Rest in peace: Weigh your needs when considering to buy life insurance

By Linda Nguyen


TORONTO _ Death isn’t a topic people like talking about, but keeping mum and failing to prepare financially for the inevitable can have a lasting impact on loved ones.

So where to begin when digging through the array of life insurance options out there?

“It’s not sexy, but financially, (buying life insurance) might be the wisest decision you’ll ever make,” said Mark Coutts, a certified financial planner at Sun Life Financial.

“Insurance is always something, in hindsight, that seems like a great idea.”

Generally, there are two main types of life insurance term life policies and whole life policies.

Term life insurance is the more popular option because it allows policyholders to buy it for a specific time period _ for example, 10 to 25 years. They’re guaranteed to have coverage for that period at a set monthly premium. After the term is over, holders can sign on for a new term (if they are still in good health) but at a new, usually higher rate.

A whole life policy can also be purchased for a set period at a set price. But once payments are completed for that time period, the policyholder will stay covered for the rest of their life, however long that may be.

With a whole life policy unlike term insurance premiums that are paid will be invested by the insurance company. With some whole life policies, consumers also have the option to choose what investment vehicles they want their premiums to go into, including accounts where they can be paid a dividend annually.

A whole life policy is also attractive because once all payments are made, it cannot be reneged even if one’s health worsens.

So why choose a term policy over a whole life policy? The big difference between the two policies is price.

For example, a premium on a term policy can be about $100 a month, while a whole life policy can run up to $500 a month, for the same amount of coverage.

Coutts likened the two types of policies to renting versus buying a home.

Term policies are more attractive because they’re cheaper over the short term but policyholders are not building up any equity once the term ends.

A whole life policy, like a mortgage, is more expensive upfront, but people can maintain coverage and there is more opportunity to take that money and use it for estate, tax and investment planning. It also can be used as a tax shelter later in life.

But at the end of the day, what kind of insurance consumers buy depends on three fundamental questions:

How much insurance do they need? How long do they need it for? And what is their budget?

Coutts said people should consider all the costs associated with their death.

If they are the main breadwinner in their family and they have dependents, they should calculate how much money their survivors will need when they die. Funeral costs, mortgage payments, car loans and inheritances should also be taken into account.

It’s often recommended that people purchase a life insurance policy between five to seven times their annual salary.

“What you don’t want to happen is for the insurance to expire before your need does, and for your health to change in the interim,” said Coutts. “Then we’ve got a problem.”

Ron Sanderson with the Canadian Life and Health Insurance Association said it’s also important to consider whether there is additional coverage through work or a professional association, and factor that in before buying a personal policy.

He noted that term policies are also not forever. Once a young couple ages, they can often convert their term policy into a permanent one if they’ve taken care of most of their financial responsibilities, including maxing out their RRSPs and paying down their debt.


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Life insurance industry wants assisted dying treated differently than suicide

By Geordon Omand


VANCOUVER _ Life- insurance providers have told the federal government its members are willing to lift the standard two-year exemption for suicides and pay out policies on people who end their lives through physician-assisted death, says the head of the industry’s professional association.

Frank Zinatelli of the Canadian Life and Health Insurance Association said if someone follows the legislated process, which is expected to be announced as early as next week, then providers would pay out on policies that are less than two years old.

“The industry has determined that this is obviously something that the Canadian population wants and we’re not going to stand in the way of that,” Zinatelli said in an interview.

“We talked with our members and we determined that it makes sense that if the governments all make a decision along these lines that this should be ? permitted then we want the policy intent to be carried out.”

Life insurance policies typically contain an industry-standard clause releasing providers from paying if a client commits suicide within two years of signing the contract.

“If you follow the process, which is outlined by the government or governments, then that possible exclusion won’t be applied,” Zinatelli said, adding that the law might differ between provinces.

The Canadian Life and Health Insurance Association’s website says it was established more than 120 years ago. The voluntary association represents 99 per cent of the country’s life- and health-insurance businesses.

Providers would not pay if a client misrepresented his or her health when signing the contract, as is currently the case, or if a policy specifically exempted the particular illness for which the holder sought a medically assisted death, added Zinatelli.

He also encouraged the government to include the underlying condition on a person’s death certificate, though he had no objection to including a reference to assisted death also being noted.

Zinatelli said he didn’t anticipate the legislation would result in an increase to premiums, adding that the policy change likely wouldn’t have a big overall impact on the lifeinsurance industry.

Representatives from the wills and estates industry had differing views on the anticipated impact of the pending legislation.

