Coronavirus: Will Your Insurance Pay Out?

I have fielded many calls and emails these last 8 weeks and by far the most frequent question that clients have asked has been:

Will my insurance payout should I be diagnosed with Coronavirus?

Things continue to evolve, so some of this information may change; however, below is a summary of how Coronavirus is currently being handled on the life and health insurance side, and what to expect in the future:
 

1. Disability Income Protection

Should someone be unable to work for an extended period of time as a result of Coronavirus, they could potentially qualify for a monthly payout. They would need to:

  • Satisfy the waiting period: for short term disability that is 1 week, for long term disability that is 30-119 days depending on your plan
  • Qualify on the other criteria (for example- can they not perform the normal activities of their occupation?)
  • Be actively employed, not on temporary layoff

 

2. Critical Illness Insurance

Is Coronavirus currently a covered condition? No.
However, someone who contracted Coronavirus may subsequently develop health issues that could lead to a critical illness that is covered under their plan, such as coma or organ failure (click here for a list of covered conditions).
 
 

3. Life Insurance

Should someone be diagnosed with and die as a result of Coronavirus, life insurance would pay out- there are currently no exclusions on anything Corona related.
 
Be aware that all insurance policies have what is called a 2-year contestability period. If someone were to die within the first 2 years of taking a new policy, the insurer has the right to investigate and ensure that all answers provided at the time of application were true and the client disclosed all relevant medical history.
 
 

4. Group Benefit and Individual Health & Dental Plans

If someone is hospitalized or needs medications due to being diagnosed with Coronavirus, health plans do cover certain medical expenses for this illness. You would need to check with your specific provider as to what the terms of your plan are to know exactly what you are covered for.

What changes can we expect in the future?
Insurers will be revising their applications, adding questions about exposure to or being diagnosed with Coronavirus, since there are long term health issues (respiratory, etc.) associated with those who have suffered from this illness. This will affect one’s insurability moving forward, insurers could potentially require higher premiums or decline the application for coverage.
 

The good news is…..
Insurers have temporarily relaxed their guidelines, making it easier for healthy Canadians to get approved for insurance- no medicals required and higher limits of coverage. Anyone needing additional life, disability, or critical illness insurance and does not have health issues, now is a great opportunity to secure the best coverage and rates.

 
Do you have questions about your existing insurance coverage or need additional Life, Disability or Critical Illness coverage? Book a call here.

Coronavirus: 3 Things to Keep in Mind

Coronavirus: 3 Things to Keep in Mind

1. Get information from the right sources and from the experts

Many healthcare professionals are advising that the mass panic such as you see in the U.S. is not warranted, there are many unsubstantiated stories and statistics being circulated. The media is NOT the best place to get your information.
 
Where can I get reliable updates and information?

 

2. Prevention is key

The government and medical professionals are all asking Canadians to focus on prevention – simple steps that can minimize the spread of the virus. This includes:

  • Self-isolating – staying away from public places whenever possible
  • Washing your hands every time you come back from a public location
  • Minimizing your in-person meetings (which for us as business owners can be challenging)


A question I keep hearing is: If a vaccine is developed for COVID-19, will the cost be covered?
Many vaccines are covered by public health agencies; fewer are covered by extended health benefits. If your extended health benefits contract covers vaccines, new vaccines for COVID-19 might be covered.


3. This will affect Canadians when applying for insurance in the future

Insurers will be asking more questions when applying for various types of insurance; some insurers are postponing cases where travel to China, South Korea and Italy is planned in the future with reconsideration after returning to Canada for one month, provided there have been no changes in health or other insurability.
 
The items above deal with how Corona can affect people’s health, what about your finances?
 

Planning for the unexpected is vital in today’s world

Before Corona hit us, finances for many were not completely stable, too many Canadians have not set aside enough money should they be unable to work for several weeks.
 
Many business owners’ income is now being seriously affected: meetings cancelled, orders stopped, new business postponed.
 
TIP: To manage financially, call your bank, some have implemented measures to help their clients get through this financial turmoil. I have heard of a client who was able to pause his mortgage payments, it can’t hurt to ask!
 
As well, going forward, think about the following to protect your health and your finances:
 
Don’t have any healthcare coverage? Check your options to find out how a plan can provide you with medical and financial support when dealing with health issues.
 
Have coverage but haven’t reviewed it recently? Review your plan(s) to see if it still protects you in the way you need.
 
 Want to find out how you can protect your health and your finances? Contact me to schedule a complimentary 30-minute consultation.

 

3 Reasons Why Smart Powerful Women Today Get More Life Insurance


Smart Powerful Business Women

I recently had a great conversation with fellow Powerful Women Today expert, Hailey Patry, happiness coach and founder of The Lifted Lid; I was truly impressed.  Her warmth, wisdom and what she has accomplished so far while being a mom of three young children, are remarkable. Even more impressive was her holistic approach to running her household and her business.

