Excerpt By Melissa Gilligan | Global News
1) Don’t sweat the small stuff
Making light of things like technical difficulties, dogs barking or kids screaming can help to minimize the stress of having to work in less than ideal conditions, Hambley advised.
She suggests being transparent with people at the beginning of calls or video chats to let them know what your surroundings are like, which she says can help to alleviate undue anxiety.
“We all have things going on at home,” Hambley explained. “Some us have a spouse or a partner, some of us have children, pets – and it’s better to be up front about that and to share with others that our work conditions may not be perfect — and to make light of them.”
2) Don’t act like you’re working from home
Are you reading this while wearing pajamas or sweatpants? If so, you’re probably not alone. However, Hambley suggests trying the best you can to recreate the office environment — even down to the clothes that you wear.
“It helps to get in the right mindset if you dress the part,” Hambley said. “Don’t just wear PJs all day.”
She suggests this can help get people in the mindset of doing work and can also make it easier for them to transition back to “home” life at the end of the day.
She also recommends against taking video calls from bed or conference calls from the washroom.
3) Don’t go silent
Keeping the lines of communication open with colleagues can help to maintain productivity, so Hambley advises making an effort to check in with people and provide regular updates.
“If I’m going on a break I want people to know that maybe I won’t be available for maybe the next hour,” she said. “Keeping each other in the loop with what’s going on really helps.
“It’s better to have more communication right now than less,” she added.
4) Don’t work with bad posture
While it may seem nice to work on your laptop from the comfort of your bed, Hambley warns this can often bring with it some aches and pains.
“It’s easy to just get on the couch and bring your laptop there, or sit at the awkward dining room table … But it can really damage our bodies,” she warned.
Instead, Hambley suggests doing your best to set up an ergonomic workstation.
The excerpted article was written by Lawyers Financial
Your hard work is paying off and your legal career is taking shape. The sacrifices you made are beginning to bloom and your personal goals might include buying your dream home, getting married, and starting a family. This is the time for imagining everything that’s possible. As you look forward, ask yourself what you want to build and how you will protect it so that your loved ones will enjoy security, comfort and peace of mind if anything happens to you.
Growth and protection go hand in hand as your assets grow, your income rises, and you begin to establish yourself in the legal community. Understanding your options is step one.
Mortgage insurance may be one answer
Your bank may have offered you insurance when you took out your mortgage. If you accepted it, you know that your entire outstanding balance will now be paid off in the tragic event of your death. You can take comfort in that decision but now may be the time to cross-examine the benefits of that coverage and consider the limitations and drawbacks:
- No money is paid to your family. The bank is the owner and beneficiary of the insurance policy. That means the proceeds go straight to the bank to pay off your mortgage, regardless of how little is owed.
- Coverage declines but your payments do not. Your insurance coverage pays off the outstanding balance on your mortgage so the less you owe, the smaller the payout.
- Little underwriting is done so healthy homeowners may be paying more than necessary for insurance.Worse still, your claim may be denied later based of your medical history. In the case of a large claim, there may be added incentive for the insurer to dig deeper into your health status.
Achieving greater peace of mind
Term life and permanent life insurance coverage such as Term 80 Life Insurance and Non-Par Whole Life Insurance are guaranteed to pay full benefits to your beneficiaries. The money is theirs to use as they see fit. They may choose to:
- Pay off part of the mortgage to lower the monthly payment.
- Top up education savings accounts.
- Take some time off to plan their next steps.
With cash in hand, they have options. That’s why many people in the early stages of life and career choose the flexibility of life insurance over mortgage insurance.
What’s right for you?
We can help you decide. Contact your Lawyers Financial Advisor and explore your options for protecting your loved ones should anything happen to you.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.
The excerpted article was written by Meera Jain, Raman Johal and Samantha Ip
Clark Wilson LLP
The COVID-19 global pandemic poses an unprecedented risk to public health and safety and has already had a tremendous impact on our economy, forcing businesses to close, projects to shut down, and creating new liability exposures. Consequently, businesses and insurers have many questions regarding policy wording and insurance coverage relating to COVID-19. Will a commercial policy respond to cover business interruption losses? Will a builders’ risk policy respond to inevitable losses from project closure and delay? Will an employment practices liability policy cover potential lawsuits commenced by an employee alleging negligence for exposing the employee to COVID-19? Will a directors and officers policy respond to potential claims against senior management by shareholders or investors arising from corporate decisions made in response to COVID-19?
