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Filing a Life Insurance Claim: HowTo and Tips
Bank Mortgage Insurance vs Term Life Insurance
Mortage Insurance from Banks
Canadian Real Estate Market on the Rise
Homeowner Financial Assistance
Understanding Your Mortgage
Keeping Your Life Insurance Coverage
Mortgage Regulations in Canada
Using Your RRSP Savings to Buy a Home
Toronto Faces New Land Transfer Tax
Buying Real Estate In Canada
Becoming "Later In Life" Parents
Group Life Insurance: Is It Enough?
Financial Planning And Re-Marriage
Life Insurance For "Non-Working" Spouses
Health And Wellness Programs
Right Time to Buy Life Insurance?
Qutting Smoking and Life Insurance Rates
Basic Life Insurance "Housekeeping" Tips
Life Insurance Rate Classifications (Canadian)
Dropping Term Life Insurance Rates
Term Life Instead of Bank Mortgage Insurance Blog is Launched


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# Monday, January 20, 2014
Monday, January 20, 2014 4:35:39 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00) ( General Life | Mortgage Insurance | Term Life | Whole Life )
Please use this article as a guide to making a Canadian life insurance claim. How to make a claim is outlined and there are also tips to help you avoid processing issues. In addition we list possible sources of life insurance policies that could be overlooked.
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# Wednesday, June 20, 2012
Wednesday, June 20, 2012 5:01:39 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00) ( Finance | Mortgage Insurance | Term Life )
Buying a home is a one of the biggest financial commitments people make during their lifetime. This is especially true these days, with real estate prices being so high compared to our parent’s generation. Protecting your financial investment in a new home is very important. What would happen if you (as the mortgage holder) were to pass away due to an accident or a fatal disease? Will your home be fully paid off, leaving your spouse and/or children with an inheritance?
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# Thursday, September 09, 2010
Thursday, September 09, 2010 1:46:41 AM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00) ( Mortgage Insurance | Term Life )
Life insurance has always been an important part of a financial plan for Canadians. Some Canadian life insurance companies have been around since the late 1800 and 99.9% have never failed to pay a claim. Life insurance pays upon ...
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# Tuesday, December 01, 2009
Tuesday, December 01, 2009 8:03:30 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00) ( Mortgage Insurance )
Despite the current uncertainty in the Canadian and global economy, the Canadian Real Estate Association claims that residential house sales in Canada actually reached the highest level ever for the month of October 2009. As well, the average sale price was up by over 20% from October 2008. This increase in residential house sales is being credited to low interest rates. Currently the average mortgage rate is 4.55, which is a decline from 5.41 which was the average for 2008. As well, consumer confidence is also being credited for the increase in residential home sales.

Out of all the provinces, British Columbia had the highest monthly gain in residential real estate sales; B.C. also had the most dramatic decline in sales last year. British Columbia has traditionally always had the highest real estate prices as well as the highest average mortgages. Vancouver's sales have risen to 117% over the past year. The Canadian Real Estate Association is now forecasting national activity in residential home sales will reach over 460,000 units in 2009 which is an increase of 6.6% from last year. The national MLS home price average is forecast to climb 4.2% in 2009; this will reach a record of $317,900.

This is the first time that residential home sales have increased in price since the spring of 2008. This means that purchasing a home may now be less affordable for Canadians, according to a new study by the RBC Housing Affordability survey. This survey measures the proportion of pre-tax household income needed in order to cover all the necessary costs of home ownership. This measure rose for all housing types in the third quarter, with standard bungalows and two storey homes seeing the biggest gain.  Demand for housing has now outstripped supply since the recovery in real estate sales began last winter.

For those Canadians who want to take advantage of the low mortgage rates to buy a home, mortgage insurance coverage must also be considered. Most lending institutions require mandatory mortgage insurance. However, mortgage insurance does not have to be obtained through the lending institution, although almost all do offer this coverage. Term life insurance in an amount that covers the mortgage can be a better alternative to bank mortgage insurance. Term life also offers several advantages that bank mortgage insurance does not. Term life insurance offers the homebuyer the advantage of naming the beneficiary of the policy. When purchased through a lending institution, the mortgage insurance policy names the bank as the beneficiary. When using term life insurance the policy is owned by the homebuyer, not the bank.

Another advantage to using term life to insure a mortgage is the option of purchasing a policy that can be converted into whole life insurance upon completion of the term. This allows the homebuyer to buy a term life policy when they are in good health, and the rates are less expensive. Some convertible policies will not require any additional medical information, but will be based on the original health status.

When shopping for a home, and mortgage, consult with your insurance broker about using term life insurance to insure the mortgage and explore all the options. Many times term life insurance is also cheaper than the coverage offered by the bank. For more information on using term life insurance, please visit our mortgage insurance page.

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# Monday, August 24, 2009
Monday, August 24, 2009 8:35:48 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00) ( Mortgage Insurance )
The Government of Canada announced in September 2008 that $1.9 billion dollars, over 5 years, would be made available for housing and homelessness programs for low-income Canadians. As part of this initiative, the renovations programs were extended for an additional 2 years, up until March 31, 2011. These programs are available to Canadian seniors, those with disabilities, as well as low-income households; most are delivered by the Provinces and Territories.

The Home Adaptations for Seniors' Independence (HASI) offers financial assistance for seniors who require minor home adaptations that will allow low-income seniors to remain living independently and safely. Eligible adaptations are minor items that are related to loss of ability and daily activities. In order to be eligible these adaptations must:

•    Be permanently installed/fixed to the dwelling;
•    Improve the access to basic facilities in the dwelling;
•    Increases the physical safety for the affected resident, i.e. handrails, easy-to-reach work/storage areas in the kitchen, grab bars in the bathroom, etc.

