$18,500 a month! That is the cost for a client’s targeted Chemo pills in 2023. $18,500 a month!

I make no bones about the fact that I am a huge fan of and advocate for Critical Illness insurance. The reason is very simple. Long before I became an insurance advisor my best friend Rob, at the age of 33, was diagnosed with liver, lung, and lymph node cancer.

Because he did not have any insurance, ultimately, he and his wife had to move into the basement of his grandmother’s home where they lived on her CPP and OAS pension.

Rob very quickly came to terms with his illness. Where he needed the most support was money. I remember him telling me about “experimental” drug treatments. Experimental, because, at the time, they were not covered by the provincial health care program. When he was going through this, 20 odd years ago, they were $3,000 a pill. He did not have $300 extra dollars. Let alone $3,000. Now, the same, are $18,500 a month.

This is the reason I became an insurance advisor. I don’t want to see families go through what my friend and his family went through.

The statistics.

Cancer is responsible for 30% of all deaths in Canada. (Source: Canadian Cancer Society)

Cardiac Arrest 35,000 occur in Canada annually. (Source: Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada)

Dementia is presently the most expensive illness in the country. Medical expenses and lost earnings equal approximately $33 billion (Source: Alzheimer Society of Canada)

Stroke 62,000 cases every year. (Sources: Ontario Stroke Network,, Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada)

When you should have Critical Illness protection.

There is a very old cliché that insurance people say. The best time to get it is 10 years ago. The second-best time is now. Any time I hear this, it sounds so phony and so salesy I cringe. Here are 2 practical times to put this in place.

  1. If you have an employee benefits program that only offers Long Term Disability. Expect to start to receive benefits about 180 days after the event. Critical Illness is a great bridge until this starts.
  2. If you don’t have employee benefits. You are at the greatest risk for financial difficulties should you be diagnosed.


As with all insurance policies the cost comes down to the person’s age, gender, smoking status, overall health, and benefit amount. You should also ask about Return of Premium. This is what I have. If I am diagnosed, I receive a large amount of money tax-free. If not, at age 75 I can receive all the money back.

Does that option cost more? Yes. Is it worth it? To me, absolutely!

Please remember. When you decide to invest in a Critical Illness policy it’s important to first understand what you’re trying to accomplish.

Our Services:

Benchmark Insurance Ltd, is a niche insurance agency providing Life, Critical Illness, Long-Term Disability, and Group benefits to individuals and businesses throughout Ontario.

Insurance surveys are fun!

Seriously. I like surveys. I just did a random search “What is the purpose of a survey?” 245 million answers are available. The top response. ‘They’re used to find out what people think about a subject and why they feel that way about it.’

As the owner of an Insurance Agency, I wanted to get some answers. Here’s what I found.
·      49% had some level of understanding of insurance.
·      16% had a very good understanding of insurance.

Okay. Those aren’t great numbers. I looked further. I found these fascinating.
·      38% of Canadians perceive insurance to be too expensive.
·      27% think they are too healthy to need insurance.
·      26% think they have enough insurance through their work.

Then these.
·      6 million Canadians believe they are UNDER insured.
·      35% think they need MORE Life Insurance and intend to buy it soon.
·      Two-thirds, WITHOUT Life Insurance say they need coverage. Only 1 in 4 plan to buy it this year.

In doing this research it reminded me that a few months ago, I was talking with a couple. She said, and I quote, “I know we need insurance. We’ve never done this before. What do we do? What do we need?’

I asked. ‘What are you trying to accomplish with insurance? What do you want to have happen?’ He responded. “I just want the right thing at the right price.” I showed them this general guide. I received this several years ago from a colleague at one of the major insurance companies. I find it incredibly helpful.

Based on their ages, protecting their income, was the first thing I suggested.

Both had Long Term Disability through their work. However, it did not start until 6 months after an incident. They felt that Personal Disability coverage, to fill that gap, was too expensive. I agreed. They both felt that Critical Illness would be a great bridge.

