Glossary of Terms




Accidental death and dismemberment: A supplementary benefit rider designed to pay benefits in the event of death or the loss of a limb or sight caused by an unintended, unforeseen, and unexpected event. Also known as AD&D.

Accident and sickness insurance: Offered by private (non-government) companies to cover expenses in excess of provincial coverage or those not covered in provincial plans such as prescription drugs and certain hospital benefits. Also known as A&S insurance.

Agent: An individual provincially licensed to solicit and sell insurance, deliver policies, or collect premiums on behalf of an insurance company.

Annuitant: One to whom an annuity is payable or a person upon whose life the continuance of further payment depends. Also, one who owns an RRSP.

Annuity: A series of income payments or receipts made at regular intervals such as yearly, or for just a specified period, during the lifetime of one or more persons.

Any occupation: A definition of total disability where benefits are paid provided the insured cannot work at any sort of employment to which he or she is suited based on education and experience.

Assuris: Founded in 1990, Assuris is the not for profit organization that protects Canadian policyholders in the event that their life insurance company should fail. Their role is to protect policyholders by minimizing the loss of benefits and ensuring a quick transfer of their policies to a solvent company, where their benefits will continue to be honoured.  A life insurance company authorized to sell insurance policies in Canada is required, by the federal, provincial and territorial regulators, to become a member of Assuris.  Assuris is funded by the life insurance industry and endorsed by government. There is no cost to policyholders for Assuris’ protection.

Assignment – A legal transference that a policy holder can make to pass on his interest to another person. It can be made either by an endorsement on the policy, or as a separate deed.

Attending physician’s statement: A requested report based on information contained in the submitted application and prepared by an applicant’s physician, which provides information about the life to be insured. Also known as APS.



Beneficiary: The designated person who receives the remainder of an annuity if the annuitant dies, or the death benefit proceeds should the life insured die while the policy is in force.

Benefit period: The maximum length of time over which money or a right to the insured will be given for any one accident or illness resulting in disability.

Bond: An investment product representing funds loaned from investors, promising regular interest payments and the return of the principal amount invested upon maturity. It is secured by specific assets and is issued by government bodies or corporations.

Broker: An independent businessperson who may solicit and service life insurance contracts issued by any number of insurance companies.



Canada Pension Plan: A federally sponsored retirement program designed to provide retirement benefits, disability benefits, survivor benefits and death benefits. Individuals usually purchase additional insurance to supplement these benefits. Also known as CPP.

Canada Savings Bond: A low-risk bond issued by the Government of Canada that does not trade in the secondary market and is therefore not subject to fluctuations in value. Interest is paid at regular intervals and redemption is possible on demand, triggering neither capital gains nor losses. Also known as CSB.

Canadian Life and Health Insurance Association: An association composed of Canadian life insurance companies, responsible for the formation of industry guidelines that are recognized in the Insurance Act and followed universally. Also known as the CHLIA.

Capital gains: The excess of the proceeds from the sale of an asset owned for growth or income production, over its cost, less expenses incurred in connection with the sale.

Cash surrender value: The amount returned to the policy owner when a whole life insurance policy is cancelled. It is equal to the value of the policy reserve less any surrender charges imposed by the insurer. Also known as CSV.

Claimant: One who submits a request or demand for payment of benefits for a suffered loss, according to the provisions of the insurance policy.

Claims: A request or demand on an insurer for payment of benefits according to the provisions of a policy. Subject to statutory provisions in A&S situations.

Commutation of benefits: The payment in one lump sum of the present value, at a point in time, of all remaining annuity payments. Frequently an option exercised by the beneficiary of an annuity with a guaranteed minimum term.

Concurrent disability: When disability results from more than one injury or sickness, benefits will be paid for only one cause of disability at any one time. Benefits on one disability will be paid until the end of either the disability or the benefit period, and will then commence on another.

Conditional delivery: An insurer accepts an applicant for insurance but issues the policy with requirements for the policyowner to fulfill before the policy will be put in force. Common conditions include payment of premiums and signatures on various documents.

Contingent beneficiary: A secondary beneficiary who receives the policy proceeds, upon the death of the insured, if the primary beneficiary dies before the insured. This prevents the proceeds from passing to the estate of the primary beneficiary.

Convertible term insurance: Gives the policyowner the option to convert term insurance to a form of permanent insurance, generally whole life insurance, without providing evidence of insurability.