Either the homeowner or the landlord can apply for this assistance if:                                     

•    The occupant of the residence if at least 65 years of age and is experiencing difficulties with activities that are related to daily living that is brought on either by illness or advancing age;
•    The total household income is or below the program income limit for that specific area;
•    The home is a permanent residence.

Financial assistance for this program is available via a forgivable loan with a maximum of $3500. This loan will not be required to be repaid as long as the homeowner agrees to continue residing there for a minimum of 6 months (the loan forgiveness period). In the case of rental properties, the landlord must agree to not increase the rent of the property as a result of the new adaptations.

For Canadians with disabilities, financial assistance is available through the Residential Rehabilitation Assistance Program for Persons with Disabilities (RRAP – Disabilities). This program is designed to help homeowners/landlords to make modifications to the property that will make the property more accessible to persons with disabilities, i.e. eliminate physical barriers and safety risks. Modifications must be related to housing as well as the occupant's disability, i.e. handrails, chair lifts, bath lifts, etc. All work to bring the home up to minimum health and safety standards must be completed in order to be eligible; if this amount exceeds the maximum forgivable loan then the owner must assume the additional costs.

Homeowners and/or landlords may qualify for this program as long as the property is:

•    Already occupied, or will be occupied, by a low-income person with a disability;
•    Is owned and has a value below a certain amount;
•    If a rental property, the rent is less than the established levels for that specific area;
•    Meets minimum health and safety standards.

Assistance for this program is in the form of a forgivable loan and will not have to be repaid as long as the terms and conditions of the program are followed. Homeowners must agree to continue to own the home for as long as the loan forgiveness period (up to 5 years.) Landlords must agree to an established rent that can be charged during the lifetime of the agreement as well as an occupancy restriction to a household with an income that is below a set CMHC level.

This program is set into 3 different geographical zones for Canada; loan amounts vary depending on the region:

Zone 1: Includes the southern areas of Canada; homeowners can receive a loan of up to $16,000, landlords up to $24,000.

Zone 2: Includes the northern areas of Canada; homeowners can receive a loan of up to $19,000, landlords up to $28,000.

Zone 3: Includes the far northern areas of Canada; homeowners can receive a loan of up to $24,000, landlords up to $36,000.

As well, areas that have been defined as remote may be eligible for additional assistance.

For additional information on these, as well as other programs, visit the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation.
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# Tuesday, June 02, 2009
Tuesday, June 02, 2009 2:52:41 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00) ( Mortgage Insurance )
For most Canadians, their mortgage is not only their biggest asset, but also their biggest liability. Therefore, it is imperative to understand all the financial jargon associated with your mortgage in order to make the best financial decisions possible. How you finance your home as well as the home-buying process can have a major impact on your financial well-being and future, especially in an era where certain financial products are no longer being offered and new products available. This rings true especially for first-time home buyers.

Understanding the 'financial language' can help Canadians choose the best mortgage option which fits in with their financial planning strategy. In order to help those who are planning on buying a home, we have provided a list of the most common terms, along with a synopsis of their meaning.

•    Amortization: refers to the period of time that the entire mortgage is to be paid; this is calculated with the assumption of regular payments.
•    Appraisal: Whereby a qualified person makes an independent assessment of the property worth.
•    Assuming a mortgage: The taking over of a previous owner's mortgage when the property is purchased.
•    Buy down rate: The portion of the interest rate on a buyer's mortgage that is assumed when your house is bought. If the home buyer doesn’t like the interest rate on their mortgage, the seller can offer to add a percentage of it onto their existing mortgage.
•    Capped rate: Usually associated with a variable-rate mortgage, this is an interest rate that has a pre-determined ceiling.
•    Closed mortgage: This type of mortgage cannot be prepaid, renegotiated and/or refinanced prior to maturity, unless specifically stated in the mortgage terms.
•    Closing costs: These costs are not included in the purchase price of the home and must be paid on the closing date, i.e. land transfer taxes, legal fees.
•    Closing date: The date upon which the sale of the home becomes final, with the new owner assuming possession of the home and the funds are transferred to the seller.
•    Conventional mortgage: Where the borrower contributes more than 20% of the property value as a down payment.
•    Convertible mortgage: This type of mortgage can be changed from short-term to long-term.
•    Debt service ratio: This is the percentage of the borrower's income that is used for the monthly payments of the principle, interest, taxes, heating costs as well as condo fees.
•    Default: Whereby the borrower breaks the terms of the mortgage agreement by either not making the payments and/or by late payments.
•    Down payment: Usually consists of 5-20% of the home value that the purchaser pays up-front.
•    Equity: The amount that a homeowner actually owns outright; it is calculated by the difference between the market value of the home and the amount owing.
•    High ratio mortgage: Where the borrower has contributed less than 20% of the property value for the down payment.
•    Home inspection: Whereby a qualified person performs a visual inspection of the home and makes a report of the true condition of the property.
•    Home insurance: Differs from mortgage life insurance, this is used to insurance not only the actual home, but its contents.
•    Interest adjustment: This is the amount of interest due between the date the mortgage starts and the date of the first mortgage payment.
•    Land transfer tax: This tax may be applicable on a land transfer depending on the province.
•    Legal fees/disbursements: Monies spent on such services like a real estate lawyer that are associated with the buying of a home.
•    Lump sum payment: This refers to an extra payment that is made in order to reduce the mortgage amount.
•    Mortgage broker: An individual/company who does not actually lend money, but rather acts on your behalf to find a lender as well as arrange the terms of the mortgage.
•    Mortgage default insurance: Type of insurance that is required for home buyers that have contributed between 5-20% of the home value as their down payment.
•    Mortgage life insurance: This insures the mortgage and pays it off in full should the mortgage holder die. Term life insurance can be used for this purpose as well, and offers several advantages.
•    Mortgage rate: This is the percentage of interest the home buyer pays on top of the loan principal.
•    Mortgage term: This refers to the length of time that the interest rate is guaranteed for the mortgage.
•    MLS listings: Computer websites/lists available to consumers that show listings of available homes within your region.
•    Offer to purchase/conditional offer: The written contract containing any stipulations and/or conditions upon which the buyer agrees to purchase the home.
•    Open mortgage: This type of mortgage can be paid off, renewed, and/or refinanced at any point in the mortgage. This type of mortgage usually has a higher interest rate.
•    Porting/Portable mortgage:
The transfer of an existing mortgage from one home to a new home.
•    Pre-approved mortgage certificate:approved mortgage certificate A written agreement the home buyer can obtain before buying a home stating the amount of the mortgage as well as the interest rates that the buyer is approved for.
•    Pre-paid property tax/utility adjustments: The amount owed to the seller if they have already paid these items.
•    Pre-payment: Paying part of the mortgage ahead of schedule; depending on the mortgage terms, this may incur a penalty.
•    Property survey: A survey that contains the legal description of the property; this is usually required by the mortgage lender.
•    Refinancing: This refers to the homeowner increasing the amount of their current mortgage at a new interest rate.
•    Renewal: The option of renewing the mortgage once the original term has expired.
•    Sales tax: The taxes that are applied to the purchase price of the home; this varies depending on the province as well as the type of home bought (i.e. resale property, newly built).
•    Variable rate mortgage: The interest rate on this type of mortgage varies with the market and changes every month.