When they took their mortgage, they declined to take mortgage insurance. They said that the mortgage broker told them that they were better off taking a Life Insurance policy instead. They were three years into the mortgage and still hadn’t taken a policy. I explained how it worked and suggest an appropriate benefit amount. They decided to take a small amount of Permanent Life coverage and make up the larger difference needed with Term Life.
I said, “that way you are protecting your needs now and in the future.”

I made one last point. Life is not static. As your needs change so too should your insurance. I’m glad I had said that because they just emailed me saying they are expecting their first child!

Congratulations Dan and Danielle! You’ll make great parents.

Benchmark Insurance Ltd, is a niche insurance agency providing Life, Critical Illness, Long-Term Disability, and Group benefits to individuals and businesses throughout Ontario.

When you decide to invest in Insurance it’s vital to understand what, you, are trying to accomplish. We help provide solutions with that one goal in mind. Please let us know how we can help. 647-955-1242


Almost every week I speak to someone whose Term Life Insurance policy is coming up for renewal. In many cases, I get this call because either the person that originally sold the policy has not kept in touch. That person has left the industry. The policy owner did not want to meet because they felt that their previous advisor only wants to sell them more insurance. Whatever the reason, the renewal means a dramatic increase in the monthly cost. Almost to a person, they say ‘Well, I’m certainly not going accept that.’

You do have options.

1.  Accept the increase in price, the same benefit amount remains as does the length of the Term. (With the increase in price this is obviously not a great choice) You can do this. Please don’t do this.

2.  Complete a new application. If you still need the same benefit amount or more, taking a new policy may be wise. This would involve a new medical examination. The pricing would be based on your current age, health situation, and benefit amount. Typically, the cost for a new policy is far less than the renewal cost. The challenge: What if your health has significantly changed to where you may not qualify for a new policy or be rated?

3.  Reduce the current benefit amount. If today, you don’t need as much protection, reducing the benefit amount, within the same policy, will generally lower your cost and you can restart a new Term period. There are no new medical examinations or tests. The challenge: In a few years you’ll be faced with the exact same situation. The policy is renewed at a higher cost.

4.  Convert some or all, of the current benefit amount to a permanent policy. Again, no new medical examinations or tests. The challenge: Because the policy is now permanent your costs will be higher. However, so long as the policy is in force, whenever you pass away, the benefit amount is paid to your beneficiaries.

A few months ago, I was speaking with a business owner that had a Term policy coming up for renewal. He wanted to drop the policy because of the increasing cost. We determined that because his health had significantly changed, he would never qualify for a new policy. He was comfortable with the cost he was currently paying. What we did was reduce the benefit amount and convert it to a permanent policy. For virtually the same cost that he had been paying for the last 10 years he, and his family, now have a permanent solution. Best of all the cost per month will never increase again!

When you decide to invest in a Life Insurance policy it’s important to understand what you’re trying to accomplish.

Our Services:

Benchmark Insurance Ltd, is a niche insurance agency providing Life, Critical Illness, Long-Term Disability, and Group benefits to individuals and businesses throughout Ontario. Please let us know how we can help. 647-955-1242


When I make decisions I like making a Pro/Con list.

Term insurance is the most popular form of protection. Generally, because, initially, it costs less for a higher benefit amount. People forget that when it renews the cost dramatically increases.

They’re also likely not told that Term is a shortened form of the word Terminating. Once you hit a certain age a Term policy will automatically end. After potentially several renewals, with ever-increasing costs, at about the time when your family may really need this money, it will either have ended or was so expensive that it was dropped long ago.

The Pros and Cons of Term Life Insurance
Pro: Higher benefit amounts to meet higher needs
Pro: The affordable option (initially)

Con: Coverage will end in the future (depending on the carrier either at age 80 or 85)
Con: No guaranteed payout
Con: Costly to renew
Con: No cash value

Whole Life Insurance (also known as Permanent Life Insurance you’ll also hear the word Universal Life) provides permanent protection. The policy never expires. If you pay your premiums, your policy is designed to have a guaranteed payout to your beneficiaries.

As the name implies, Whole Life Insurance covers you, for the rest of your life. Whole Life Insurance premiums are often fixed throughout the lifetime of the policy. There is no need to renew or renegotiate.

