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.

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.

 

 

Hobbies that may make your Life Insurer Squeamish

Things like smoking or having a high risk job will affect your life insurance policy – namely the premiums will be higher in relation to the risk you take. Most people, however, do not think of their hobbies when they take out a policy (or their policies when they take up a hobby). However some activities that you perform as a hobby in your spare time will make your insurance company very nervous. An obvious example;  having “skydiving” as a weekend hobby will affect your policy – It will cost you a lot more than someone who doesn’t go skydiving as you have a greater risk of being killed while enjoying this hobby.

Failure to inform your life insurance company of a potentially dangerous hobby could result in the company not paying out in the event of a death while partaking in that hobby, or as an effect of that hobby.

So what hobbies do life insurance companies consider high risk ?

  • Skydiving (as mentioned),
  • Bike, Boat, or motor vehicle racing,
  • Bungee Jumping (as a continuous hobby – not just a one off),
  • Hang Gliding, hot air ballooning, or any form of flying,
  • Parachuting,
  • Rock, or other forms of climbing (buildings, bridges, etc etc),
  • Scuba diving, or any form of deep diving,
  • Surfing, both normal and wind surfing,
  • Skiing, or snowboarding racing.

There are other hobbies not listed above, so you are advised to consult your insurance company when applying for life insurance if you have a hobby that is considered unusual, or involves anything that may be fatal.

Most people tend to tend to forget these activities when applying for a life insurance (Failure to do so could invalidate your policy, resulting in no payment in the event of a serious accident causing death), particularly in the case of hazardous activities. If you were a regular parachutist when you took your policy out at the age of 25, but stopped doing the activity a few years later, you should contact your insurance company and have the details of your policy reviewed (with parachuting being removed) – You may find your premiums drop considerably.

If your insurance company are uncomfortable with your hobby (either at the start of the policy) you can usually find specialist insurers who offer coverage for your hobby. Check with other people who do the same hobby, or with the club you attend to find the name of a suitable insurer. Obviously the premiums for these policies will be higher than regular policies.

The bottom line is, if you do anything that may put your life in danger, either at home or at your job, you should consult your broker to make sure you have sufficient coverage from your life insurance policy.

Does my job affect my life Insurance ?

Life Insurance companies are in the business of making profits from the policies that they sell. This means that for each policy they issue they expect to receive more premiums, and the associated investment income from those premiums, than the amount they agree to pay out upon the event of your death. If they didn’t do this they would go out of business.

This means that they have to judge and assess your lifestyle with a view to evaluating how much risk there is of you dying an unnatural or early death. The greater risk of you dying an early death, then the higher the premium the insurance company is going to charge you.

This risk is based on a set of industry wide statistics used by most life insurance companies. These statistics cover everything from what impact living in an urban area has on your expected life span, to what job you do for a living. Some of the resultant premium increases may seem a little strange, one is the effect of your job.

If you are considered to have a high risk job then your life insurance premium is going to be higher, as the chance of you dying on the job is perceived to be higher. These jobs include, but are not limited to:

  • working on oil platforms,
  • working at heights,
  • being in military service,
  • being a fisherman or pilot.

Insurance industry data suggests that these professions are more likely to cause injury or death, than being, say an accountant. (Although technically speaking, more people die yearly of heart attacks in offices than people do on oil rigs).

So what can you do if you are considered to have a high risk job?

The obvious option is to move out of the industry and get a less riskier job, but that option doesn’t appeal to everyone and is sometimes unavailable. The other option is to shop around, although there are industry wide statistics and measures available for every job available, the amount of premium charged per job can vary greatly from one insurance company to the next.

Your other option is to look for a specialist. As there are a plethora of high risk industries about today, there are a plethora of life Insurance companies who specialize in catering for employees of these industries. These companies can offer preferential rates, that are lower than those available from your regular life insurance broker. Finding one of these can be as simple as asking at your workplace, or may involve you contacting an insurance agent and asking for their assistance to find you the most economical policy for your job.

To sum up, in today’s world of tighter safety control, better work environments and safer working practises; having a job in a place like an oil refinery shouldn’t make the chances of you dying at work any greater than that of an average person crossing a busy street. Unfortunately they do, in the eyes of Insurers. And these insurers are in charge of how much premium you have to pay, so when faced with the need to have your life insured against what appears the prohibitive cost of doing so, you are best advised to find an insurance broker and let them arrange your life insurance for you.