Canadians home buyers should always do their own research when it comes to mortgages as well as consult with professionals. Having a deeper understanding of what is entailed in the mortgage process can enable the home buyer to make a financial choice that saves them money, as well as suits their needs. To learn more about using term life insurance to insure a mortgage, please visit our page that specifically addresses this issue.

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# Wednesday, March 04, 2009
Wednesday, March 04, 2009 4:43:38 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00) ( General Life | Mortgage Insurance | Term Life | Whole Life )

As the economy is still dramatically fluctuating, people are now looking at ways to save money. It has been confirmed that the last three months of 2008 Canada did indeed experience a recession, and continues to do so. However, it is important for Canadians to ensure that short-term savings do not impact long-term financial goals and protection.

Some people may find it tempting to cancel their life insurance coverage in order to save on paying the premiums. This 'solution' however can lead to financial consequences later on. Should your health status change, you may find that in the future premiums will be more expensive, and can potentially cost more than what was initially saved; especially for those who purchased their coverage when they had excellent health status.

Financial protection, especially in regards to the wage-earners in the family are even more essential now. Should an unexpected death occur, it is important to have coverage in order to cover not only the funeral expenses, but to make sure that the family has enough money for living expenses, paying off debt, etc. For families with children, the remaining parent may want to take an extended leave from their employment, as well as have the financial resources to pay for additional expenses such as childcare, nanny, etc.

Health insurance is also a wise financial move at the current time. Sudden expenses, i.e. prescription medications, can quickly add up. This total amount per month can easily exceed your premiums, especially with the high prescription costs in some provinces. This coverage is also contingent on health status as well; should a health problem occur you may not be entitled to the same premiums as you once were should you cancel your existing coverage.

For Canadians who insure their mortgage through the lender, consider using term life insurance instead. Choose a term life policy that is compatible with the amount of time that is owed on your mortgage. Not only is this generally a less costly expense, but it offers added benefits. Most mortgage insurance policies only cover the existing balance that is owed; a term life policy retains its full value throughout the duration. Term life also gives the financial control to the policy owner; mortgage insurance is only used to pay off the mortgage should the mortgagee die. Term life offers the beneficiary full control of the money; this can be used to pay off the mortgage, pay off other debts, etc. Especially at a time of need, this flexibility can be essential. There is term life policies that can be converted into whole life insurance once the term has expired, thereby giving the policy holder continuing protection. Many of these policies do not require a new medical questionnaire to be filled out; therefore the rates will be consistent with the health status provided originally. This can be a great way to not only save money at the present time, but also in the future when the rates will possibly be higher.

Go through your monthly budget carefully when decided when and/or where to economize. Any items that are essential to your financial security and well-being should not be cut from your budget if at all possible; try and find other ways to save money. This can include not spending as much on items such as entertainment, clothing, vacations, etc. which, while possible causing inconvenience, will not impact your long-term goals.

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# Wednesday, June 25, 2008
Wednesday, June 25, 2008 7:05:05 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00) ( Mortgage Insurance )

Most Canadians throughout the country will at some point in their life will apply for a mortgage. As with any other financial transactions, it is a good idea to do your homework and understand the complexities of your mortgage. Having a solid understanding of your finances as well as the different mortgage products available can help you make the best choice. Your mortgage will probably be the most important debt of your lifetime; making a well informed decision will benefit you for years to come.

You must determine how much you are able to afford to spend when buying a home. This includes not only the purchase price of the home, but all of your other financial obligations. Do not assume that the maximum amount you are pre-approved for is an amount you can actually afford. Figure out what your monthly expenses are, including car payments, insurance, groceries, cable, telephone, etc. You may want to track these expenses for a few months in order to get an accurate total of your monthly expenditures. It's also a good idea to set aside money for emergencies, i.e. car repairs, house maintenance, etc. Subtracting the amount of the monthly expenses (including savings) from your monthly income will give you an estimate of how much you can afford for a mortgage payment. The general rule is to not exceed 32% of your gross monthly income for housing costs, and no more than 40% on monthly debt payments.