A few years ago, while Hailey was pregnant with her third child, she applied for additional life insurance to protect her family. She took the time to examine her existing plan that she bought ten years prior and realized that it wasn’t enough to protect her young family, should something happen to her. As the primary breadwinner, not having sufficient coverage was a risk that she was not willing to take.

Unfortunately, too many women today (and men) don’t have enough life insurance to protect their loved ones. As parents and caregivers, this becomes a real problem if they were to pass away or get ill.

Did you know there are over 1.4 MILLION GoFundMe pages in North America for families struggling due to illness or death?

People are relying on other people’s generosity to deal with a crisis; this seems to be the riskiest position to be in, but there is a better way! We can all learn from Hailey and her proactive approach to protecting her family.

Here are Three Big Reasons why you should consider getting more life insurance:

1.     You’re the sole breadwinner.

Many women are the primary breadwinner in their household. More women are starting their own businesses and taking on more financial risk but few are calculating the true overall cost of entrepreneurship.  Whether you are single, divorced or married, you most likely have someone who relies on you for care or financial support – a child, aging parents, even a sibling. Life insurance protects those who depend on you should you not be around to care for them.

2.     Life changes.

As you grow and mature in life and in business, your needs change. Like Hailey, it’s important to reassess and make sure the coverage you have is sufficient. Ask yourself the tough but honest questions to get an accurate picture of your needs:

  • Did your family grow?  
  • Who relies on you, even occasionally, for care or support?
  • Has your income or lifestyle changed in the last few years?

Write down all the changes that have occurred since you last got life insurance and ask yourself how your family would manage without you.

3.     Insurance costs for women are significantly lower than men.

Take advantage of this; it is probably more affordable than you think. For example: A 40-year-old woman would pay only $23 a month for $500,000 of term 10 life insurance which is less than a dollar a day to protect her loved ones!

So here is a challenge for all of you Powerful Women Today – take a close look at your family’s needs, your finances and what you want for the future. Can you confidently say, like Hailey Patry, that your family has the protection they need?

To learn more about Hailey and The Lifted Lid, click here.

Have questions or want a complimentary assessment of your insurance coverage? Contact me.

Aviva Abraham is a group benefits and insurance advisor at Creative Planning. She has been providing healthcare solutions for self-employed and business owners since 2010. 

Volatile Markets: Can You Protect Yourself?!

It’s easier than you think

Volatile Markets: Can You Protect Yourself?!

2018 was the worst year for stocks since 2008 but even more worrisome was the volatility we experienced. The Dow swung 1,000 points in one single session alone! This has happened only eight times in its history and five of those took place in 2018.* 
The good news is the Dow Jones had one of its best January’s on record which helped ease the pain of December’s losses. But the question people are asking is, “is there a way to grow our money and have access to it without worrying about market volatility?”

The answer is yes!

If you’re a business owner with a corporation, it’s even better. You can:

·  Grow your assets·  Access your invested cash·  Limit the volatility on your investment
·  Increase the value of your estate and
·  Transfer money to your heirs in the most tax efficient way available today

Joanna’s Story
This strategy was a lifesaver last year for my client Joanna, a business owner who needed some extra funds to grow her business. The problem for Joanna was, when she spoke with her investment advisor, he told her that the market was down and her funds were not performing well at the time, so she wasn’t eager to cash them out. When she asked me what her options were, I explained to her that we could borrow from the cash in her life insurance policy. This allowed her the funds she needed, without worrying about timing the market or market losses and minimized tax consequences for her.  It was the best solution all around.

To find out how this strategy can fit in with your current investments, schedule a call with me today for a complimentary 30-minute consultation.

*To read the CNN article, click here.

Aviva Abraham is a group benefits and insurance advisor at Creative Planning. She has been providing healthcare solutions for self-employed and business owners since 2010. 

Anna Kendrick Photo by Steve Granitz/WireImage.com

Anna Kendrick’s important message after her hospitalization

WireImage.com

If you enjoyed watching Pitch Perfect (1,2 and 3), you’d recognize the name Anna Kendrick – the musically gifted star of these movies.

Recently, Anna experienced several extremely painful episodes, it turns out, from kidney stones. She admitted to trying to work through the pain, hoping everything would subside and she wouldn’t have to miss time from her busy schedule!

Does this sound familiar, especially to the women who are reading this?

A recent study from Yale University found that men are more likely to complain of symptoms caused by illness or injury, while women often downplay pain out of fear of neglecting their daily tasks. However, this neglect can cause serious consequences if symptoms are ignored for too long. 

What did Anna learn from this that she wants to pass on (excuse the pun!) to all women?