In addition to the guaranteed death benefit, there is an investment component to the policy. This is called the cash value or cash surrender value.

With the cash value, you can borrow against the policy if the need arises. You can use the cash value to offset your monthly cost. If there is a need, generally for business purposes, you can use a Whole Life policy as collateral for a loan. If you decide to cancel your policy before you die you can receive this money back.

Whole life insurance policies can also be used to pass on your planned inheritance to your loved ones in a very tax-efficient manner. Like all life insurance policies, the proceeds from Whole Life insurance policies are tax-free to your beneficiaries and therefore allow your dependents to retain a large chunk of the savings and assets you intended for them to have.

The Pros and Cons of Whole Life Insurance
Pro: Locked-in premiums
Pro: Guaranteed payout
Pro: Building Cash value
Pro: Can be used as collateral for a loan

Con: Cash value does not transfer (your beneficiary only receives the death benefit)
Con: It is more expensive.

This begs the question; What should you have? Depending on your situation I feel that having a combination of both is your best option. Please remember. When you decide to invest in a Life Insurance policy it’s vital to understand what you’re trying to accomplish.

Benchmark Insurance Ltd, is a niche insurance agency providing Life, Critical Illness, Long-Term Disability, and Group benefits to individuals and businesses throughout Ontario. Please let us know how we can help. 647-955-1242


Almost every week I get asked about the difference between Life Insurance and Mortgage Insurance.

The biggest difference is control of the money. With mortgage insurance should something occur, yes, the mortgage is paid off however your spouse and/or family do NOT receive any of this money. Effectively you are paying the bank or other financial institution to protect their money.

With Life Insurance, should something happen, your spouse and/or family receive ALL the money. What they decide to do with it is totally up to them. If they want to pay off the remained of the mortgage, great. If they decide to put money aside for education, investments, retirement, etc…great. The point is, THEY decide.

So, what is the right benefit amount? As a starting point, we know that you should have at least the amount owing on that large debt. Then, as written in Part 1, a percentage of the lost income of the spouse. The reason is that the normal ongoing bills continue (Property taxes, Hydro, Water, Credit Cards, etc.). Assuming that in the past the household expenses were shared, the survivor now must pay the entire amount from only their income.

Give yourself some breathing room. With the loss of a spouse and/or parent, you’re already under a lot of stress. Make sure money is not one of them.

When you decide to invest in a Life Insurance policy it’s important to understand what you’re trying to accomplish. If you want to make insurance work for you, we’re happy to help.

Benchmark Insurance Ltd, is a niche insurance agency providing Life, Critical Illness, Long-Term Disability, and Group benefits to individuals and businesses throughout Ontario. Please let us know how we can help. 647-955-1242


Education and research are two key elements in any decision. Most people know they need Life Insurance. Generally, the reason is to protect a spouse and/or children should the worst happen. You want to make sure that they continue to live in the world you’ve created.

Where I find people struggling is with the amount needed and the length of the term if that is the route they choose.

For the amount, I advise clients to not look at it as Life Insurance. Instead, look at it as an income replacement for your family. As an example, using simple math; if your income is $100,000 per year, over a 10-year period, that is a total of $1 million. $1 million dollars that your family would not be receiving if you passed away.

For the length of the term, if applicable, I sometimes equate that to the age of your children. For example. If you have a child that is 2 years old, the next 20 years are vitally important to them should something happen to you. A 20-Year Term Life Insurance policy may be the best option. You can lock in the price now knowing that it will stay the same each month for the next 20 years.

By the same token, if the child is 12, you may want to consider a 10-year Term. The thinking is that by the time the child reaches age 22, in my example, they have likely finished school, are working, and are able to support themselves.

If children aren’t involved Term Insurance is still the preferred option to cover a large debt like a mortgage, line of credit, or loan. Term Life Insurance is the most economical form of protection. You can get a higher benefit amount at a lower cost for a defined period of time.
Is Term Insurance your best option? Maybe. Maybe not. When you decide to invest in Insurance it’s vital to understand what, you, are trying to accomplish. We help provide solutions with that one goal in mind.

