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.

Should I invite an life insurance agent into my home, or use an internet life insurance broker?

Life insurance is a difficult subject, it is a decision we all have to make, and a thing we all should have. Whether it be a simple policy that will pay out when we die so that our families are not overly burdened by our passing, or an investment for our retirement. The industry is full of difficult language, clauses, contracts, exceptions and fees. It is a minefield waiting to catch the unwary, and one that some people dread to walk upon.

That’s why we have insurance broker, and life insurance agencies. They are there to make the minefield seems a little less perilous, safer to walk through. They are there to make sure that you connect with the policy that suits you best, not one that suits the pockets of the insurance company better. They act as intermediaries between you and the complex facts, forms and figures required by insurance companies before they will agree to cover you.

In the old days it was common to get yourself an insurance agent, and they would come around to your house, partake in a coffee and some biscuits while they laid out their plans and proposals on your dining table. The whole night would be spent going through the facts, and figures, dealing with difficulties and coming up with a plan that you could both afford, and would cover you sufficiently in the event of your death.

More than likely, your insurance agent was a local person. Someone you would see in the local supermarket, who happened to be in the business and only covered the immediate area of their residence, more of a friend or acquaintance than someone trying to sell you something.

Times moved on, and we moved into the internet age.

Today you can have a similar discussion with a life insurance broker on the internet. They will discuss the same things, offer the same facts and figures (probably more now as they have so much more to offer at their fingertips than your neighbourhood agent had in their briefcase) and propose similar services. The only difference is they are not sitting in your home.

Or is that the only difference?

Consider the old scenario again. You would phone up your agent, arrange a time for them to come round and then spend the evening going over things. It wasn’t exactly dynamic was it? You had to dedicate an evening to the process, the only facts you were presented with were the ones they brought with them, and you sort of felt under a little pressure to sign something before the evening was out in case you were guilty of wasting their time. (If you didn’t sign the contract you would have to avoid them if you saw them in the street in the ensuing weeks).

Today’s world doesn’t work like that anymore. In today’s world we expect someone who is providing us with a service to have the world of technology at their fingertips, to be able to offer us any answer to any question. We expect them to be there when we decide, not at a mutually acceptable time; be it 3:30 in the afternoon, or at 8pm when we get home from work. We have the ability to double check any fact or figure they may quote us, instantly using the same internet technologies that they are using. And, a big and, we have the choice to say yes, or to say no, to move on and find someone else to help us – no hard feelings.

In short, in today’s world, we want answers to be fast, efficient and accurate. Forget the social chit-chat, we are discussing business, and when we are finished we want to continue with our normal lives satisfied with a job well done – mission accomplished.

An online broker offers all of that. They are sitting in their office when you speak to them (it can be a chat session, Skype phone call, or just exchanges of emails) so they have all of the facts and figures of their whole company at their fingertips (no more – “let me check with head office” – they are in the office). They are at work, and have lives of their own, so it is not in their interest to try and spend hours talking to you. They will professionally convey the facts and figures, discuss your concerns and worries, make suggestions about policies and terms and let you make the decision. There is no pressure to sign the deal before they leave, they can pick up the conversation tomorrow or the next day.

If you need time to look at the policy, simple, they email it to you and you take your time to read it, no one looking over your shoulder. You can still question any part of it as you would to an agent sitting next to you, or you can end the conversation there and say you will contact them again when you have looked through the documents.

Of course an Internet broker does lack some of the personal touch that a visiting agent used to have. But ask yourself a question; when was the last time you asked the man from the electricity company to come round for dinner when you were deciding which energy plan to use in your house? You didn’t did you? It was a service you needed, you handled it like any other service you need in today’s world, online or via the phone.