Strong Family Connections can Increase Life Expectancy

“The greatest gift you can give your family and the world is a healthy you” – Joyce Meyer

Over a century’s worth of research underscores the link between life expectancy, physical health and strong, healthy family connections. The researchers behind a new meta-analysis conclude family support can increase survival by up to 50 percent. Moreover, exercising or losing excess weight turns out to be less important to physical health than interpersonal social networks.

The researchers analyzed results of studies going back to the early 1900s with a total of 308,849 participants. Strong family connections were found to help improve health and extend life expectancy by protecting individuals from stressful situations or establishing a standard of healthy living. A significant body of literature shows positive family relationships can mitigate a variety of physiological processes associated with risk of illness, such as high blood pressure and poor immune system functioning.

For seniors, a supportive family member can mean the difference between life and death. When including genetic factors in lifespan estimates, we find family plays a more crucial role now than ever before. Close family connections impact the likelihood of mortality directly. A recent study, presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Sociological Association, showed that seniors that said they did not feel close to family members beyond their spouses were more than twice as likely to die within the next five years compared to those that did.

Mortality Rate and Life Insurance

A number of factors are implicated in a reduced mortality rate, which life insurance providers reflect. These include marital status, the size of the network of family members, and the level of closeness people feel to family members.

The Role of Genes in Life Expectancy

Life insurance providers recognize that their clients’ family members impact their lifespan not only through social interaction, but also genetically. Genetics help determine whether or not a senior will live beyond the average life span, which is 79 years for men and 83 years for women in Canada. Healthy genes can help protect older adults from heart disease, cancer, and other common illnesses. The above-mentioned study showed a person’s genes account for over a third of what will determine their lifespan. The other factors are the environment and lifestyle.

Studies show people don’t classify family ties in terms of their quality, meaning positive and negative associations are lumped together. We can therefore conclude that the benefit of positive family connections is probably even higher than reported. Generally, the influence of family relationships on mortality is complex and contingent upon the quality of the relationship, the type of relationship, and the health status of the person. A recent study published in the Journal of Social Science & Medicine found that people suffering from chronic illnesses who characterized their relationships with family members as close, but negative and demanding, actually experienced lower mortality rates than those who did not maintain close relationships with family members. Researchers speculate that the participants in this study are being observed closely by spouses and adult children and mandated to take better care of themselves, go for regular checkups, take their medication, or other interactions which they may be qualifying as “negative” and “demanding”.

Clients of Canadian life insurance companies go through underwriting when applying for coverage, which involves assessing the insurance risk. The obvious importance of social well-being for physical health is a part of that. Assessment will likely include inquiries into family and social circles and relationship quality in the near future.

US vs. Canada Life Expectancy

Data of the World Health Organization (WHO) show the average lifespan of Canadians is up to three years longer than that of their southern neighbors. This difference is apparent in a variety of illnesses. According to experts, one of the reasons Canadians live longer is because the quality of medical care is better in Canada than in the United States. Health clinics and insurance providers in the US tend to invest more funds in marketing than in medical staff.

However, this doesn’t seem to be the only factor. Americans in the lowest income brackets reported much more health problems than Canadians and cited cost as the main reason for unmet health needs. Canadians, on the other hand, were more likely to cite waiting times.

How Does Life Insurance Help?

The right choice of a Canadian life insurance company will ensure waiting time is brought down to a minimum in moments of need. Statistics show that a large number of Americans have moved to Canada and Canadians living in the US have moved back home because they have grown tired of fighting with insurance providers over coverage issues.

Life insurance can provide income and financial security for the loved ones you name as beneficiaries, helping them cover final expenses and outstanding debts. In addition to this, it can also support a stable financial plan in your lifetime. Permanent life insurance makes it possible to increase cash value within the insurance policy, which can help you attain financial goals, such as paying for your loved ones’ education or augmenting your retirement income.

Don’t leave making a Will too late

Making a will is one of the tasks that people tend to put off most, and it’s one of the main reasons why every year millions of dollars worth of assets left by loved ones don’t end up in the right hands.

None of us like to talk about death and I can understand why, but failing to make a will can leave those left behind with significant problems and stress at what is already a tough time.

Also, having spent a lifetime working hard to accrue wealth and maybe property, surely you want to have a say in who receives what when you die?

A will can ensure that assets remain within the family and are passed on down the generations. Some people are concerned that new spouses may inherit their assets in the future, but a well-structured will can stop this happening.

More than half of Canadian adults do not have a will and could be at risk of losing control over their estate if they die.

Previous reports have estimated that about half of people who have lost a family member in the past 10 years have struggled to locate their financial assets.
The problem is, if people don’t know what savings, investments, life insurance and treasured possessions you own, they have little chance of tracking them down.

They could turn to a lawyer to help with their search, but it’s easy to run up a bill of $1000-plus for this service, and even more if it’s not a straightforward case.

Don’t leave it too late

The most common trigger for writing a will is reaching a milestone age, maybe 40, 50 or even older. Other cited reasons that spur people on to make a will are the birth of a child, the death of relative and buying a property.

Despite the fact that life events such as marriage, divorce and the death of a spouse can significantly alter the effectiveness of a will, many people have never updated their wishes, with a third of people admitting they simply haven’t got round to it.

