United States. Under the terms of the policy, the excess of premium payments above the current cost of insurance is credited to the cash value of the policy, which is credited each month with interest. The policy is debited each month by a cost of insurance (COI) charge as well as any other policy charges and fees drawn from the cash value, even if no premium payment is made that month. Interest credited to the account is determined by the insurer but has a contractual minimum rate (often 2%). When an earnings rate is pegged to a financial index such as a stock, bond or other interest rate index, the policy is an "Indexed universal life" contract. Such policies offer the advantage of guaranteed level premiums throughout the insured's lifetime at a substantially lower premium cost than an equivalent whole life policy at first. The cost of insurance always increases, as is found on the cost index table (usually p. 3 of a contract). That not only allows for easy comparison of costs between carriers but also works well in irrevocable life insurance trusts (ILITs) since cash is of no consequence.
What is term life insurance?
Whether you are looking to protect your family or your business, Term life insurance offers affordable and flexible protection you can customize to meet your temporary and growing needs.
The period (or term) of the coverage can be either a fixed number of years or to a set age (e.g. age 65).
How does term life insurance work?
Term life insurance generally offers:
- Short-term coverage for a fixed period of time, often one, five, ten or 20 years, or to age 60 or 65
- Structured premium options, based on the type of term life policy and the term
- Lower premiums than permanent life insurance policies, partly because term policies do not offer cash value or other forfeiting values
If you have a term life policy, and die during the term of your policy, your beneficiaries receive a:
- Death benefit - The proceeds of your coverage, in a lump sum payment, which are tax-free
What is Critical illness insurance?
Critical Illness Insurance, otherwise known as critical illness cover or a dread disease policy, is an insurance product in which the insurer is contracted to typically make a lump sum cash payment if the policyholder is diagnosed with one of the specific illnesses on a predetermined list as part of an insurance policy.
The policy may also be structured to pay out regular income and the payout may also be on the policyholder undergoing a surgical procedure, for example, having a heart bypass operation.
The policy may require the policyholder to survive a minimum number of days (the survival period) from when the illness was first diagnosed. The survival period used varies from company to company, however, 14 days is the most typical survival period used. In the Australian market, survival periods are set between 8 – 14 days.
Examples of other conditions that might be covered include:
- Alzheimer’s disease
- Aortic surgery
- Aplastic anaemia
- Bacterial meningitis
- Benign brain tumour
- Cancer (life-threatening)
- Coronary artery- bypass surgery
- Heart attack
- Heart valve replacement
- Kidney failure
- Loss of independent existence
- Loss of limbs
- Loss of speech
- Major organ transplant
- Major organ failure on waiting list
- Motor neuron disease
- Multiple sclerosis
- Occupational HIV infection
- Parkinson’s disease
- Severe burns
- Stroke (Cerebrovascular accident)
Works cited: Wikipedia
What is Disability Insurance?
Disability insurance, often called DI or disability income insurance, or income protection, is a form of insurance that insures the beneficiary's earned income against the risk that a disability creates a barrier for completion of core work functions. For example, the worker may suffer from an inability to maintain composure in the case of psychological disorders or suffer an injury, illness or condition that causes physical impairment or incapacity to work. DI encompasses paid sick leave, short-term disability benefits (STD), and long-term disability benefits (LTD).
Works cited: Wikipedia
How does Disability Insurance work?
- Choose the amount you want and add optional benefits to customize your coverage.
- Pay your monthly premium.
- File a claim if you become disabled.
- Receive your monthly payments when the waiting period ends. The waiting period is the number of days from the date you’re disabled until the benefit start date.
- Your payments stop when your benefit period ends or you return to work.
Works cited: Canada life
What are mutual funds?
Mutual funds are pools of money contributed by investors with similar investment goals and managed by investment professionals. Mutual funds invest in different securities depending on the investment objective of the fund. For instance, some mutual funds invest in bonds and some invest in stocks, while others invest in both bonds and stocks.
The period (or term) of the coverage can be either a fixed number of years or to a set age (e.g. age 65).
How do mutual funds work?
Mutual fund investing offers four main advantages over individual investing:
- Professional full-time investment management, to choose and monitor securities
- Diversification to reduce the risk of “putting all your eggs in one basket”
- Liquidity that allows you to buy and sell mutual funds at any time
Convenience due to the mutual fund manager keeping all records and providing regular reports on your investments and the appropriate tax forms
What are segregated funds?
A pool of investments held by the life insurance company and managed separately (i.e. segregated) from its other investments. If you buy a variable insurance contract, sometimes called a segregated fund policy, the value of your policy varies according to the market value of the assets in the segregated funds.
How do segregated funds work?
Unlike mutual funds, segregated funds are structured as an insurance product. Investing in segregated funds provides many insurance backed benefits such as:
- Maturity guarantee—upon maturity, 75% to 100% of your investment is guaranteed back to you.
- Guaranteed death benefit—your beneficiary is paid a guaranteed amount of money upon your death, even if the value of the asset, at the time of your death, is less than the guaranteed amount.