To answer these questions, the Clark Wilson Insurance Group is presenting a series of articles through its COVID-19 INSURANCE SERIES. In this article, we address whether the “unoccupied exclusion” contained in most homeowner insurance policies will be triggered if a homeowner is caught somewhere due to travel restrictions or other circumstances and his or her home ends up being unoccupied for more than thirty days.
Will the Vacancy Exclusion Operate to Exclude Coverage in the Context of COVID-19?
The COVID-19 global pandemic has resulted in serious restrictions on how we go about our day-to-day lives has led homeowners and insurers to raise questions about policy wording and insurance coverage related to COVID-19. What if a homeowner is unable to travel home from Peru or must have treatment in hospital due to COVID-19, resulting in an unoccupied home for more than 30 days?
The Unoccupied/Vacancy Exclusion
An insurer is entitled to know how a premise is being used. A vacant or unoccupied home presents a different risk than one that is being occupied. To put it simply, if a home is not occupied, there is higher risk that property damage can occur from an insured peril such as fire, flood of theft. As such homeowner policies will contain what has been coined as the “vacancy exclusion” to allow an insurer to deny a claim if the claim occurred during more than a certain number of days of vacancy.
Most homeowner policies will differentiate between a vacant and an unoccupied home. A vacant home is one where the dwelling is not furnished for normal habitation or the occupants have moved out with no intention to return. An unoccupied home is one that has not been lived in for thirty consecutive days. Most insurers will require that a homeowner notify them if the home is being unoccupied or vacant to allow the insurer to amend the terms and condition of the insurance policy if necessary. A failure to comply with this notice condition may result in an insurer denying coverage for a claim or voiding the policy altogether.
The COVID-19 travel restrictions and, in some countries, travel bans, may have made it difficult or impossible for homeowners to return to their homes. Worse yet, a homeowner may have to undergo treatment in hospital for more than 30 days, leaving a home unoccupied. A homeowner is required to notify its insurer if they are unable to return to their home after being away for more than thirty days, or if they may be in treatment for that amount of time, even if that absence was the result of a COVID-19 factors. A failure to notify their insurer may result in the insurer denying coverage for a claim that occurs during their absence.
Failure to Report an Unoccupied Home is Not a Material Change in Risk
Statutory Condition #4 of the Insurance Act requires that insureds report any material change in risk to their insurer, failing which an insurer can void the policy ab initio (as if it never existed). The statutory condition is in all homeowner policies. Consideration of the occupancy exclusion is separate from a consideration of material change in risk which would allow underwriters to void a policy ab initio. Change in the state of occupancy is likely a material change in risk but requires knowledge and control on the part of the insured, such as renting the home to tenants when it was stated to be occupied by the homeowner. However, failing to report that a home is unoccupied during the 30-day period has been deemed not to be a breach of the requirement to report a material change in risk.
Unjust Contract Provision May Prevent Insurers from Relying on Vacancy Exclusion
Section 32 of the Insurance Act contains an unjust contract provision which would likely prohibit an insurer from excluding coverage or voiding a policy ab initio if the underlying reason for triggering the unoccupied exclusion or the statutory condition related to material change in risk were caused by COVID-19. Section 32 provides that:
- if a contract contains any term or condition… that is or may be material to the risk, including, but not restricted to, a provision in respect of the use, condition, location or maintenance of the insured property, the term or condition is not binding on the insured if it is held to be unjust or unreasonable by the court before which a question relating to it is tried.
If a homeowner is forced to go to court to enforce coverage against an insurer that has denied coverage due to the occupancy exclusion, the homeowner may rely on s. 32 to argue that it would be unjust or unreasonable for the insurer to enforce the occupancy condition given the COVID-19 travel restrictions. The application of s. 32 has not been tested in the context of a global pandemic such as COVID-19 but we expect that a court will afford a homeowner some leniency in failing to comply with the strict notice requirements under a policy if they are prevented from returning to their home due to the COVID-19 travel bans. With that said, homeowners should take precautions when leaving their home unoccupied for an extended period of time to avoid a potential loss, such as asking a friend or neighbor to visit the home every few days.
We do not recommend that insurers make any blanket policy changes or broad communications about the enforcement of the “unoccupied exclusion”. Rather, each claim should be considered on its own as coverage depends on the circumstances of each case and the specific policy wording. Any blanket policy change or broad communication may have the unintended consequence of estopping insurers from relying on the vacancy exclusion as it can be regarded as having waived its right to do so.