Cost of Insurance (COI): Cost of Insurance refers to the guaranteed monthly rate per thousand used to calculate the Insurance Charge for each universal life coverage. There are three Cost of Insurance structures but only one may be chosen for a policy.

Cost of living adjustment: A disability insurance rider where the insurer adjusts the monthly benefit paid, usually annually, to keep pace with inflation. Insurers usually use an indicator such as the Consumer Price Index (CPI) when determining how the payment should be modified. Also known as a COLA rider.

Critical illness insurance: A policy that pays a tax-free lump sum benefit if the insured is diagnosed with a specific disease or condition such as a heart attack or cancer. It is designed to help individuals meet their financial needs while recovering from a life-altering illness.



Death benefit: The sum payable to the beneficiary as the result of the death of the life insured.

Deferred annuity: An annuity where payments do not commence until some date at least one year in the future. Meanwhile, capital paid accumulates with investment income.

Deferred sales charges: Redemption charges paid on mutual and segregated funds, paid as a percentage of either the original purchase price or market value, that decline the longer the funds are held.

Demutualization: The process by which a mutual life insurance company converts to a stock insurance company. Each policyowner becomes a shareholder and receives common shares.

Disability insurance: An individual or group insurance policy that provides monthly benefits if the insured is unable to work due to accident, sickness, or mental illness and, consequently, suffers a loss of earned income.

Dividend: In Insurance, a partial refund of premiums in a participating whole life insurance policy calculated as the excess of the actual return on the policy reserve over the guaranteed rate. It means the insurer paid out less in death benefits and operating costs, and received higher investment returns than expected. In investment, a discretionary payment by a corporation to its shareholders out of retained earnings, in proportion to the number of shares owned.



Elimination period: The length of time the insured must be disabled before disability benefits are payable. The intention is that the insured bears some of the loss. The longer this period, the lower the premium charged.

Extended health plan: A typical group extended health care (EHC) plan or extended health benefit (EHB) plan covers services that are not covered under a provincial health care plan, or supplements the cost of those that are. Actual services and degree of coverage under the plan vary significantly between insurance companies.



Face value: The amount stipulated in the insurance contract when initially applied for, to be paid out upon the death of the life insured. Also known as face amount or initial face amount.

Fixed annuity: An annuity, either term or life, indexed or non-indexed, with the amounts of payments based on a specific interest rate determined at the time of purchase.

Fraternal benefit society: An organization, run on a not-for-profit basis, without capital stock, that provides benefits for individuals and their families having a common link such as occupation, charitable purpose, or religion.



Grace period: A window during which a policy will remain in force even though the periodic premium has not been paid when due. 30 days is mandatory, but many policies offer a longer period.

Group accident & sickness insurance: A form of group insurance. It provides personal coverage for health services, either not covered by provincial health insurance plans, or that enhance existing provincial plans. Coverage is for each group member but premiums are priced on an aggregate basis for all group members.

Group disability insurance: A form of group insurance that provides regular income replacement payments to an insured member of the group in the event of an eligible disability resulting from illness or injury. Coverage is generally short-term disability (STD) or long-term disability (LTD).

Group insurance: Personal insurance (life, disability, or A&S) that covers the lives of a group of persons and their dependents who have some common association, such as employees of the same company or profession. Premiums are often lower than individual policies because risk is spread over the group.

Group life insurance: Personal life insurance coverage available to group members under a policy issued to the policyowner or the group. Basic coverage is usually available without a medical examination and the premiums charged are based on the average age and sex of all members of the group.

Group term life: A form of group life insurance where the benefits, usually a multiple of the employee’s salary, are guaranteed for only one year, renewable each year. Unlike straight term insurance, the premium rate is not determined in advance but upon renewal, based upon the average age and gender of the group.

Guaranteed insurability benefit: A rider that gives the policyowner the right to purchase additional life or disability insurance, up to a specified amount, without evidence of insurability. The frequency and timing of exercising this right may be limited. It guarantees the price of future coverage even if the health of the life insured has deteriorated since the policy started. Also known as a GIB rider.

Guaranteed investment certificate: A registered or non-registered interest bearing loan to a bank or trust company for a specified but renewable term of 1 to 5 years. Interest accrues at a specified rate based on the prevailing market rate and is fixed for the term, as are rules for redemption. Also known as GIC.

