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Life insurance in Canada - Discover more from our Director of Financial Services Brandee Linley

Brandee Linley is our Director of Financial Services with Western Financial Group. Her passion for the benefits life insurance bring to families and loved ones came from her own experiences. An industry leader, she enjoys teaching customers the ins and outs of vital life and financial services coverages.


Could you tell me about the needs analysis your brokers initiate with new customers?

Whereas many people know that life insurance is designed to replace income should you die prematurely, there are many other benefits that clients should know about. At Western, we start with a well-rounded conversation that helps us understand who you are and exactly what it is you require.

This includes learning about where it is you work, if you have a benefits plan and if so, what coverages are under it. Other questions involve debt, mortgages or personal loans as well as yearly income.

We will also ask if you have any dependents who would be affected if you were to pass away and leave them behind. Our licensed teams want to know what coverages you need, or if you’re missing any.

This is all part of our needs analysis to learn your requirements for life insurance, and help answer that age-old question, ‘how much life insurance do I need?’

Could you describe your background in life insurance and financial services?

I have been in insurance for 16 years and I’ve been life licensed for 11 of those. My passion for financial services (FS) comes from my own personal circumstances. I found myself not having enough knowledge about FS and it did have an effect on my family. It became very important to me to share what I now know, but didn’t before, with other people.

What is the difference between term life and whole life/permanent life?

On a term life insurance policy, you pay your premiums for a set period of time. For example, you may pay for the 25 years while you are paying off your mortgage and your kids are at school and studying. If you die during this period, the policy pays out to your beneficiaries. If you are still alive by the end, the coverage ends with no payout. Most term policies give a renewal option but the premiums tend to be expensive.

On a whole life policy, you pay premiums for a set number of years or until you pass, and it pays out upon your death. It is a permanent policy. It cannot be taken away from you as long as the premium payments are up to date, even if you have a change in your health. Some permanent policies also earn a cash value over time. They tend to be more expensive than term but your rates will not increase over time due to age.

What aspects of life insurance and financial services might surprise customers?

The living benefits are among the biggest parts of life insurance. We’re talking about critical illness, disability coverage as well as health and dental. There are so many products that people don’t know they can actually purchase, or don’t think they qualify for them without a group benefits plan.

One of the little-known features we can do for children is a fracture benefit. This is for anyone who has ever been laid up in a hospital because their child broke a bone, or has missed work, because they’re taking care of their child at home.

My toddler broke his femur when he was two and a half. I was off work for three months. If I would have had a fracture benefit, I could have claimed to replace some of the income I lost when I was off work with him. I had to stay in the hospital with him for six weeks.

They put him in a little body cast from the waist down and he was in the cast for another six weeks. Then we went through physio so he could walk again. It was a long time.

The last thing you need to be worried about while you’re in the hospital taking care of your toddler is money. This fracture benefit pays out a lump sum based on the bone that is broken.

What makes the Western team industry leaders when it comes to life insurance?

It starts with the amount of training we receive, our attention to the client and ability to listen. Empathy plays a huge part as well. We often pull from our own experiences as to why these coverages are important. We always make sure we are having frank, yet sensitive conversations.

Our account executives want our clients to feel comfortable speaking to us, whether it is regarding their medical history or should something happen to a loved one. We want our clients to feel that trust in us and know that everything they say is in confidence.

As an insurance broker, we access several different insurance carriers and are licensed to sell in British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Ontario. We do the shopping for our clients, which, to them, is a real time saver. Plus, for extra convenience, we can truly become that one-stop shop for people if we also provide their home insurance, car insurance etc.

What are the guarantees with a life insurance policy?

All policies have a two-year contestability period in which the insurance company can bring to question different aspects, including if someone has medically misrepresented themselves. The insurance company has its own “insurance policy” to ensure fraudulent claims aren’t taking place. Yet, if you have a fully underwritten life insurance policy, meaning the investigation was completed and you receive the policy, then you have that peace of mind knowing that policy will pay out.

What happens to my insurance coverage if my health changes?

If you already have coverage, it can’t be taken away. This is among the reasons why you want to get life insurance when you’re young and healthy. You’ll be less likely to have any problems getting coverage. Then, we have the security in place for when the ‘what if’ happens. If you get the coverage in your 20s and you start having medical issues or a diagnosis in your 50s or 60s, that policy is already in place. You won’t have to worry about qualifying for it if you become ill and have a pre-existing condition.

Who should get life insurance?

Everybody. If you have people who are going to be affected negatively financially should something happen to you, you need life insurance.

When is the ideal time to start having the conversation about purchasing life insurance?

Talking to our teenagers about these coverages should be part of their life skills that we’re teaching them. It’s no different than balancing a checkbook. We need to be having conversations about critical illness, even disability. At this point, you may certainly need to replace your income if something happens to you through illness or injury, which makes you unable to work.

Not everybody has the benefits of having an extended health plan with their job. This might be because they’re working for a small business, or they’re self-employed among other reasons.

There are benefit plans that we can get for single people, or a plan for a family, or even one for them and their employees, which would include the right coverages that fits their needs.

What benefits does life insurance have for myself and my family while I’m alive?

We can build these amazing packages. Our carriers offer products that are really multi layered. One provider has a product which bundles together life insurance, critical illness and the fracture benefit under one policy with one premium. It’s a permanent policy, so you only pay for it for a certain number of years and then you don’t pay for it anymore.

Why does life insurance make a great gift for parents or grandparents?

The policy I just mentioned, you can also buy a return of premium. The policy develops a little bit of cash value. Parents or grandparents can give that policy to their child or grandchild, and once they get their own coverage as an adult, they can take the previous policy, cash it and use the money for post-secondary education, purchasing a house etc. They can also simply keep the policy and have the coverage. This way loved ones don’t have to worry about being insurable.

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