- Creditor protection—your investment may be protected from creditors.
What are annuities?
An annuity is a contract that pays a set monthly income for a set period of time. With annuities, you make a lump sum investment to an insurance company and create a stream of income for yourself in the form of monthly payments.
How do annuities work?
When you purchase an annuity you purchase a guaranteed income that allows you to:
- Receive a monthly stream of income following the purchase of the annuity, defer it for a set period of time or save it for your retirement
- Select the period of time you wish to receive the income for: a set period of time or for your lifetime
- Choose fixed or variable monthly payments, depending on your risk tolerance
The amount you receive monthly depends on how much you purchase and the interest rates. Your advisor can explain how interest rates affect your monthly payment and the different ways annuities are structured.
What is a GIC?
A GIC is an investment issued by a financial institution such as a bank or credit union. When you purchase a GIC, you are lending the financial institution money for a pre-determined period of time, and the financial institution is promising to pay you back that money plus interest at the end of the period. Financial institutions usually offer many different types of GICs, including GICs that pay a floating rate of interest, GICs that pay interest monthly, quarterly or annually (instead of at the end of the period), and even GICs that pay interest that is tied to the performance of a stock market index. In addition, while an investment in most GICs is locked in for the length of the investment period, some GICs are redeemable before maturity.
How do GICs work?
A GIC allows you to earn interest on your money for a pre-determined period of time – ranging from six months to 10 years. However, if a GIC is issued in Canadian dollars and has a term of 5 years or less it may be eligible for deposit insurance from the Canadian Deposit Insurance Corporation.
What is a Registered Retirement Savings Plan?
An RRSP is a retirement plan that is registered with the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) and that you or your spouse make contributions to. Because deductible contributions can be used to reduce your tax and because income or growth earned in the plan is usually exempt from tax while the funds remain in the plan, an RRSP acts like a tax shelter that provides you with a powerful incentive to save money for your retirement years.
How does a Registered Retirement Savings Plan work?
An RRSP is generally available to you if you have qualifying income. Once you contribute funds into an RRSP, any growth or income earned on the underlying investment will not be taxed until you withdraw that money. In addition, you can claim deductions for contributions you make to your RRSP.
You can contribute to an RRSP at any time. However, for contributions to be tax-deductible for any given year, they must be made on or before the 60th day of the next calendar year. This date typically falls on or about March 1.
Annual contributions to an RRSP are generally limited to your annual contribution limit. Unused deduction room from previous years can be carried forward. You can find your unused RRSP deduction room on your Notice of Assessment from the prior calendar year.
What is a Registered Retirement Income Fund?
A RRIF is a retirement income plan that is registered with the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) and that receives cash and qualified investments from a Registered Retirement Savings Plan (RRSP). Income and growth on investments in a RRIF are tax free. However, a prescribed minimum amount must be withdrawn from a RRIF each year and all amounts withdrawn are taxable as income in the year of withdrawal.
How does a RRIF work?
You can continue to own and maintain the tax shelter on investments in an RRSP after the RRSP matures by transferring those assets to a RRIF. This must happen no later than the end of the year in which you turn 71.
A minimum amount prescribed by the government must be withdrawn from a RRIF each year. As you age, the minimum amount increases as a percentage of the value of the RRIF.
While there is a minimum withdrawal amount, there is no limit to the amount of the withdrawal up to the value of the RRIF. Withholding tax will be held back on certain withdrawals, but do count as tax payable in the year of withdrawal.
What is a RESP?
A Registered Education Savings Plan (RESP) is a special savings account for parents who want to save for their child's education after high school.
How does a RESP work?
- A subscriber enters into an RESP contract with the promoter and names one or more beneficiaries under the plan
- The subscriber makes contributions to the RESP. Government grants (if applicable) will be paid to the RESP. These grants can be the Canada Education Savings Grant (CESG), Canada Learning Bond (CLB), or any designated provincial education savings program.
- The promoter of the RESP administers all amounts paid into the RESP. As long as the income stays in the RESP, it is not taxable. The promoter also makes sure payments from the RESP are made according to the terms of the RESP.
- The promoter can return the subscriber's contributions tax-free.
- The promoter can make payments to the beneficiary to help finance his or her post-secondary education.
- The promoter can make accumulated income payments.
Works cited: CRA
What is a TFSA?
A Tax-Free Savings Account is a flexible, general-purpose savings vehicle that allows you to make contributions each year and to withdraw funds at any time in the future.
How does a TFSA work?
A TFSA provides you with a powerful incentive to save by allowing the investment growth to accumulate and be withdrawn tax free. However, unlike an RRSP, you cannot claim a tax deduction for contributions you make to a TFSA.
Starting in 2009, all Canadian residents who are 18 years of age or older can contribute a legislated dollar maximum per year a TFSA. If you do not contribute or do not contribute the full amount, the unused amount will carry forward indefinitely.
Also, if you withdraw money from your TFSA, the amount withdrawn will be added to your contribution room in the next calendar year.
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