Tim Grieve, who chairs the Canadian wing of the Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners, expected the repercussions to be minimal.

Estate planners and litigators are well positioned to accommodate legal changes that would allow Canadians to include an advance directive for assisted dying in their wills, he said.

That would include people being able to ask in advance for a medically assisted death if later diagnosed with a competence-impairing condition, such as dementia. The Canadian Press has reported that the upcoming law is unlikely to include such provisions, citing sources who are unauthorized to speak publicly about the imminent bill.

“Our job as estate planners has always been first and foremost to understand the wishes of our client and to document those wishes in a way that would survive challenges from people who don’t agree with those wishes,” Grieve said.

His industry specializes in establishing mental capacity, namely whether people are fully informed and aware of the implications of their wishes.

“This is what we’ve always done. We have to make sure that people are coming across clearly to us and that we clearly put into the documentation what they wish to happen,” he said.

“This really just adds one more wish that we’ll be documenting.”

Shelley Waite, vice-chair of the Canadian Bar Association’s national wills and estates branch, anticipated more significant fallout from the law.

Legislation around advance-care directives differs between provinces, meaning work would have to be done to ensure the laws are consistent so that wishes around medical assistance in death would be portable across the country, she explained.

“What happens if you get diagnosed in Alberta but you wish to live with your parents in British Columbia because that’s where they reside?” Waite asked.

“Those are the types of questions that I think will need to be answered.”


Sun Life Financial to acquire remaining 51% of CIMB Sun Life in Indonesia

Sun Life Financial Inc. (TSX: SLF) (NYSE: SLF) today announced an agreement that will result in its 100% ownership of PT CIMB Sun Life (“CSL”) through the purchase of an additional 51% of CSL from its long-term partner, CIMB Group. Sun Life Financial currently owns 49% of CSL as well as 100% of PT Sun Life Financial Indonesia (“SLF Indonesia”). Both are life insurance companies in Indonesia.

Sun Life Financial intends to integrate CSL’s business under the Sun Life brand with SLF Indonesia, which is a key step to comply withIndonesia’s “single presence” policy.

In addition, Sun Life Financial Indonesia is deepening its partnership with CIMB Group through an extended bancassurance arrangement with PT Bank CIMB Niaga Tbk (“CIMB Niaga”), the fifth largest bank by asset size in Indonesia as at December 31, 2015. This arrangement will strengthen distribution capabilities across CIMB Niaga’s 618 branches and customer base throughout Indonesia. CSL customers will continue to have access to the same comprehensive range of wealth management and life insurance solutions that they enjoy today from Sun Life Financial Indonesia.

“This is an exciting opportunity to deepen and enhance our business in Indonesia, a priority market for our long-term growth in Asia,” said Kevin Strain, President, Sun Life Financial Asia. “We had anticipated and positioned ourselves well to meet the “single presence” policy, and uniting the businesses in SLF Indonesia will give us even greater ability to serve our customers. This includes more efficient investment in technology, products and brand. We’re also delighted to be strengthening our partnership with CIMB Group, who is also our long-term bancassurance partner in Malaysia.”

These changes will build further on Sun Life Financial’s momentum in Indonesia, increasing its presence across the country. This is in addition to SLF Indonesia’s previously announced commitment already underway to invest US$40 million to enhance its agency force, increase online penetration and strengthen its brand presence in the market. Earlier this year, SLF Indonesia opened three new offices in East Java and in 2015 moved into its expanded headquarters, Menara Sun Life, in Jakarta.

The transaction is expected to close by the end of the third quarter of 2016, subject to receipt of regulatory approvals and satisfaction of customary closing conditions. Terms were not disclosed.

Forward-looking information
In this news release, “we”, “our” and “us” refer to Sun Life Financial Inc. and its subsidiaries and joint ventures. Certain statements in this news release are forward-looking, including those relating to our growth strategies and strategic objectives and the expected timing of the closing of the transaction, and other statements that are not historical or are predictive in nature or that depend upon or refer to future events or conditions. Forward-looking statements may also include words such as “aim”, “anticipate”, “assumption”, “believe”, “could”, “estimate”, “expect”, “goal”, “intend”, “may”, “objective”, “outlook”, “plan”, “project”, “seek”, “should”, “initiatives”, “strategy”, “strive”, “target”, “will” and similar expressions. All such forward-looking statements are made pursuant to the “safe harbor” provisions of applicable Canadian securities laws and of the United States Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995.