Guaranteed non-cancelable: A type of insurance policy where an insurer may neither terminate the contract (except due to non-payment of premiums), nor change any of the policy provisions, definitions, coverage, or premiums during the policy term. The insured may request cancellation at any time.

Guaranteed renewable: Similar to guaranteed non-cancelable insurance policies with the exception that although premiums charged may not change on an individual basis, the insurer may change the amount payable for an entire class of insured people.



Income funds: Mutual funds that provide a regular stream of income to the investor, either received in cash or reinvested in the fund. Funds in this category invest in fixed income securities like bonds and mortgages. Generally considered less risky than growth funds. Suitable for investors who require a steady stream of income or who have a moderate tolerance for risk.

Incontestability: A statutory provision for insurance where, after the expiry of a two-year period since its issue, the insurer cannot void a policy if a policyowner withheld or misrepresented a material fact, intentionally or by accident. The policy can only be rendered void if the policyowner committed fraud.

Index: A statistical indicator providing a representation of the value of the securities which constitute it. It often serves as a barometer for a given market or industry, and as a benchmark against which financial or economic performance is measured.

Index funds: A mutual fund that attempts to match its portfolio to a specific financial market index. Returns on the fund then fluctuate in tandem with the chosen benchmark index.

Index-linked GIC: A guaranteed investment certificate that links its returns to the cumulative market returns of a specified stock index or equity mutual fund. Return of principal is guaranteed but instead of earning a specific rate of interest, returns are equal to that of its benchmark index.

Indexed annuity: An annuity that provides for increasing payments over time, to keep pace with the cost of living. The increase can be a fixed percentage each year or it may be tied to an indicator like the Consumer Price Index (CPI).

Individual variable insurance contract: A deferred annuity contract between a policyowner and a life insurance company whereby the policyowner makes deposits and the insurance company invests them in segregated funds. Returns and benefits are not guaranteed. The value of the contract is tied to the value of the segregated fund portfolio. Also known as an IVIC.

Inflation risk: The chance that the real purchasing power of money invested will be reduced by a rise in the general level of prices.

Insolvency: The inability of an insurance company to meet its financial obligations as they come due in the ordinary course of business. Policyowners are offered some protection from its effects through Assuris.

Inspection report: A supplement to a submitted application, based on an interview with the client, that attempts to corroborate financial information provided on the application, to help ensure the coverage applied for is justified.

Insurability: An element in the underwriting process. An assessment as to whether the applicant is an acceptable risk based on factors such as health status and participation in hazardous activities.

Insurable interest: The requirement that an applicant has a reasonable expectation of benefiting from the continuation of another’s life or of suffering an economic loss if the life insured dies. It verifies the reason for the application is legitimate and not simply a wager on someone’s life. One may have an insurable interest in oneself.

Insurance: Protection, through the payment of money as compensation or reimbursement for financial loss, provided by written contract, against the occurrence of specified chance or unexpected events.

Insurance Companies Act: Federal legislation that governs federally-registered insurance companies and all foreign insurance providers operating in Canada. Concerned mainly with regular submission of financial statements, regulating investment activities, and the protection of policyowners.

Insured: The individual or group covered by the contract of insurance.

Insurer: The company that issues the insurance policy and assumes the risks associated with the insured.

Inter vivos trust: A trust created to take effect during the lifetime of the grantor (the person who transfers property to the trustee). Examples include mutual funds and segregated funds. For taxation purposes, income flows directly from the fund to the policyowner and taxed in his or her hands. Also known as a living trust.

Interest rate risk: The chance that interest rate levels will affect the value of certain investment products, such as fixed income investments.

Irrevocable beneficiary: A provision where a policyowner relinquishes the ability to exercise certain rights unilaterally like changing the beneficiary, surrendering the policy for its cash value, or assigning the policy to a third party. Such changes require the beneficiary’s permission. A common provision in separation and divorce proceedings.



Joint and last survivor annuity: An annuity paid for as long as the annuitant lives, and continued in whole or in part after his or her death, for the lifetime of a named survivor or contingent annuitant.

Joint and last to die policy: A contract that covers two or more lives and pays death benefits only when the last of the lives insured dies. Useful for mitigating the tax incurred when a remaining spouse’s estate is taxed.

Joint First to die: A contract that covers two or more lives and pays a death benefit only on the first death of the lives insured.



