In my last column, I talked about buying home insurance as part of the home buying process.
Another conversation I have with clients as part of their mortgage application is around life and disability insurance protection for their mortgage. We have to offer the coverage. It is optional for clients to purchase.
Many clients choose to waive the coverage because they feel they are well covered with programs at work. For some people, this is the case. For others, not as much. I think most people truly don’t understand how much they are covered for, and how long the coverage lasts. It's not a big deal unless you are hurt badly enough to need the disability (payments), or worse, something horrible happens and one of the mortgage holders passes away.
I’ve had conversations with spouses who were left behind without adequate insurance in place. It's heartbreaking. I’ve also had conversations with clients who were injured on the job and are battling with Worksafe B.C. for coverage.
What really made me start thinking about the importance of this was a conversation with one of my favorite people a few days ago. He had a rather unfortunate, unplanned sudden stop on a ski hill. It was the last run of the day on the last ski day before a tropical holiday that was booked for months earlier.
After a four-hour surgery to rebuild his leg, three days in the hospital to try to get his pain under control, it's looking like about five months off of work for the healing and rehab and he is already bored looking at his walls.
He works as a first class power engineer, so he makes big money. He has always been careful with his income, so he has a decent nest egg to get him through. He always figured his disability coverage at work would have been more than adequate to live on if anything happened.
He has discovered after a relatively short time his disability coverage will drop to 2/3 of his salary (in another two weeks). That, in itself, would still be OK, but at the beginning of each year his deductions for EI, CPP, and Income Tax are almost half his cheque. Year to date, his income was already on the low side of what he’s used to.
His expenses are up a bit as he is having to take taxis to all of his appointments (no driving for a while) and he has to rely on take-out (food) as he can’t stand for long to cook. He has a dog sitter who come in to help as he has trouble getting up and down the stairs still.
These don’t seem like big things but they are starting to add up.
Of course, he declined the life and disability insurance when he bought his home. He is young and fit and well covered at work.
Had he opted to buy the disability coverage, he would have had a 60-day waiting period and then the coverage would kick in to cover his mortgage payment and property tax payments. The coverage would also make an extra payment after he went back to work to provide a buffer while he waited for his first full paycheque.
Life hands us curve balls. No one likes to consider the ugly “what ifs” while they are in the throes of buying a home. Carefully considering what your financial picture will look like if one or the other of you is unable to work is important.
Not all policies are created equal, so it is important to consider your options.
Our firm offers Mortgage Protection Plan through Manulife. The coverage is portable from lender to lender in the event that you switch your mortgage and can be ported from one home to the next. Some policies only cover the home and mortgage from the time you first purchase your home, so if you make any changes you have to requalify based on your current age.
The first 60 days of coverage are free which gives you time to research your options while still having coverage in place.
I was not a huge supporter of life and disability coverage until about five years ago when one of my clients had a horrible accident the day after he signed his insurance application. He was lucky in that he survived the crash, and very grateful that he had opted to purchase the coverage.
He was off work for over a year. Although there was help through ICBC, it was a long haul for the family. This coverage saved their bacon.
The pros and cons of various types of coverage is a long conversation. I am not an insurance professional so often direct my clients to speak to their financial planners to research the best coverage for their situation.
The best type of coverage is truly some coverage. Any coverage. Have something in place to protect you and your family in case something unexpected jumps out at you on the ski hill.
This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.