Wednesday, 28 March 2012

Heart Attacks and Stroke are Amongst the Leading Cause of Death in Canada and an Important Reason to Have Critical Illness Coverage

We decided to write this article to share some very sobering facts about heart attacks and stroke statistics in Canada. It’s hard to imagine planning for something like a heart attack or stroke occurring when we are young but it is a harsh reality that many many Canadians face as they age.

The Heart and Stroke Foundation tracks current statistics on heart disease and stroke in Canada and once reviewing some of the numbers you may be shocked.

Stroke is the third leading cause of death in Canada. Six percent of all deaths in Canada are caused by a stroke. Each year, nearly 14,000 Canadians die from stroke. There are over 50,000 strokes in Canada each year. That’s one stroke every 10 minutes. For every 100,000 Canadian, children under the age of 19, there are 6.7 strokes. After age 55, the risk of stroke doubles every 10 years.

About 300,000 Canadians are living with the effects of a stroke and a stroke survivor has a 20% chance of having another stroke within 2 years.

Of every 100 people who have a stroke 15 die (15%), 10 recover completely (10%), 25 recover with a minor impairment or disability (25%), 40 are left with a moderate to severe impairment (40%) and 10 are so severely disabled they require long-term care (10%). The leading cause of hospitalization in Canada continues to be heart disease and stroke, accounting for 16.9 % of total hospitalizations.

There are an estimated 70,000 heart attacks each year in Canada. That’s one heart attack every 7 minutes. Over 16,000 Canadians die each year as the result of a heart attack. Most of these deaths occur out of hospital. The number of heart attack related hospitalizations has increased steadily over the past decade (1994-95 to 2003-04). Up to 45,000 cardiac arrests occur each year in Canada. That’s one cardiac arrest every 12 minutes.

Heart failure is on the increase as a result of successes in treating heart attacks and other cardiac conditions. As people with damaged hearts are living longer, they become more susceptible to heart failure. It is estimated that there are 500,000 Canadians living with heart failure and 50,000 new patients are diagnosed each year. Depending on the severity of symptoms, heart dysfunction, age and other factors, congestive heart failure can be associated with an annual mortality of between 5% and 50%. The average annual mortality rate for congestive heart failure is 10% per year with a 50% five year survival rate. Up to 40% to 50% of people with congestive heart failure die within five years of diagnosis.

When you look at these numbers it is important to note the number of people who actually survive a heart attack or stroke and have to live the rest of their lives requiring medical treatment for disabilities that result.

This is a major reason why critical illness insurance coverage is so important. Critical illness insurance coverage protects you and offers a lump sum pay out in the event that you suffer a heart attack or stroke. It also protects people diagnosed with cancer, Alzheimer’s and a host of other serious illnesses that one can suffer and survive. It is a fairly new type of insurance coverage and one that more and more Canadians have come to realize is a necessary component of their overall insurance planning. 

For more information about heart attacks and stroke or to learn more about critical illness coverage please visit or call IFCG at 416-849-1653.

Wednesday, 21 March 2012

New CPP Rules – Do You Really Want Your Future to Depend on the Government?

Retirement planning is so important because things change overtime and there is no guarantee what type of government benefits will be available to you once you finally reach the age of retirement. The younger you are the wider that gap and planning for retirement at a younger age is less expensive and gives you more time to ensure that you are prepared and financially stable once you are ready to retire. 

Just this year some good news was reported about Canada Pension Plan benefits. As of this year, you no longer have to stop working to draw CPP. You can simultaneously receive and accrue CPP benefits between the ages of 60 and 70, which means you have increased potential to improve your retirement finances. 

Beginning January 1 of this year, you can continue to work while collecting CPP benefits. The old rules stipulating that you had to stop working to collect early CPP benefits no longer apply.

If you’re between 60 and 65, employee and employer contributions to CPP will still be required. However, if you work between the ages of 65 and 70, contributions will be optional. If you want to continue to contribute to CPP as an employee, your employer must also continue to contribute.

For residents of Quebec, similar rules apply under the Quebec Pension Plan (QPP). QPP allows for “phased” retirement between the ages of 60 and 65. To collect QPP before age 65, your estimated employment earnings for the first 12 months during which a pension is paid must not exceed $12,075 in 2011 (other conditions apply). You will continue to contribute to the plan, which will provide you with a retirement pension supplement the following year.

While the new CPP changes mean good news for people coming up to retirement, does that guarantee that CPP coverage will exist at all once 20, 30 and 40 somethings are coming up to retirement?

In recent weeks, news outlets including the London Community News reported protests that took place at MP’s offices around the province. These protest occurred because while there have been some positive reforms to CPP, the Harper Government recently announced plans to increase the retirement age from 65 to 67 and cut Old Age Security (OAS) benefits.

Because we contribute taxes to coverage’s that the government may provide today does not guarantee that they will be there tomorrow. Even when you look at the monthly income one receives on CPP and OAS now, it is barely enough to survive. The best thing a family can do is work with their insurance provider to come up with an insurance strategy that deals with both what will happen if you die but also what will happen if you end up living a long, long life. There is insurance available that can provide income, protects income, provides long term care, protects you against critical illness and more so it is very important if you want to guarantee comfort in life and in retirement that you start planning and preparing now.