Once you've decided on the amount you can afford, you will need to shop around for a lender. Banks, mortgage companies, insurance companies, trust and loan companies as well as credit unions can all offer mortgages. Different companies will offer different prices as well as conditions; talk to several different lenders, as well as types of lenders in order to get the best product for your specific needs. You may also want to consider using a mortgage broker. A mortgage broker does not directly lend money, but rather finds a lender best suited for your needs. Because mortgage brokers have access to a wide range of lenders you will usually have more choices regarding products and terms. If you choose to use a mortgage broker, remember that not all brokers have the same access to financial institutions so you may want to consider consulting with more than one broker.

When shopping for a mortgage, obtain the information you will need in order to compare products. In Canada it is federally regulated that all banks, insurance companies and trust and loan companies must provide you with the following information before you sign a mortgage agreement. If you are shopping for a fixed-rate mortgage you must be provided with:

• The amount being lent
• The term of the loan as well as the amortization period
• Total amount of payments at the end of the term, as well as how much of that total you will have paid in interest
• Annual interest rate, including the real annual percentage rate which includes any and all extra charges (APR)
• The actual date on which interest will begin to be charged
• The amount of the payment and the due date
• If your payments are first applied to cover the interest and other applicable charges, and then to the outstanding principal
• Any optional services, i.e. disability or life insurance, that you have accepted, as well as the cost and the penalties, rebates and/or charges that will be applied if you decide later to cancel these services
• Any default charges that will be applied if your mortgage is in default
• Description of any property that is being provided as security for the loan
• Any broker fees that are paid by the lender to a broker that are included in the amount being lent
• The fee you will have to pay to discharge the mortgage after it has been paid off
• Any other charges that may apply, including the type of charge and the amount

If you are applying for a variable-rate mortgage you must be provided with:

• The annual interest rate of your mortgage as of the date of the disclosure statement
• How and when the annual interest rate is calculated
• How much your payments are based on the annual interest rate
• What your total payments will be at the end of the term based on the annual interest rate
• If the interest rate variations are linked to a public index you must be provided at least once a year with a disclosure statement that contains the annual interest rate and outstanding balance and the beginning and end of the period covered by the statement. You must also be provided with the amount of each payment and when it is due based on the annual interest rate that is applied at the end of the period

If you are applying for a variable-rate mortgage and the amount of your payment is not automatically adjusted to reflect changes in the annual interest rate you must also be provided with:

• The annual interest rate above which your payments will not be sufficient to cover the interest due on your loan for the period
• You must be made aware that negative amortization can happen. This occurs when your outstanding balance increases even when payments are made in full

Federal law also prohibits the financial institution from unduly pressuring you to buy their other products as a condition for accepting your mortgage application. For instance, the institution cannot deny your mortgage application because you choose not to buy your mortgage life insurance from them. You have the right to shop around for not only your mortgage, but for any other financial products that you may need for your new home. It's wise to always compare different products from different institutions, lenders and/or brokers in order to assemble the best package for your personal needs.


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# Wednesday, March 19, 2008
Wednesday, March 19, 2008 5:55:39 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00) ( Mortgage Insurance )

Canadians who have RRSPs have the opportunity to withdraw up to twenty thousand dollars tax free to use as a down payment on a home. This money also does not have to be claimed as income on your tax return. This is a great opportunity for those who wish to be homeowners, but cannot afford to save for the down payment and contribute to their retirement savings.

The Federal Home Buyers Plan is available to those who qualify as "first time" homebuyers. This is defined as any Canadian who has not owned a home that they have occupied as their principal residence for a minimum of five years. You can qualify for the program at any time during the fifth calendar year since owning a home. This rule applies to both you and your spouse regarding previous home ownership. If you have owned a home within the previous five years, but your partner has not, then while you are not eligible, your partner will be. However, if you are using the homebuyers plan again, you must not have an outstanding balance on the previous Home Buyer Plan loan.

There are certain criteria that must be met in order to qualify for the HMP plan.  You must be considered a factual resident of Canada, meaning that even if you are not currently living in Canada, you are considered a Canadian resident for income tax purposes. You must also enter into a written agreement (offer of purchase) to buy or build a qualifying home. This agreement can be with the builder, contractor, realtor or private seller. It is important to know that simply obtaining a pre-approved mortgage does not satisfy this requirement. You must also intend to occupy the home as your principal place of residence within one year of buying or building your home. Certain exceptions can be made if you are unable to reside in the home, as long as your original intention was to move in within a year. As well, either you or your spouse (this includes common law spouses) cannot own the home more than 30 days before the planned withdrawal.

You must make the withdrawal request for the funds in the same year in which you wish to participate in the Home Buyers Plan. Each person (if applicable) can withdraw a maximum of twenty thousand dollars from your own RRSPs. Multiple withdrawals however, are allowed. The home that you are buying must be located in Canada, and can be either an existing home or a home under construction. This includes single detached family home, semi-detached homes, town home, mobile home, condominium unit, a share in a co-op, or an apartment.

You must begin repaying the withdrawal under the HBP starting the second year following the year in which you made the withdrawal. You make the repayments by contributing to any of your RRSPs in the year the repayment is due or within the first 60 days of the following year. However, you cannot designate sums to be considered s payments to your spouse’s (including common-law) RRSP are not considered payments, and vice-versa. As well, transferring amounts from another registered pension plan, deferred profit-sharing plan or registered retirement income fund will not be considered as a payment.