Commercial insurance policies may also contain similarly worded vacancy exclusion clauses. The above analysis would equally apply to any species of policy containing similar clauses.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.
The excerpted article was written by Rebecca Lake | SmartAssest
If you can afford to pay off your mortgage ahead of schedule, you’ll save some money on your loan’s interest. In fact, getting rid of your home loan just one or two years early could potentially save you hundreds or even thousands of dollars. But if you’re planning to take that approach, you’ll need to consider if there’s a prepayment penalty, among
Basics of Paying Off a Mortgage Early
Many homeowners would love to fast forward to when they own their houses outright and no longer have to worry about monthly mortgage payments. As a result, the idea of paying off their mortgage early could be worth exploring for some people. This will allow you to lessen the amount of interest you’ll pay over the term of your loan, all while giving you the ability to become the home’s full owner earlier than expected.
There are a few different methods by which you can go about paying early. The simplest method is just to make extra payments outside of your normal monthly payments. Provided this route doesn’t result in extra fees from your lender, you can send 13 checks each year instead of 12 (or the online equivalent of this). You can also increase your monthly payment. By paying more each month, you’ll pay off the entirety of the loan earlier than the scheduled time.
If you’re considering paying off your mortgage ahead of time, make sure you avoid these five critical mistakes.
Mistake #1: Not Considering All of Your Options
It can be very tempting if you come into some extra money to put that toward paying your mortgage off ahead of time. However, getting out of debt a little bit earlier may not be the most remunerative choice to make. To illustrate this, let’s look at an example.
Let’s say you’re considering making a one-time payment of $20,000 toward your mortgage principal. Your original loan amount was $200,000, you’re 20 years into a 30-year term, and your interest rate is 4%. Paying down $20,000 of the principal in one go could save you roughly $8,300 in interest and allow you to pay it off completely 2.5 years sooner.
That sounds great, but consider an alternative. If you invested that money in an index fund that represents the S&P 500, which averages a rate of return on 9.8%, you could earn $30,900 in interest over those same 10 years. Even a more conservative projection of your rate of return, say 4%, would net you $12,500 in interest.
Everyone’s financial situation is unique, and it’s very possible that the notion of being out of debt is so important to you that it’s worth a less than optimal use of your money. The important thing is to consider all of your options before concluding that paying off your mortgage earlier is the best path for you.
Mistake #2: Not Putting Extra Payments Towards the Loan Principal
Throwing in an extra $500 or $1,000 every month won’t necessarily help you pay off your mortgage more quickly. Unless you specify that the additional money you’re paying is meant to be applied to your principal balance, the lender may use it to pay down interest for the next scheduled payment.
If you’re writing separate checks for extra principal payments, you can make a note of that on the memo line. If you pay your mortgage bill online, you might want to find out whether the lender will let you include a note specifying how additional payments should be used.
Mistake #3: Not Asking If There’s a Prepayment Penalty
Mortgage lenders are in business to make money and one of the ways they do that is by charging you interest on your loan. When you prepay your mortgage, you’re essentially costing the lender money. That’s why some lenders try to make up for lost profits by charging a prepayment penalty.
Prepayment penalties can be equal to a percentage of a mortgage loan amount or the equivalent of a certain number of monthly interest payments. If you’re paying off your home loan well in advance, those fees can add up quickly. For example, a 3% prepayment penalty on a $250,000 mortgage would cost you $7,500.
In the process of trying to save money by paying off your mortgage early, you could actually lose money if you have to pay a hefty penalty.
Mistake #4: Leaving Yourself Cash-Poor
Throwing every extra penny you’ve got at your mortgage is an aggressive way to get out of debt. It could also backfire. If you don’t have anything set aside for emergencies, for example, you could end up in a tight spot if you get sick and can’t work for a few months. In that case, you may have to use your credit card to cover your bills or try to take out an additional loan.
If you don’t have an emergency fund, your best bet may be to put some of your extra mortgage payments in a rainy day fund. Once you have three to six months’ worth of expenses saved, you may be able to focus on paying down your mortgage debt.
Mistake #5: Extending Your Loan Term When Refinancing
Refinancing can save you money in multiple ways, as it allows you to convert to either a shorter or longer loan term, depending on what’s best for you. So if you’re 10 years into a 30-year mortgage term, you could potentially refinance to a 10-year term and shave off 10 years. On the flip side, you could go for another 30-year term to lower your monthly payments.