After expressing her thanks to the nurses who treated her, the actress pleaded with women to put their health first and seek medical help rather than trying to push through their illness.

“I was worried that my pain would turn out to be “nothing serious” or something that I should have been able to fight through. I’m so grateful to these women (who treated her)…..” she said.

Definitely, something to keep in mind the next time you’re in pain or get sick…

Want to find out how you can protect your health and get the care you need? Contact me to schedule a complimentary 30-minute consultation.


If you like Anna’s music as much as I do, click here and enjoy!

Aviva Abraham is a group benefits and insurance advisor at Creative Planning. She has been providing healthcare solutions for self-employed and business owners since 2010. 

When it comes to Life Insurance, every day is Black Friday

We just experienced some of the best deals of the year last week with all of the Black Friday sales. Yet did you see any major sales advertised for life insurance? My guess is, NO.

That’s because EVERY day is like Black Friday when it comes to life insurance!

Let me explain…

Every day that passes mean you get older and on top of that health issues arise so getting insurance “today” versus some time in the future, would give you the best deal ever. Life insurance is never going to get cheaper than it is right now!

Unfortunately, though, life insurance is one of those things that people take for granted and assume they can buy as much as they want, whenever they want, like my client Sandy.

 Sandy’s Story

I had been talking to Sandy for months; she was a self-employed HR consultant, earning over $100,000 a year. She talked about getting disability insurance but every time we booked an appointment, she either postponed or cancelled.

One day I got a frantic call from her, “Aviva, I am in the hospital!” Sandy told me, “I fell and needed surgery and they are saying I will need months to recover, and lots of physiotherapy. Is there any way I can get that disability insurance we talked about?”

Of course we couldn’t get that for Sandy, not during her injury or even 6 months later. Sandy simply took her good health for granted, and waited too long.

Don’t take your good health for granted, and yes, even though the holidays are around the corner, don’t push off getting the insurance you need another week or month or year. Make it a priority to start the process NOW, and get the best deal you can….Remember it’s never going to be more affordable than it is right now!

Want to learn more about your healthcare solutions?  Contact me for a complimentary 30-minute consultation.

Aviva Abraham is a group benefits and insurance advisor at Creative Planning. She has been providing healthcare solutions for self employed and business owners since 2010. 

Marijuana in the Workplace:

Marijuana in the Workplace:

What Employers and Employees Need to Know

 

Marijuana in the Workplace:

 

 

This article was originally published in the August 2018 issue of HR Professional Magazine.

Once recreational marijuana becomes legal this October, a major increase in marijuana consumption is expected. According to a study conducted by Deloitte, 22 per cent of Canadian adults currently consume recreational marijuana, at least on an occasional basis, and another 17 per cent would consider trying it after it is legalized.

That’s almost 40% of the Canadian population! It’s not surprising then that employers are concerned about how legalization will affect the workplace.

To date, the government has not specified many details about impairment guidelines; it’s still unclear how an employer may legally determine if an employee has come to work under the influence of marijuana, and what course of action to take. There is an even bigger concern with employees who operate in safety-sensitive roles such as those operating heavy machinery, or workers on a construction site.

The use of medical marijuana has also risen in the last few years. There is growing evidence that suggests medical marijuana plays a role in alleviating pain and can be a viable alternative to prescription medications for various medical conditions and symptoms. Though the workplace guidelines here are clearer, medical marijuana use remains a sensitive matter for employers.

Here are five things employers need to know about marijuana in the workplace:

1. The burden of responsibility lies with the employer and management.

Since Bill 148 (Fair Workplace Better Jobs Act) came into effect in January, 2018, the responsibility lies with the employer to accommodate employees in various situations.

Bill 148 provides employees with rights they didn’t have before, and means that the burden of proof is on the employer and management to respond appropriately.

2. Adding medical marijuana to a group plan is not obligatory, but could potentially save employers money.

Insurers and employers were initially concerned that adding coverage for medical marijuana will increase the cost of health plans. However, they found that such coverage actually replaces the use of similar or higher-cost prescription drugs, so this does not raise the cost of the plan.

Medical marijuana is slowly being added as optional coverage to group benefit plans by the big insurers. In January, 2018, Sunlife Financial announced that it was offering limited coverage (up to $6,000 a person/year) for five specific conditions and symptoms.

To read the full article please click here.

Want to learn more about your healthcare solutions? Contact me for a complimentary 30-minute consultation.

Aviva Abraham is a group benefits and insurance advisor at Creative Planning. She has been providing healthcare solutions for self-employed and business owners since 2010. 

Taxes Done? Next Step!

Ten Key Documents You Need to Organize For your Family

 

 

Last year my 57-year-old neighbor died after a long battle with cancer. He left his wife, 5 kids, and 2 grandchildren. The last year of his life was spent visiting doctors and undergoing experimental treatments. Though this was a difficult time for all, it gave him some time to put his finances in order.