Comments [0] | | # 
# Tuesday, October 30, 2007
Tuesday, October 30, 2007 5:55:30 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00) ( Mortgage Insurance | Term Life )

People buying a home in Toronto in 2008 will have to pay a land transfer tax levied by the city. This municipal tax is in addition to the provincial land transfer tax already in place. First time home buyers will be exempt from this tax on the first $400,000 of their property purchase. This tax is paid through your lawyer as part of the closing costs.

This new tax will not be applicable to people who have a Purchase and Sale agreement on or before December 31, 2007, regardless of the actual closing date. As well, home buyers who have a Purchase and Sale agreement signed after December 31, 2007 but with a closing date before February 1, 2008 will be exempt from the tax. For those who have a Purchase and Sale agreement signed after December 31, 2007 with a closing on or after February 1, 2008, you will be required to pay the full Toronto Land Transfer Tax.

The amount you will pay depends on the value of the home you are purchasing. The Toronto Land Transfer Tax has been broken down to these percentages:

• Homes valued up to and including $55,000 will pay one-half of one percent of the purchase price
• Homes valued over $55,000 up to and including $400,000 will pay one percent of the purchase price
• Land containing one and/or two single family residences exceeding $400,000 will pay two percent of the purchase price
• Commercial properties, including multi-residential units exceeding $400,000 up to $40 million will pay one and a half percent of the purchase price
• Anything over $40 million will pay one percent of the purchase price

This new tax poses an additional financial burden on people in Toronto who are planning on buying a home in the new year. One way to save money when buying your new home is to use term life insurance instead of the mortgage insurance offered by the lending institutution. A term life policy in an amount that covers your mortgage can be significantly cheaper. As well, the value of a term life policy never decreases; mortgage insurance usually only covers the existing balance owing, not the original value. A term life policy also gives the homeowner an extra advantage by giving him/her the power to name the beneficiary. This allows the beneficiary to decide how best to spend the money should something happen. Consult with your broker about this option before committing to mortgage insurance.

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# Friday, March 23, 2007
Friday, March 23, 2007 8:07:24 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00) ( Mortgage Insurance )

Tips On How To Successfully Purchase Your New Home


With interest rates among the lowest in decades, and the availability of many different housing options, purchasing a home in Canada may be cheaper than renting. The current real estate market is very favorable to buyers, and financing options are available to accommodate those who are self-employed or who do not have perfect credit. A mortgage may actually cost less than monthly rent payments, and, unlike rent, is an investment that provides the owner with equity.


Whether you're a first time home buyer or not, purchasing real estate is a big decision. Many things need to be considered, from which neighborhood you wish to buy your new home, to which financing options suit your needs best. However, with an organized house buying plan, your real estate experience need not be as complicated as you might think.

Here are some steps to help you in your real estate purchase.


1. Before looking at houses, you should first get your financing in place and determine how much you can afford to spend. It is important to evaluate your current expenses and debt, and decide how much of your budget you can comfortably spend without leaving you financially over burdened. Getting pre-approved for a mortgage will allow you to know beforehand how much a lender is willing to approve you for. This will allow you to have a clear price range of what you can afford to buy, and save you time.


2. Determine what your requirements are for your new home.. It is important to remember that your new home must not only fit your present needs, but also future ones, i.e. whether you are going to be starting a family or having more children. You also need to choose what area(s) are suitable and also meet your financing. These decisions will help you narrow down your search, and eliminate looking at homes that don’t suit your needs.


3. Decide on whether or not you plan on using a realtor. If you do decide to use a real estate agent, ensure that it is someone who you are comfortable with and who understands your needs. Many realtors have their own websites with current listings, so you can browse the internet to find available properties, as well as researching your agent.


4. Use a scorecard when comparing the homes you have looked at. This will help you to remember each homes features, for later comparison.


5. Familiarize yourself with the home inspection process. By learning about home inspection, you can quickly determine which homes are unacceptable, and thus not waste time looking at unsuitable properties.


Banks and financial lending institutions will most often require some type of mortgage insurance before they approve your mortgage application. While many banks offer creditor insurance, term life insurance is also an option for obtaining coverage. Term life insurance actually has many advantages compared to bank insurance. With term life coverage, you choose the beneficiary of the policy, and are the owner of the policy, instead of the lending institution. This allows your beneficiary to use the proceeds of your policy as best suited, either paying all, part or none of the mortgage. This financial flexibility allows the beneficiary more financial options. Bank mortgage insurance names the bank as the beneficiary, with the proceeds going directly to the lending institution.


Most term life policies can be converted to permanent life insurance once the term has been completed. Renewable and convertible plans can be converted without any further medical questions. A term life policy will usually require a medical questionnaire to be completed by your doctor, prior to approval of your coverage. Your bank may require you to provide additional medical questionnaires in order to re-qualify with new rates.


Bank mortgage insurance only covers the amount of your outstanding loan. As the amount of your mortgage decreases, so does your benefit. Term life coverage remains the same throughout the duration of your term. Most policies will allow you to purchase additional coverage, which provides you with more options as your needs change. It is important to realize that with bank mortgage insurance, your coverage will be terminated when the mortgage is paid off. A term life policy covers you for the entire term, regardless of status of the mortgage.


When applying for a mortgage, research all your insurance options. Consider not only insuring the amount of your mortgage, but all your other life insurance needs. It may be cheaper and easier just to purchase one term life policy, which can later on be converted to a permanent policy, which will provide you with estate planning and taxation options as well.

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# Tuesday, February 13, 2007
Tuesday, February 13, 2007 3:26:17 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00) ( General Life | Mortgage Insurance | Term Life | Whole Life )

Life Insurance Needs For Older Parents

In the past 25 years, there has been a growing trend to postpone parenthood until later in life. Many Canadians are choosing to focus on career, financial security, and other pursuits, before starting to raise a family.