For more information about the new CPP and OAS rules or to discuss your long term financial planning please call IFCG at 416-849-1653 or visit

Wednesday, 14 March 2012

Understanding Life Insurance Coverage and Why Needs Change Over Time

A recent poll from a major Canadian insurer reveals that many Canadian couples are leaving an important topic out of their conversations: life insurance. In fact, the poll found that almost a third (31%) of couples — many of them with children — had never discussed life insurance. And those under 35 were the least likely to have talked about it. 

This oversight potentially has serious implications. Not discussing insurance could mean not having any coverage, having insufficient coverage, or even having the wrong type of insurance. 

Understanding life insurance can seem overwhelming and many people don’t properly prioritize having conversations about their life insurance coverage. Why don’t couples talk about insurance? Of those who were reluctant, 59% said they had never thought about it while 35% attributed it to a lack of seriousness in their relationship. 

If you’ve never thought about it, now’s the time. Life insurance is essential to your family’s financial well-being. It ensures that your surviving partner — and children if you have them — will be financially secure. 

If you should both pass away, it ensures that your children’s guardians will have the financial resources needed to provide your children with the lifestyle you want them to have.  

And the sooner you have the conversation, the better. Understanding life insurance includes understanding that life insurance premiums are based on age and life expectancy, so the younger and healthier you are, the less you’ll pay. In addition, if you purchase permanent insurance or term insurance that’s guaranteed renewable, you can ensure you’ll have coverage even if you later develop health issues that would otherwise make you uninsurable. 

Even if you already have insurance, it’s important to revisit it at least every few years. Understanding life insurance includes understanding that your life insurance needs will change over time as your life changes. For example, you should definitely review your coverage if you undergo a significant life event, such as the birth or adoption of a child, a change in marital status, or the purchase of a home or vacation property. 

You may need to increase your coverage, decrease it, or select new beneficiaries based on your new circumstances. 

We understand how difficult it is to talk about life insurance. After all, it means considering the consequences if you or your partner were to pass away. But the death of a family member is difficult enough to manage without having to face the prospect of financial hardship or a major change in lifestyle. 

Sitting down with an objective, knowledgeable third party can give you a chance to discuss some of your goals, and help ensure that your overall financial strategy is a joint effort that suits both your needs, as well as those of your children. 

Then you’ll have the peace of mind of knowing that, in the case of a negative life event, there’s better financial security in your family’s future.  

For more information about understanding life insurance please call IFCG at 416-849-1653 or visit

Wednesday, 7 March 2012

Mortgage Insurance VS. Life Insurance – What’s the Difference

Buying a home is an exciting time. When you make a decision to buy a home there are so many things to get organized; from moving plans, to mortgage financing, to insurance and more.

When you approach your bank or local mortgage broker to arrange your mortgage financing they will often offer you mortgage insurance. Not to be confused with CMHC mortgage insurance which protects your bank if you default, the insurance we are talking about deals with the insurance that will protect your spouse or loved one if you die.

Mortgage insurance, which is also referred to as mortgage protection is offered by many different companies in many different forms. Mortgage insurance is essentially life insurance; however your benefits will depend on where you obtain the mortgage insurance.

Mortgage insurance offered through a mortgage broker or bank often protects the mortgage lender. The mortgage lender is listed as the beneficiary on the policy, and the policy will provide that in the event you pass away whatever the balance of the mortgage you have with your bank will be paid off in full.

One issue with this is that when you obtain this type of policy the amount of your insurance payment remains the same as long as you have it but your mortgage balance will go down over time. This is one major reason why many folks opt to obtain a life insurance policy to protect their mortgage as opposed to this type of “creditor” mortgage insurance that protects the creditor.

If you obtain a term life insurance policy to protect your loved one in the event that something were to happen to you, the two main things that would differ from the above mentioned mortgage insurance is:

1.       Your loved one would be listed as the beneficiary, not the bank.

2.       The amount of insurance coverage you obtain would remain the same for the term of the policy.
Let’s explore the second benefit to buying life insurance to protect your mortgage a little bit closer. If you were purchasing a home and your mortgage was going to be $250,000 for example, so you purchased $250,000 in term life insurance coverage at a payment of $30 per/mo., in 10 years the coverage would still be $250,000. If something happened to you, your beneficiary would receive a payout in the amount of $250,000.

Had you purchased mortgage insurance from the bank that listed the bank as the beneficiary to pay off the mortgage in the event of death and started with a mortgage balance of $250,000, after 10 years if you passed away your mortgage balance may only be $180,000 and so the bank would receive $180,000.

This is why having a relationship with a good insurance broker is important. An insurance broker that works with all the insurance providers can review the different types of insurance available with you and help you make the best informed decision to protect you and your family.

For more information about mortgage insurance vs. life insurance please call IFCG at 416-849-1653 or visit