Our Services:

Benchmark Insurance Ltd, is a niche insurance agency providing Life, Critical Illness, Long-Term Disability, and Group benefits to individuals and businesses throughout Ontario. Please let us know how we can help. 647-955-1242

Here are 10 ways you can use Life Insurance.

  1. Providing for your dependants. This is the primary reason why people have a Life Insurance policy. If you suddenly pass away the loss of your income would/could create a financial hardship for your family. Life Insurance fills that gap.

  2. Funding for a specific purpose. With Life Insurance, when you receive the money, you have complete control over what you want to do with it. Do you want to set this aside for a child’s education? Do you want to use it to cover the cost of a funeral and the other fees associated with this? For you to have the necessary funds available so that you’re not put in a position where you have to sell your home or investments because you can no longer afford to live there.

  3. Building a retirement savings. Since I was little, I was always told to put some money aside for retirement. The mantra was ‘it’s coming faster than you think.’ The reality, for a lot of people, is that life gets in the way. With proper planning it’s possible to accumulate investments inside a life Insurance policy on a tax-sheltered basis and to then access these funds in retirement. You can do this by either making withdrawals from the policy or borrowing against the policy using it as collateral for the loan.

  4. Equalizing an inheritance. I’ve had the good fortune of meeting many successful business owners. In a lot of cases their children want to continue with the business they’ve built. In many cases the children want nothing to do with the business. Using the funds from Life Insurance allows you to make sure that your children are all treated fairly from a financial standpoint. This just takes proper planning.

  5. Paid off your debts, in particular Tax debts. Having available money from a Life Insurance policy ensures that your personal or business debts are paid of when you pass away. If you don’t look after these, creditors, including the Canada Revenue Agency in the case of tax debts, may go after any asset that you leave to your heirs.

  6. Covering taxes owing. By working with your accountant (if you need a referral, I know a great firm) they should be able to calculate the taxes owing upon your death and your spouse’s death. As you’re probably aware, if you or your spouse are leaving assets to each other upon death, then taxes are deferred until the second spouse dies. When those assets go to the next generation, that is the moment when taxes rear their ugly heads.

  7. Eliminating taxes at death. With proper planning you could, for example, insure the lives of your children. This will allow you to accumulate investments in those policies. You can then transfer ownership of the policies to your adult children tax-free upon your death, or at any time for that matter. Transferring investments might otherwise be taxable if they were outside of a policy.

  8. Donating to Charity. You can make a significant donation to your favourite charity when you pass away. You could name a charity as the beneficiary, transfer ownership of a policy to a charity, have your estate donate the insurance proceeds or buy a policy specifically for a charity. The benefits of this are numerous. First and foremost is you are helping an organization that you truly care about. The second is how it will help you. When you give this to a charity the charity will then issue a charitable receipt to your estate. You can then use this receipt for your final tax return, potentially lowering the amount of taxes to be paid. This just takes proper planning.

  9. Funding a buy-sell agreement. Many shareholder agreements facilitate a surviving business partner buying out the deceased partner’s share upon death. It always amazes me how many business partners have a partnership/shareholder agreement on paper but have not put a funding tool in place. I’ve had business owners tell me that if one passes away that they will pay out what is owed from the on-going business cash flow. There are multiple challenges with this. Is the company in a financial situation to be able to afford this, not only today but for however long is needed? This may take needed cash flow away from the company for its day-to-day operation, potential expansion, or potential acquisition of another business. The larger challenge is this. Normally, upon death, the shares of a business go to the spouse and/or children. The remaining partner now has a “new” partner in the business whether they like it or not. Someone, or multiple people, that may not have contributed to the growth of the business now have a say in the operation. Having a Life Insurance policy, that is used to purchase the shares and redeem them back to the company, is the quickest, cleanest way of doing this. The company pays the money to the spouse and/or children. They in turn return the shares to the company. The company can then either sell those shares to the remaining partner(s) or sell them to a brand-new partner. For, literally, pennies on the dollar the surviving business owner can save a mountain of headaches.

