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Getting life insurance in Vancouver: the basics.

Purchasing life insurance is one of the best ways to plan ahead and ensure the wellbeing of your family. Purchasing life insurance means that you pay premiums to a bank or other provider for a term selected by you to ensure that your family members and loved ones are financially protected in the event that you die.

After a person’s death, the insurance company grants a tax-free lump sum to the policy's beneficiaries (usually their spouse or children, but it can sometimes be friends, other family members, or even an organization). That money can be used to pay for your funeral, to pay off any debts, or simply given to your kids to put towards their immediate and future needs.

Another way to think of life insurance is as a replacement for your income that will allow your beneficiaries to maintain their current lifestyle.

If your children are your beneficiaries, they’ll need to be of legal age to access the funds. You can also change your beneficiaries whenever you wish without needing to inform them.

As recent statistics show, Canadians own a lot of life insurance — $4.8 trillion to be exact. Overall, about 22 million Canadians have a life insurance policy covering them for an average of $423,000.

Looking at British Columbia specifically, that number jumps slightly to $447,000 with the average age of policy owners being 42. On this page, we’ll explain facts Vancouver citizens need to know including a breakdown of the types of policies you can get, what affects premiums, and more to keep you in the know.

Your questions about life insurance in Vancouver, answered.

What affects life insurance premiums in Vancouver?

Insurance companies require applicants to take stock of their finances before calculating their premiums. Ideally, your coverage will be able to support your beneficiaries, financially speaking, as though you were living. Because of this, an insurer will take the following lifestyle factors into account.

Your income: In the event of your death - and the end of your regular paychecks - life insurance is a safety net that allows your family to continue paying the bills, buying groceries, paying the mortgage, etc. Because of this, your income directly impacts your monthly payments. To give you an idea, according to Statistics Canada, in Vancouver, the average income was $72,662 in 2015.

The size of your mortgage: When choosing a life insurance policy, you need to make sure your family is covered for costs incurred after your death. For most Canadian families, mortgage payments are one of the biggest considerations. Vancouver has a notoriously expensive housing market, making it the most expensive place to buy in Canada. This factor might impact Vancouverites’ life insurance needs. Consider that in the west coast city, the average price of a home right now is $1,157,185.

Your household debt: Whatever debts you accrue while you’re alive will also become the responsibility of your family and that will impact how much life insurance you need to buy. Vancouver’s cost of living is higher than most places across the country and therefore, debt levels are higher too. To give an example, the average household debt among those in the city, not including mortgages, was reported to be $38,588 in the last quarter of 2017.

Your monthly living expenses: When a provider pays out your death benefit to your beneficiaries, that total is intended to stand in for lost income so that the family members can maintain the standard of living that they’re used to. Consider that in Vancouver, a single person would need to spend close to $3,000 a month (or close to $35,000 annually) meet basic needs. In the province of British Columbia, average family household spending comes to about $86,000 annually.

What kind of life insurance policy do you need in Vancouver?

Life insurance policies aren’t all created equal. After deciding key things like whether or not you need life insurance and who you’ll name as your beneficiaries, you will have to decide which type of policy you want. In Vancouver (and across Canada for that matter), there are two main types of policies: term life insurance and permanent.

Term life insurance: This is the policy type where you set a term or a window in which the policy is valid. For those who opt to go this route, their life insurance is valid during a set number of years (10, 20, 30, etc.) or by a certain age (many insurers list 65 or 75 as the limit). The important thing to know about this policy is that if you die outside of those parameters, your family members will not receive anything. In addition, term life insurance policies don’t come with a cash value nor can you borrow against the policy. Furthermore, if you don’t pay your premiums, your provider is within their right to cancel.

Permanent life insurance: This is the policy that has you covered for life, regardless of when you die. With permanent life insurance, the beneficiaries will receive their payment regardless of when you die or at what age. They also have cash values attached to them so if you cancel, you get cash back. One of the really attractive features of this policy is that the premiums don’t change as you age. In other words, if you lock in a low premium while you’re young, you’re set.

Other things that affect your life insurance premium in Vancouver.

You won’t know how much you’ll pay for life insurance premiums until you actually seek out a provider and get a quote. However, note that like any other type of insurance, the company will charge you higher amounts if they think there’s a high likelihood that they’ll have to pay a claim. The following factors are the ones that influence your insurance premium the most — more than which Vancouver neighbourhood you live in.

  • Age: As you age, premiums rise. This is only logical: a policyholder who is older has a greater risk of death and will pay more even if they are in great health. Premiums tend to rise for every year you age which is why it may be an incentive for some to lock in a lower premium while they’re young.
  • Gender: When insurance providers assess your risk, gender comes into account. Men are deemed riskier in general and so they pay higher premiums than their female counterparts.
  • Smoking: Smoking puts you at a higher risk of pretty much everything and that includes paying higher premiums. If the slew of health risks that accompany your nicotine addiction isn’t reason enough to quit, consider that pretty much every life insurance provider is going to hike your premium if you’re regularly puffing on cigarettes.
  • Drinking: Similar to smoking, excessive drinking puts your health at risk. Regular drinkers are also deemed higher risk and could pay higher premiums.
  • Pre-existing conditions: When getting a quote, you’ll have to do a medical exam to give the insurance company an idea of whether or not you’re risky to insure. Past diagnoses, prescription history, presence of chronic illness, or a history of diabetes or heart attacks, for example, can all play a role in determining your monthly payments.
  • Family history: For providers, a family history of certain diseases or conditions may be a red flag and could lead to an increase in your fees.
  • Weight: If you’re overweight or underweight, your premiums will be higher than someone deemed to be at a "normal" weight. This is especially true for obese policyholders.

How much does life insurance cost in Vancouver?

Here’s an estimation of how much life insurance could cost you. Apply for a personalized quote to get a better idea of how much you’d pay.

Male, 30, non-smoker

Location: B.C.

Coverage amount: $400,000

Term 30: $40 - $830 / month

Whole life: $220 - $340 / month

Female, 30, non-smoker

Location: B.C.

Coverage amount: $400,000

Term 30: $29 - $70 / month

Whole life: $195 - $330 / month

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