For those who wait until later in life to start a family, certain financial considerations must be made.  The time a couple may wish to retire may also coincide with major expenses such as higher education, weddings, etc. Careful consideration must be given in order to ensure that not only the needs of the child(ren) are met, but also reflect the parents' retirement plans. It is therefore important to review your life insurance policy with these goals in mind.

Parents who have children later in life also need to consider the fact that health concerns may change as they get older. As well as sufficient health insurance coverage, older parents may wish to purchase disability insurance in order to provide for their family in case of prolonged illness. Disability insurance provides protection against serious illness or accident, and provides a monthly benefit when you are unable to work.

Having children later in life does not necessarily mean putting off retirement. With careful financial planning, both goals can be realized. With permanent life insurance you can achieve your retirement goals via the estate planning and wealth transfer options.
We recommend that you consult with your insurance broker to see if your current life insurance policy reflects your goals, and is adequate to provide for these needs.

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# Tuesday, October 17, 2006
Tuesday, October 17, 2006 4:07:29 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00) ( General Life | Mortgage Insurance | Term Life | Whole Life )

Employee Benefits and Life Insurance

Along with group health insurance, group life insurance is a common benefit that you may receive from your employer. However, it is important to thoroughly investigate whether this coverage is going to be sufficient for your life insurance needs.  If the coverage that is being offered is based only on your salary, it probably will not be enough to provide complete financial protection for your beneficiaries.

Since the group coverage offered through your employer is free, it makes sense to accept it. However, it is important to calculate how much coverage you will need to have in order to sufficiently pay your existing debts and provide for your family. Group life insurance is usually calculated based on your annual salary, usually around 1.5 percent. Read through your policy to fully understand just what your coverage will be. If this amount is not enough, you will need to purchase additional coverage.

Additional coverage can be purchased either in the form of term life insurance or whole life insurance. Term life insurance, while usually cheaper, expires at the end of a certain time frame, and has no cash value. This is a good policy to buy if you need insurance for a specific debt, such as a mortgage. Whole life insurance does not have a time frame, and as long as the premiums are paid, will never expire. Whole life insurance also has a cash value, which can be useful in planning your finances.

Talk to your agent about your group life insurance policy, and whether or not it is providing enough coverage for your needs. You can always purchase additional coverage to top up the group policy, and thereby ensure that your family and loved ones will be provided for. If you are unsure about the amount of life insurance you require, use our calculator to determine your needs.

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# Wednesday, September 13, 2006
Wednesday, September 13, 2006 7:30:07 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00) ( General Life | Mortgage Insurance | Term Life | Whole Life )

Financial Planning And Re-Marriage

Financial planning for your family can be difficult. However, when one or both spouses are entering their second marriage, finances can be a sensitive subject, especially when there are children from the first marriage involved. Decisions need to be made about what finances are to be held separately by each partner, what will be owned jointly by the couple, and what provisions are made for each partner's child(ren) from the first marriage.

One of the differences between first and second marriages is the accumulation of assets. When couples are young and just starting out, it is usually beneficial to pool financial resources. However, people getting re-married may have more assets, and therefore may need to make arrangements in order to determine who is entitled to those assets.

Wills also become a topic of concern. Partners may want to leave certain assets to their children from the first marriage, and not to the second spouse. Also, the beneficiaries of life insurance policies should also be addressed. You may want to purchase another policy for your spouse, while leaving the original policy for your children.

Although this can be a tricky topic, honest communication with both partners and the children (providing they are old enough to take part) is the key. Financial obligations from the first marriage may precipitate the new couple keeping some money separate. For instance, alimony and/or child support payments may not necessarily have to be a joint financial obligation. Another issue that needs to be addressed is any and all outstanding debt incurred before the second marriage. The partners in the second marriage need to be honest about what financial obligations of their new partner they are willing to assume.

Assets are another factor in the financial planning process. If the home is owned by one partner, but being used as the family home, decisions need to be made about who will be left the family home in the event of the owner’s death. If the family home is to be left to the owner's children, then plans and funds must be made available for the remaining spouse to be able to relocate. If both people own homes, and use one as the family residence, then plans must be made for the proceeds of the sale of the second home.

There is no set formula for these issues. Individuals entering into their second marriage must resolve these issues in the format best suited for their needs. It is important to realize that these issues need to be addressed, and to make sure that all parties involved come to an understanding of their new financial obligations, as well as making sure everyone is adequately provided for.

The old rural Canadian adage,  "If you leave your farm to your son, what of equal value can you leave for your daughter?" is taking on a whole new set of complications. The solution can still be very much the same: purchase life insurance.

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# Wednesday, August 23, 2006
Wednesday, August 23, 2006 5:32:31 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00) ( General Life | Mortgage Insurance | Term Life | Whole Life )

Life Insurance For "Non-Working" Spouses

Generally, when people think of life insurance, they think of insuring the potential income that will be lost when that individual passes away. However, serious consideration must be given to not only to lost income, but the amount of money it will cost to maintain the household when one member dies.

A stay at home parent can be overlooked in terms of financial planning. While technically there is no loss of income, there will be a significant increase in expenses if the caregiver should suddenly die. Therefore, we highly recommend that both parents carry life insurance, not only to protect the family assets, but also to ensure that it is financially possible for the surviving parent to provide quality care for the children.

In planning for the amount of insurance for the stay at home parent, ask yourself (and your spouse) these questions:

  • How long would I plan to take a leave of absence from work in order to make the transition smoother for my children?
  • What kind of care would be best for my children? A nanny, housekeeper, daycare? Remember that these needs will change as your children get older, so this issue needs to be revisited every few years.
  • Have we made the appropriate arrangements to ensure quality education for our children?