  10. Providing Key-Person protection. Who is or are the key people in the operation of your business? There is a business that I work with where there is one, majority owning partner, that drives all revenue yet there are three minority partners that do not contribute to any on-going revenue. If that Key-Person were to die it would obviously have a negative impact to the business. By installing a Key-Person life insurance policy (so that you are aware this is just a normal Life Insurance policy the difference is who will be the beneficiaries) the business will receive the insurance proceeds. At that point the remaining partners have several options. They can be made whole from their initial investment. The family of the Key-Person is made whole by redeeming the shares for the fair market value. If the partners, spouse and/or children are in agreement, they can find a new Key-Person to carry on with the business.

10 Ways to Start the Insurance Discussion

Dr. Barnard said, “I was used to operating on people and boasting about my great results of patients surviving five or six years. But all of a sudden, I saw the social and financial implications. I knew nothing about insurance, but I knew life insurance paid out on the diagnosis of death. But to me, my patients lived for years but in this time they died financially.”

Dr. Barnard recognized that his patients, although able to survive were sometimes unable to return to work at full capacity. The lingering effects of their illnesses, surgeries, medication, and recovery had an enormous impact on their ability to earn an income. Though they survived, they were overcome with financial hardship. They were no longer able to fully support themselves and their family.

For Rob, when he was diagnosed, he was given 6 months. He lasted 18 months.

The best solution that I found was through Insurance. Now, some people detest Insurance, others totally want as much as they can get, but most people, simply don’t understand what they need or more importantly, why they need it. So, here are 10 ways to start that very important conversation.

10 Ways to Start the Insurance Discussion…

  1. Have you ever wondered how long you could live on your savings?

  2. Have you insured your most valuable asset for your family? YOU!

  3. Do you want your family to keep living in the world you’ve created for them?

  4. What do you want to happen to your family when you are no longer here to take care of them?

  5. If life insurance were free, how much would you take?

  6. Do you know anyone whose family benefitted from life, disability, or critical illness Insurance?

  7. Do you own your life insurance personally or through someone else? Like the company you work for? If so, then you don’t own or control it.

  8. What’s the most cost-effective way to pay for final expenses?

  9. How have you funded your will?

  10. When they need it would you rather your family have too much insurance or too little?

Adulting (No pressure)

While “adulting” is a relatively new word the concept is anything but. Regardless of your age necessary tasks are still necessary tasks.

One of the most important parts of “Adulting” is improving your financial situation. I’m sure we can all agree that paying down debt, building an emergency fund, investing for your future be it Stocks, TFSA, RRSP, all are important. The one piece of this puzzle that is overlooked is Life Insurance. It is the key that unlocks the others. When it comes to Life Insurance it’s been my experience that people will be in one of three categories. Mathematically it works out to be an almost 20-20-60 split.

  1. 20% of people, regardless of what is said, presented, or demonstrated, are not interested in insurance. The reason varies but I think it may come down to a lack of trust.

  2.  20% of people totally understand and believe in insurance. They’ve personally seen or have experienced the benefit of having insurance. Their reason varies but I think this segment comes down to a total amount of trust.

  3. 60% of people know that they should have insurance. They understand why  it is important, but past experiences have put them off. The reason varies but I think this comes down to not having someone take the time to explain things. To answer their questions. To guide them through the process. More likely, someone in the past rushed or made them feel pressured to buy.

On this last sentence I have said this to clients and if I’m lucky enough to work with you in the future I will say it to you. I am a no pressure type person. If what we discuss makes sense, great. If not, that’s okay too. One of my newer clients recently wrote this.

“I am quite a long time customer and I phoned to speak to my contact there, and she is away on maternity leave. Anyway, my luck, I got to speak to Blair, I’ve got to say how wonderful a person he is. And I want you to know if all your employees are like him WOW! He is something special. He talked to me and he made me feel that I was worth speaking with. He didn’t try to rush me, we discussed things and I wanted advice and prices. I got everything and more than I expected. I appreciate Blair, he was wonderful”

My new friend Elsie moved from category 3 to category 2. I’m happy that she and her family are now protected. I feel that she is happy because as always, I take the time to listen.