One action my neighbour took was to make sure his family knew exactly what his wishes were and where all of his important financial documents were located. He did this so that his family wouldn’t have to deal with a financial mess when he was gone. His family was devastated emotionally when he died, but financially, they were fine, because he took the time to make sure they would be.

Our lives today are busy and complicated, from paperwork to passwords. When someone gets sick or dies – especially when it is unexpected, not only do we have to deal with the emotional impact, we also have to worry about the practical – accessing financial and medical information, tax filings, as well as changing or closing accounts.

Now that you have just gathered all your tax statements, income and assets for your accountant, it’s the best time to take it one step further: make a special file with 10 Key Documents – paper or digital- and keep a copy with two people you trust.

If you love your family and friends, take the time to organize your affairs!

You can download the list of 10 Key Documents here.

Do you have questions about life and health insurance? Need a review of your existing insurance coverage? Contact me for a complimentary 30-minute consultation.

Aviva Abraham is a group benefits and insurance advisor at Creative Planning. She has been providing healthcare solutions for self-employed and business owners since 2010.

Are Your Workplace Benefits Taxable?

Are Your Workplace Benefits Taxable?

 

 

As we approach our April tax deadline each year I often get asked which workplace benefits are taxable and which are not.

If your T4 slip shows employment income (Box 14) higher than the wages you earned for the year, you received taxable benefits from your employer and you must pay the taxes on those amounts.

But how do you know what is taxed and what isn’t?

Here is how the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) treats nine  types of employee benefits for tax purposes:

 

1. Group health and dental premiums

Employer-paid premiums for group health insurance are NOT taxable benefits, an extremely valuable benefit worth thousands of dollars a year. The Liberal government last year discussed making this a taxable benefit but thankfully they did not!

 

2. Group life insurance premiums

Employer-paid premiums for group life insurance, dependent life insurance, accident insurance and critical illness insurance ARE taxable benefits and the amounts paid on your behalf need to be added to your taxable income.

 

3. Group short or long-term disability

If your employer deducts these premiums from your paycheck then it is NOT taxable. I always recommend to clients that their short-term disability (STD) or long-term disability (LTD) premiums be deducted from employees’ pay. If they are not, then any disability benefits you may collect in future will be taxable. In most cases, a few dollars paid today while earning a full income is a lot easier to handle than getting taxed on a reduced income during disability. Check how your disability premiums are being reported.

 

4. Pension & Group Registered Retirement Savings Plans

Your employer’s contributions to a registered pension plan on your behalf are NOT taxable. However, employer contributions to or matching group RRSP contributions ARE taxable. Your employer may deposit the full amount into your RRSP account without any withholding tax being deducted, as long as you have contribution room. Be aware: your employer’s contribution to your pension reduces your RRSP contribution room the following year, via the “pension adjustment” that is reported on your T4.

 

5. Non-group insurance plans

Any non-group insurance plans (i.e. for an individual employee or an executive) paid by your employer are a taxable benefit. Whether it is a sickness, accident insurance, disability insurance, or a health and wellness program with a private facility. These annual fees AREtaxable.

 

 

6. Cellphone

If your company provides employees with smartphones plus a voice and data plan, the CRA will generally NOT consider this a taxable benefit, as long as the cost of the cell phone plan is reasonable and you do not incur additional costs for personal use (e.g., additional long-distance charges) beyond the basic fee for the plan.

 

7. Equipment when working from home

Working at home whether it is full or part-time are now common in many industries. Computer equipment or other supplies provided by your employer to enable you to do your job are NOT taxable benefits. Note: If you must provide your own office space or equipment, you may be able to deduct all or part of these expenses for tax purposes, ask your accountant if and how you can claim those amounts at tax time.

 

8. Tuition reimbursement

Tuition paid for you as an employee is NOT a taxable benefit if you require the training to progress in your job. If your company gives your son or daughter a bursary or scholarship, neither you nor your child is required to pay taxes on these amounts.

 

9. Gifts and awards

If your employer gives non-cash gifts or awards worth <$500 for outstanding service or for milestones such as a wedding or the birth of a child, it is NOT a taxable benefit. Non-cash awards for long service worth < $500 are also not considered taxable benefits after working there for at least five years (you are not eligible for such an award more often than every five years). However, incentive and performance bonuses ARE included in your taxable income.

 

As always, it is a good idea to sit down and discuss any tax-related issues with your accountant. You can use this list to help you ask the right questions as you head into tax season.

Want a complimentary assessment of your insurance coverage and benefits?  Contact me for a complimentary 30-minute consultation.

 

Aviva Abraham is a group benefits and insurance advisor at Creative Planning. She has been providing healthcare solutions for self-employed and business owners since 2010.