The forward-looking statements in this news release represent our current expectations, estimates and projections regarding future events and are not historical facts. These forward-looking statements are not a guarantee of future performance and involve risks and uncertainties and are based on key factors and assumptions that are difficult to predict, including the assumption that the transaction, including the terms of the bancassurance arrangement will be approved and completed on terms acceptable to the parties, or at all, and the assumption that CSL and PT Sun Life Financial Indonesia will be successfully integrated. Except as may be required by Canadian securities laws, we do not undertake any obligation to update or revise any forward-looking statements contained in this news release.

Forward-looking statements are presented to assist investors and others in understanding our expected financial position and results of operations as of the date of this news release, as well as our objectives for the transaction, strategic priorities and business outlook following the transaction, and in obtaining a better understanding of our anticipated operating environment following the transaction. Readers are cautioned that such forward-looking statements may not be appropriate for other purposes and undue reliance should not be placed on these forward-looking statements.

Other important risk factors that could cause our actual results to differ materially from those expressed in or implied by the forward-looking statements in this news release are listed in the annual information form of Sun Life Financial Inc. for the year ended December 31, 2015 under the heading “Risk Factors” and other regulatory filings of ours filed or furnished to Canadian and U.S. securities regulators available at and

About PT Sun Life Financial Indonesia
PT Sun Life Financial Indonesia is a wholly owned subsidiary of Sun Life Financial Inc. It offers a wide range of protection and wealth management products, including life insurance, education insurance, health insurance, and retirement plans. It also partners with leading national and multinational financial institutions as part of its multi-distribution channel strategy to provide Indonesians wider access to its insurance solutions.

SLF Indonesia has been recognized by the CARRE Center for Customer Satisfaction and Loyalty for excellence in its customer service and call center activities.

About Sun Life Financial
Sun Life Financial is a leading international financial services organization providing a diverse range of protection and wealth products and services to individuals and corporate customers. Sun Life Financial has operations in a number of markets worldwide, includingCanada, the United States, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Hong Kong, the Philippines, Japan, Indonesia, India, China, Australia,Singapore, Vietnam, Malaysia and Bermuda. As of December 31, 2015, the Sun Life Financial group of companies had total assets under management of C$891 billion. For more information please visit

Sun Life Financial Inc. trades on the Toronto (TSX), New York (NYSE) and Philippine (PSE) stock exchanges under the ticker symbol SLF.

SOURCE Sun Life Financial Inc.

A.M. Best Assigns Rating to The Empire Life Insurance Company’s New Preferred Shares

A.M. Best has assigned an issue rating of “bbb” to the recently issued CAD 130 million non-cumulative rate reset Series 1 preferred shares of The Empire Life Insurance Company (Empire Life) (Kingston, Ontario, Canada). The outlook assigned to the rating is stable, which is consistent with the outlook for the existing ratings of Empire Life. (For further details, please see A.M. Best’s press release dated May 19, 2015).

Empire Life intends to use the net proceeds from the sale of the preferred shares for regulatory capital and general corporate purposes. The Series 1 preferred shares’ initial dividend rate is set at 5.75%, payable quarterly until April 17, 2021. Subsequent to this initial period, and every five years after, Empire Life will determine on the 30th day prior to the first day of the subsequent fixed rate period the annual fixed dividend based upon the five-year Canadian bond yield. A.M. Best notes that Empire Life’s overall financial leverage is expected to remain below 30%, while interest coverage is expected to remain above five times. Both measures are within A.M. Best’s guidelines for Empire Life’s current rating level.

The rating recognizes Empire Life’s continued earnings growth and sustainable market presence in Canada with multiple lines of business. Empire Life is among the 10 largest life insurance companies in Canada (based on general and segregated fund assets), although the company has a 6% market share or less in its three major product lines. Empire Life markets a broad range of life insurance and investment products, employee benefit plans and financial services to individuals, professionals and the small to medium group market through multiple distribution channels. Additionally, A.M. Best will continue to monitor the company, which has been challenged due to sustained low interest rates and recent equity market volatility given its large segregated fund block of business.

This press release relates to rating(s) that have been published on A.M. Best’s website. For all rating information relating to the release and pertinent disclosures, including details of the office responsible for issuing each of the individual ratings referenced in this release, please see A.M. Best’s Recent Rating Activity web page.

A.M. Best is the world’s oldest and most authoritative insurance rating and information source. For more information, visit

Copyright © 2016 by A.M. Best Company, Inc. and/or its affiliates. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.