Talk to your spouse about how best to care for your children in the event of the death of the stay at home parent. Your insurance agent is a great resource in helping determine the amount of life insurance you will need in order to meet your projected needs. It is a good idea to remember that as the cost of living goes up, you should re-evaluate your needs every few years to make sure that you will be insured in the amount necessary to allow for the best care possible. Consider using our online insurance calculator to see how much term life insurance is required to cover your needs.

NOTE: Blue Vision from Ontario Blue Cross offers disability insurance to stay-at-home spouses. Contact us for more information.

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# Tuesday, July 18, 2006
Tuesday, July 18, 2006 5:22:56 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00) ( General Life | Mortgage Insurance | Term Life | Whole Life )

Health And Wellness Programs

Life insurance is more than just a policy to cover you in times of death. Your insurance carrier wants you to be healthy, happy and productive. This is why most carriers are offering health and wellness programs, aimed at educating and supporting their clients in maintaining healthy lifestyles.

Health and wellness programs are designed to educate both employers and employees. Studies show that employers who take an active interest in their employees health and well-being have reduced employee absenteeism by a significant number. Employers who implement programs to promote healthy lifestyles and stress reduction have happier employees with less "burn out" rates and increased productivity.

Standard Life offers a useful health calculator, as well as tips for a healthier lifestyle and diet. The calculator can help you determine whether you are eating a balanced diet, getting enough exercise, and offers help to prevent major health problems. It offers links to other websites that are helpful in education of such health issues as cancer, diabetes and heart disease, as well as mental health concerns.

Talk to your employer about health wellness programs, and ask what programs are available for you and your co-workers. Remember, your health is important not only to you but to your employer and your insurance carrier. Take advantage of these programs to ensure your health for years to come.

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# Tuesday, June 27, 2006
Tuesday, June 27, 2006 7:55:21 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00) ( General Life | Mortgage Insurance | Term Life | Whole Life )

No, You're Not Too Young

Life insurance is not a topic that people want to think about. Everyone would ideally like to put off this issue for "another year", "when I’m older and need it", or "when I get around to it."

However, purthe ideal time to purchase coverage is when you are young and healthy. Rates will be higher if you purchase your policy after health issues arise.  Policy rates tend to get more expensive with age, so purchasing life coverage at a younger age can be financially beneficial. Remember, you can't buy life insurance with money only, you buy it with your health!

Life insurance is an essential consideration when purchasing a home or borrowing money for business ventures. 

By purchasing your coverage at a younger age, you also have the benefit of choosing benefits that are best suited to you. Different types of insurance offer differing advantages and disadvantages. Take your time evaluating your needs, and projected needs for your future and then select the option that fits your life.

Whole life insurance policies are a viable option for people who are young and in good health. With a whole life policy the premiums are stretched out over a long period of time, minimizing the increasing cost. These premiums can either be spread out over your lifetime, or until a set-upon certain age. The earnings from a whole life insurance policy are tax-deferred, and the death benefit never decreases. These policies  have a cash value and can be used for wealth management and estate planning.

Universal life policies provide the purchaser with the option of being able to reduce or increase the death benefit amount. A great advantage to this type of policy is that the cash value tends to increase in a non-linear fashion, depending on how the purchaser invests his/her money.

Term life insurance is a temporary form of insurance, which covers the purchaser for a limited time span, usually 10 or 20 years, and may be renewable up until a certain age.

Term life insurance can be an attractive option when the insurer wants coverage for a specific debt for a specific time frame (i.e. mortgage). Although there is no cash value, the premiums are lower than for whole life insurance. Some policies allow for the option of converting a term life policy into a whole life policy. Premiums for term life policies will increase at 5, 10, or 20 year intervals with the age of the insured person. 

Just remember that the earlier life insurance is purchased, the more options are available to the consumer. Life insurance does not only provide death benefits, but also help you arrange for your long term financial needs and goals.

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# Tuesday, June 06, 2006
Tuesday, June 06, 2006 8:09:22 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00) ( General Life | Mortgage Insurance | Term Life | Whole Life )

New Smoke-Free Ontario Act

The Smoke-Free Ontario Act came into effect on May 31, 2006. The new law now bans smoking in all enclosed public places and work places, including Designated Smoking Rooms.  Tobacco use is the province's number one preventable cause of death and/or disease. The Ministry of Health estimates that roughly 16,000 Ontarians die each year from tobacco related causes.

The new legislation is designed not only to protect non-smokers from second hand smoke, but to encourage current tobacco users to finally kick the habit. By limiting where smoking is permitted, the government hopes that current smokers will finally get the message that it's time for the province to quit smoking.

For those who are trying to quit, here a few tips to consider:

  • Set a quit date.
  • Change your environment where you may be triggered to light up.
  • Ask family and friends for support and encouragement.
  • Drink a lot of water and other fluids to help flush toxins.
  • Talk to your family doctor about effective smoking cessation medications and products.
  • Remember that withdrawal symptoms are temporary, don't give up!

For more help in kicking the habit, these resources have been made available:

Along with the health benefits of becoming a non-smoker, quitting can also affect your life insurance premiums (especially term life). Depending on the carrier, upon 12 months of quitting smoking, you can apply for an amendment that will give you preferred non-smoking rates. Not only will you save your health by quitting smoking, you'll also save money!

For those people who aren't ready yet to quit smoking, offers guaranteed issue health insurance. Guaranteed issue health insurance does not require that a medical questionnaire be filled out, since acceptance is not dependent on your current state of health. The following individual health insurance plans are guaranteed issue:

  • FlexCare ComboPlus Starter Plan.
  • FlexCare DentalPlus Basic and Enhanced Plans.
  • Basic Blue Choice (for Ontario residents only).
  • FollowMe (employee benefits conversion insurance).
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# Friday, May 26, 2006
Friday, May 26, 2006 8:10:36 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00) ( General Life | Mortgage Insurance | Term Life | Whole Life )

It is a good idea to evaluate your life insurange coverage once a year.