However, loans with shorter terms tend to have lower interest rates, allowing you to both save on interest and reach full ownership much sooner. In some cases, though, refinancing could cost you more in the long run, especially if you’re planning to extend your loan term. Before you refinance, it’s a good idea to crunch some numbers and figure out whether having a longer mortgage term really makes sense.
Don’t forget closing costs either. If your lender agrees to let you roll those costs into your loan, you could end up paying more money. After all, you’ll now be on the hook for interest on a larger loan amount.
Whether you should pay off your mortgage early ultimately depends on how much money you have to spare, what your alternatives are and other factors that are unique to you. But if it’s something that’s legitimately on your radar, make sure to seriously consider all of your options.
Although often known for their expertise in investing and financial planning, many financial advisors are knowledgeable about mortgages and home purchases. So if you’re struggling to make a decision on your own, consider consulting with a local financial advisor.
Tips for Buying a Home
- To guide you through a major financial decision like the purchase of a home, you may want to talk to a financial advisor. Luckily, SmartAsset’s advisor matching tool can help you find a suitable financial advisor in your area to work with. Get started now.
- Securing a mortgage can be a stressful and confusing process. For starters, you need to figure out what term is best for you, whether you want a fixed or variable interest rate and where to get the best mortgage rates.
What happens to a property transfer or mortgage financing if the Land Title Office (LTO) is closed and no longer able to accept registrations? Although we are not aware of any current plans for LTO closure, given the number of businesses that have closed due to COVID-19, it is a good idea to be planning for contingencies.
We have spoken with our usual title insurance providers and have been advised that in the event the LTO is closed, their title insurance gap coverage will insure both lenders and purchasers due to intervening registrations on title between the date of closing and the date of registration at the LTO. Gap coverage may also insure a lender’s intended priority position for subsequent loan advances.
Title insurance providers have advised that gap coverage is available provided:
- a title search was conducted within the last 30 days;
- title insurance policies are ordered on or before the closing date; and
- registration documents are submitted immediately when access to online registration is available at the LTO.
In these uncertain times, we suggest our real estate lenders, borrowers and purchasers consider any upcoming transactions they have which may benefit from title insurance gap coverage in the event the LTO closes, and budget accordingly.
Also, in the event a real estate lender does not have title insurance in place for an existing loan, consider whether it is desirable for gap coverage to be obtained to insure the intended priority position on subsequent advances.
Rosemary John and Sarah Jones
Source: Clark Wilson
Rachel Aiello Ottawa News Bureau
OTTAWA — Part-time and seasonal workers are now eligible to claim the $2,000 Canada Emergency Response Benefit, and new money is coming for front-line workers, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced on Wednesday.
Now, workers who are earning up to $1,000 a month, such as contract or gig economy workers, or who have seasonal employment and can’t find a job due to COVID-19, as well as those who are running out of employment insurance, can now apply to collect the CERB for up to four months.
“Maybe you’re a volunteer firefighter, or a contractor who can pick up some shifts, or you have a part-time job in a grocery store. Even if you’re still working, or you want to start working again, you probably need help making ends meet,” Trudeau said.
Unveiling the anticipated eligibility expansion to the CERB program that six million Canadians have already applied for, Trudeau said he is also working with the provinces to boost wages for essential front-line staff to keep them on the job.
He said, in collaboration with the provinces and territories, wages are going to be boosted for essential workers who are making less than $2,500 a month, “as quickly as possible.” It’ll be on the agenda during his meeting with the premiers on Thursday.
This new temporary top-up will be distributed through a transfer to the provinces, with the cost shared, given public health care is generally a provincial responsibility.
Details on which staff will be deemed essential and would be eligible for this new funding is still being worked out, but the federal government estimates it could help “several million workers.”
Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland said that the idea was first brought up by Trudeau on last week’s call with provincial and territorial leaders and it received an “enthusiastic response.”
Trudeau said that the essential front-line staff in hospitals, seniors’ homes and long-term care facilities are doing “some of the toughest jobs in the country,” and because they are now being asked to only report to work at a single facility, their income could be less than what they’d receive if they stopped working and collected the CERB prior to this expansion.
“For many workers looking after the most vulnerable Canadians, including seniors and those with disabilities, we know conditions have gotten more difficult over the past weeks. And you need support right now,” Trudeau said.
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