A lot of single women are concerned about outliving their money. Longevity, however, isn’t the only drag on their assets. Sudden illness or injury could severely impact earnings and unravel savings. The blow can be especially severe for singles with no buffer during such times. That’s why disability, critical illness and long-term-care (LTC) insurance are such crucial cogs in planning for singles.
According to Kim Dewar, portfolio manager at Odlum Brown Limited, disability insurance is an obvious priority for younger working women; LTC makes more sense for older retired women. Older women who own a home could sell it to fund care, but Dewar says most people want to stay at home as long as they can, and LTC makes that possible.
Insurance, however, doesn’t come cheap. “You have to look at cash flow and then prioritize,” says Anna Nemeth, VP and Senior Portfolio Manager, TD Waterhouse Private Investment Counsel Inc. “While you’re working, disability insurance is key, whether you get it as a group plan or individually. If there’s surplus money, it could be used to buy critical illness and long term care.”
For clients in a business partnership, it’s important to discuss insurance needs from both a personal and business perspective. “Anyone in a business partnership needs to account for what happens if one of the partners gets sick or dies prematurely,” says Kristi Buchanan, an advisor with Sun Life Financial.
According to Nemeth, life insurance isn’t paramount for singles with no dependents — unless they have a massive mortgage or wish to leave a legacy.
More often than not, single women are the default caregivers of aging parents. That too could be a huge financial drain. Nancy Graham, portfolio manager at PWL Capital Inc., underscores the importance of having discussions early on with parents around the state of their insurance policies and assets. “Many times it would surprise you how much of the financial burden they can bear. But if you don’t ask while their faculties are still sound, you’d never know.”
Bev Moir, Senior Wealth Advisor, ScotiaMcLeod, suggests an insurance strategy that can double up as a tax-advantaged long-term saving vehicle. It involves buying a permanent life insurance policy (the client has to qualify medically, and be insurable) and paying more than the annual cost of the insurance. The over-payment is invested in a tax-sheltered account and grows in value until the owner decides to tap into it for income at a later stage, such as retirement.
The insurance policy is never cancelled while the money is being withdrawn, but is used as collateral to take a tax-free loan. That means the death benefit of the policy exists for the beneficiaries. It’s an effective way to get tax-free income and leave a legacy. It’s also very efficient in estate settlement.