Changes in your lifestyle, family, and income can affect the coverage you need.

Once a year, re-read your policy to determine whether your current coverage is adequate to meet all your needs. You should consult your insurance agent if any of the following have occurred or will be occurring:

  1. Change in marital status.
  2. The birth or expected birth of a child.
  3. Significant increase or decrease in income.
  4. Employment status.
  5. If you plan on becoming self-employed.
  6. Any move outside your current province or country.

Please call our toll free number 1-866-369-4474 to discuss your insurance needs with one of our qualified representatives.

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# Friday, February 24, 2006
Friday, February 24, 2006 3:55:24 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00) ( General Life | Mortgage Insurance | Term Life | Whole Life )

Most Canadian life insurance companies use a 5-level health classification system, with the least expensive at the top and more expensive with each level drop in classification.

These classifications are generally as follows:

  1. Class # 1: non-smokers, only 5% of the general population qualifies for this rating. To qualify for this life insurance rate you have to be in fantastic shape and health.
  2. Class # 2: non smokers, about 20% of the general population qualifies. To qualify for this rate you have to be in above average shape and health.
  3. Class #3: 50% of non smokers qualify for this rate. The majority of the population qualifies.
  4. Class #4: Smokers (non-tobacco and non-marijuana users) may qualify for this rating.
  5. Class # 5: Cigarette smokers qualify for this rate.


  • Most life insurance companies will not accept marijuana users even if usage is for medically approved reasons.
  • If you quit smoking for one year , you can re-apply to most insurance companies and be granted a non-smoker rating.
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# Thursday, February 16, 2006
Thursday, February 16, 2006 4:49:04 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00) ( General Life | Mortgage Insurance | Term Life )

Term life insurance rates have been dropping in Canada for the last 10 years or so, due to a variety of reasons.

People are living longer, for one. Smoking, and the overall use of tobacco products has decreased, and rate decreases have been particularly significant for non-smokers.

Another reason is competition, which results in a lowering of premiums. An additional advantage of this is an increasing number of choices as far as term life products available to the public.

In fact, term life premiums are so low that many times we run into cases where people actually save a substantial amount of money by switching their bank mortgage insurance to a term life insurance policy.

For example, a 10-year term for $250,000 for a non-smoking, 25-year old female can cost as low as $125 annually, or $12 monthly (these are preferred rates).

But what about the future trends? Term rates seemed to have leveled out, and it is difficult to say if they will remain the same or start increasing.

If you are considering buying life insurance the time to act is now, while you are healthy and the premiums are low!

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# Tuesday, January 31, 2006
Tuesday, January 31, 2006 10:43:45 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00) ( General Life | Mortgage Insurance | Term Life | Whole Life )

Often times people buying their first home are not made aware that mortgage insurance does not have to be purchased from the lending institution (usually a bank).

In fact, term life insurance is almost always a better alternative to bank mortgage insurance. There are many reasons for this, including the following:

  • With term life the beneficiary is the person you name (e.g. husband or wife), as opposed to the bank.
  • The payable benefits remain the same for term life, as opposed to the bank insurance that only pays the remaining amount owing on the mortgage.
  • Term life policies can be renewed at a later time and converted to permanent life insurance. Bank mortgage insurance is not renewable or convertible.

Time and time again we have situations where people we talk to end up saving a lot of money by switching their bank mortgage insurance to term life (one reason for this is the low current term life rates).

The following relates the experiences of one of our clients:

"I recently purchased my first home 6 months ago. Like most first-time home buyers I was elated at the prospect of finally owning my own home and naturally financed my mortgage through my local bank. As the time of closing neared, the bank informed me that I would have to insure my mortgage which was for $350,000. I asked them how to go about this, and they told me that they would take care of the details and prepare the paperwork for me. Being somewhat busy with all of the other things that had to be done such as packing, getting ready to move, etc., I was more than a little relieved as it was one less thing to
worry about, and I signed the paperwork.

About 6 months later I was online at your life insurance web site looking to find out about web insurance. I contacted your company and was asked if I had any other insurance in place. I told him about the mortgage insurance and he informed me that the bank's mortgage insurance usually had three factors that needed to be looked at:

  1. The lending institution name themselves as the beneficiaries.
  2. The rates tend to be high.
  3. When a bank pays benefits it is only the remaining principal on the mortgage that is paid out.

I was informed that I could get term insurance to protect my mortgage instead, and that the rates would be much lower and that I could be the named beneficiary.

I applied for the term life, and I am now paying $78/month instead of the $142/month I was paying for my bank mortgage insurance (I cancelled that policy after my term life went into effect on the advice of your broker). I named my husband my beneficiary, and if something happens to me he will get the entire proceeds of my policy ($ 350,000 instead of the remaining mortgage principal)."

Ann Ritchie,
Toronto, Ont.

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# Saturday, January 28, 2006
Saturday, January 28, 2006 11:52:01 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00) ( General Life | Mortgage Insurance | Term Life | Whole Life ) is happy to announce the launch of our life insurance blog.

We will be posting life insurance related topics that we feel will be useful to the public.

We encourage comments, and would enjoy your feedback, as well as any suggested content or new articles you would like to see.

We've categorized into Term Life, Whole Life and Mortgage Insurance. Although we recommend term life for mortgage insurance we felt that this should have its own section, and topics particular to mortage insurance.


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