Also consider this question. Do you have enough life insurance coverage? In many cases, there’s a major gap between the amount of life insurance coverage you need and the amount you have.

 

Joint Term Life Insurance Explained

First of all, what is “Term Life Insurance” ?

Term Life Insurance is where you take out a policy to cover a death of the insured for a set period – the Term. These are typically used by people who may have a mortgage, or other large repayment commitment, and require coverage to make sure that during the period of the commitment the payments are covered in the case of death. Once the Term insurance is finished you do not get any funds in refund for not making a claim against the policy nor do you get a surrender value.

Once you stop paying the premiums of a term life insurance policy, or joint term policy, the policy will be cancelled and you will not be entitled to any refund.

Joint Term life insurance, as the name implies, is where two people are listed on the policy and payment is made if one of them dies or is unable to work. Traditionally the couple on the policy would be man and wife and the policy is created to cover a joint liability (eg a mortgage, income replacement, or other such large domestic cost).

Once claim payment has been made on a joint term life insurance policy the policy is terminated, premium payments are no longer required, and the surviving partner should sign up for a another single term policy if they have on-going commitments that the original joint policy did not cover. Some life insurance companies will provide a window of time where the surviving insured can apply without proving current health and avoid underwriting.

Can I cash in a joint term policy ?

Traditionally – no you cannot. It is used purely as death benefit coverage.

Can I transfer a joint policy to a single person’s term policy ?

Most insurance companies will allow you to convert a joint term policy into a single term policy, providing that both parties are willing to do so. This is mostly used in the case of divorce, or separation where both of the insured’s agree to separate the policy into two policies however beware that there are life insurance companies that do not allow this type of change.

If my partner and I have a mortgage must we use a joint term policy ?

Not at all. If you wish to take out a single term policy just for you (or two policies – one for each of you, you are free to do so). However you should consider some of the pit falls of a joint term life insurance policy.

All policy features are based on equivalent single age this is when the life insurance company calculates a combined age which is higher the then oldest insured. i.e. conversion and termination date.

If one insured is ill and would not qualify for a new policy the healthy insured may have to renew at the higher rate in order to maintain the coverage for the insured that is ill.

Solutions Financial is a Canadian owned and operated life insurance brokerage.

 

 

Choosing Life Insurance Beneficiaries

Nobody likes to think of dying, but as it is a fact of life it must be given consideration at some stage in your life. Normally people will start to think about things like life Insurance when they start families, relationships, or enter into agreements where security in the event of their death is required.

When looking into life insurance and signing up for a policy certain things must be taken into account.

Who are the beneficiaries going to be is an important one. Does any money paid out go automatically to your spouse, children or bank? If you are in a stable relationship, but not officially married, does your partner automatically receive payment or do you have to specify this.

(We have all seen news reports where people have died and their families have hit the headlines while battling amongst themselves for what monies the deceased had, or was entitled to from their insurance policy).

When you take out a life insurance policy of whatever form, there is a space on the policy document where you can name your chosen beneficiaries. If you fill this out any monies due at the time of your death will go directly to them, usually without question and within 30 days.

If you do not fill out this section of the document, any monies due at the time of your death will go to your estate (the collection of assets you owned at the time of death). This estate is handled “in probate” by a lawyer who decides depending on circumstance how the money is distributed.

Normally, the lawyer handling your estate has to respect the contents of a will and distribute the estate as the deceased required. This process can, however, be contested in court by relatives of the deceased for a multitude of reasons.

If you have completed the beneficiary part of your insurance document, it is your responsibility to make sure that it is up to date, changing it as your circumstances change. (For example; when you first got married you took out a life insurance policy and named your, then, spouse as the sole beneficiary. Later on in life you divorced and re-married. In the event of your death any monies due from the insurance policy will automatically go to your first spouse – unless you changed the beneficiary listed in the policy and named your current spouse.)

(Changing the beneficiary listed on your insurance policy is fairly simple, most insurance companies will just require that you fill out the appropriate forms and will then update your existing policy. Whereas changing a will usually requires the actions of an attorney and that the will is signed in the presence of witnesses)

When naming beneficiaries on a policy you have a number of choices:

  • You can name a sole beneficiary: In the event of your death the policy is paid directly to them.
  • You can name primary and secondary beneficiaries: in the event that the first beneficiary dies before you do the proceeds of the policy will go to the secondary beneficiary listed.
  • You can name a list of beneficiaries and specify what percentage each will receive at the time of your death. In the event of the death of one or more of the beneficiaries the figures will be adjusted to accommodate those remaining.

Can you name any one as a beneficiary?

Yes, you can name any one you wish as a beneficiary. They do not have to be a member of your family, or even connected to you in any way. In cases where a policy holder has no direct descendants it has been known for them to name someone unrelated to them who may have cared for them, or even charitable organisations.

It is, however, important to inform the beneficiary that you have named them as such, because if the life insurance company cannot locate the listed beneficiary after a certain period the proceeds of your policy will revert to your estate. (Which, in the case of no descendants, may revert to the province)?

So, when you take out that insurance policy think about whether you wish to name a beneficiary, or let the proceeds go to your estate, which will respect the contents of your will.