A.M. Best
Erik Miller, 908-439-2200, ext. 5187
Senior Financial Analyst
Edward Kohlberg, 908-439-2200, ext. 5664
Managing Senior Financial Analyst
Christopher Sharkey, 908-439-2200, ext. 5159
Manager, Public Relations
Jim Peavy, 908-439-2200, ext. 5644
Assistant Vice President, Public Relations

Manulife to offer Canadians discounts for healthy activities

Manulife Financial Corporation has announced it has reached an agreement in Canada with The Vitality Group (Vitality) to introduce life insurance that rewards people for healthy living. Vitality is the global leader in integrating wellness benefits with life insurance. In 2015, John Hancock, the brand under which Manulife operates in the United States, announced an exclusive alliance with Vitality for the United States.

Customers who choose this innovative, new kind of insurance will have industry-leading financial protection, opportunities to save on their insurance premiums, and earn valuable rewards and discounts for taking steps to improve their health. Members will receive personalized health goals and can easily log their activities using online and automated tools, which are integrated with the latest wearable fitness technology.

“With Vitality, Manulife is changing the whole notion of life insurance in Canada,” said Marianne Harrison, President and Chief Executive Officer, Manulife Canada. “Manulife will play an active role in helping Canadians live a long, healthy, happy and fulfilled life. We will be there every step of the way, engaging with them, encouraging them to stay fit and active, and keeping up-to-date on their needs and aspirations, and those of their families.”

How it works
After identifying a need for insurance and completing the application process, new members will take an online Vitality Health Review to determine their Vitality Age, an indicator of overall health that may be higher or lower than their actual age, which can improve over time as they work toward living a healthier life.

“Through the success of John Hancock Vitality in the US and long-standing efforts in other parts of the world, we’ve found that when people purchase an integrated life insurance product and participate in the program, they are motivated to set goals and take steps to healthy living,” said Alan Pollard, CEO, The Vitality Group. “Vitality and Manulife share a commitment to improving the lives of our customers and with more than 128 years of experience and a history of innovation, Manulife is the perfect partner to help us bring this solution to Canada.”

After their policy is issued, members will immediately begin accumulating points when they complete health-related activities like exercising, getting an annual health screening or even a flu shot. The number of Vitality Points a policyholder earns over the course of a year determines their program status level. The more engaged they are with the program and involved in living a healthier lifestyle, the more points they can accumulate to earn other rewards and discounts from leading retailers.

“Manulife is moving away from being a traditional insurance company to one that actively partners with customers to help them achieve overall well-being, including physical and financial health,” added Ms. Harrison. “Manulife is the first financial services company inCanada to focus on their customers in this way, and it opens the door for our advisors to have many more conversations with customers.”

During the first half of 2016, Vitality and Manulife will be developing the full scope of the Canadian program, which includes collaborating with other retailers for the rewards component.

For more on information, please go to:

About Vitality
The Vitality Group is a member of Discovery Ltd., a global financial services organization offering an incentive-based health and well-being program to employers, as part of their benefits program, and to insurers. With a foundation based on actuarial science and behavioral economic theory, Vitality encourages changes in lifestyle that reduce healthcare costs, both in the short run and long term, by rewarding members for addressing their specific health issues. Vitality well-being programs serve companies in a wide range of sizes and industries, improving individuals’ health and wellbeing as well as employers’ bottom lines.

Vitality brings a global perspective through successful partnerships with large employers and best-in-class insurers around the world, in countries including the United States, United Kingdom, South Africa, China, Singapore, Australia, Hong Kong, and the Philippines. Additional information can be found at

About Manulife
Manulife Financial Corporation is a leading international financial services group providing forward-thinking solutions to help people with their big financial decisions.  We operate as John Hancock in the United States, and Manulife elsewhere. We provide financial advice, insurance and wealth and asset management solutions for individuals, groups and institutions. At the end of 2014, we had 28,000 employees, 58,000 agents, and thousands of distribution partners, serving 20 million customers.  At the end of September 2015, we had $888 billion (US$663 billion) in assets under management and administration, and in the previous 12 months we made more than $23 billion in benefits, interest and other payments to our customers.  Our principal operations are in Asia, Canada and the United States where we have served customers for more than 100 years. With our global headquarters in Toronto, Canada, we trade as ‘MFC’ on the Toronto, New York, and the Philippine stock exchanges and under ‘945’ in Hong Kong. Follow Manulife on Twitter@ManulifeNews or visit or

SOURCE Manulife Financial Corporation

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