Level cost of insurance: In a universal life policy, the deductions from the investment account to cover mortality costs remain the same if based on term-100. The policyowner can keep the policy alive by making regular payments equal to the mortality costs. Also known as Level COI.

Level term life insurance: Death benefits and premiums remain the same over the term specified. A disproportionately high percentage of mortality costs are paid in the early years of the policy, while in later years, the policyowner underpays and is not burdened with the full cost of mortality.

Leveraging: When an individual obtains funds by borrowing from a bank, using a universal life policy as collateral. Potentially more tax advantageous than an early withdrawal. Interest on the loan accrues against the cash surrender value of the policy and the loan is not repaid until the policy is cancelled or the life insured dies.

Life annuity: A series of regular and periodic payments to the annuitant for his or her lifetime, regardless of length, but with no provision for payment after death.

Life insurance: Provides coverage where the risk insured against is the death of a particular person (the life insured). Upon the death of the life insured, while the policy is in force, the insurance company (the insurer) will pay the death benefit to the beneficiary named in the insurance policy.

Life insured: The person upon whose death the benefit of the life insurance becomes payable.

Lifetime benefits: A rider that extends the benefit period for total disability to the claimant’s lifetime, whereas standard disability benefits end at age 65.

Limited payment amendment: An addition to a disability policy that restricts benefits if the disability results from specified pre-existing conditions. Generally limited to two or five years.

Liquidity: The ability of an investment to be readily converted into cash.

Liquidity risk: The chance that an investment will not be readily convertible to cash due to specific selling restrictions or a shortage of potential buyers.

Long-term care insurance: Coverage for care needed when a policyowner suffers a debilitating illness or injury that renders the individual unable to perform activities of daily living (ADLs). Created in response to the high health care costs for the aged and a useful complement to accumulated retirement funds. Commonly structured like a guaranteed renewable disability policy with 5-year level premiums.

Long-term care rider: Pays a benefit if the life insured requires care at home or at a facility such as a nursing home provided he or she is unable to perform at least two activities of daily living (ADLs) or requires continual supervision due to deteriorated mental abilities.

Long-term disability insurance: Typically provides coverage for 2 years, 5 years, or to the claimant’s age 65. Often pays a lower level of benefits than short-term disability coverage (STD). Benefits usually commence when STD benefits end, according to total disability as defined in the policy. Also known as LTD insurance.



Management expense ratio: A standardized measure that expresses the costs of a fund as a percentage of its average net asset value during the fiscal year. An indication of what percentage of each dollar of fund assets pays for management services. Also known as MER.

Management fee: The amount a mutual fund pays for administration of the fund and supervision of the portfolio. The investor does not pay the fee directly but feels its effects because rate of return is reported net of this amount.

Marginal tax rate: The tax rate, expressed as a percentage, one pays on the next dollar of taxable income earned. In a progressive tax system this rate will be equal to or higher than the average tax rate (ATR) paid on the person’s entire income, since the tax rate is lower for the first dollars of income than for subsequent dollars. Also known as MTR.

Market risk: The chance that variations in the stock market caused by economic, political, or social factors will affect the value of an investment product.

Market value adjustment: For IVICs invested in term deposits, a modification to the agreement when a contract owner makes an early withdrawal in excess of the yearly allowable 10% of fair market value. The interest rate paid on deposit is changed to reflect more accurately the return an investor is entitled to, based on the length of time funds are left on deposit.

Material fact: Vital information that by its inclusion or omission, would affect any part of an underwriting decision such as insurability, premium rate, benefits, exclusions, or limitations.

Material misrepresentation: Information that is omitted or included incorrectly that would have influenced the insurability of an applicant. Detection of such information within a two-year period since contract formation gives the insurer the right to void the policy or deny a claim.

Maturity date: The date on which a debt becomes due for payment. In an IVIC, the date generally ten years from the initial investment date or the reset date. Also known as the deposit maturity date.

Maturity guarantee: A promise from the insurance company that when an IVIC matures after at least ten years, the investor will receive the higher of the market value of the segregated fund or the statutory 75% of the principal investment. It makes no promise for amounts withdrawn prior to the maturity date or that the investment will appreciate in value.

Medical Information Bureau: A non-profit trade association that provides a means for member insurance companies to share medical and other information about an applicant that may be pertinent to an underwriting decision. This pooling of information makes it more difficult for applicants to defraud insurers. Also known as MIB.

Misstatement of age: Providing an incorrect age of the life insured in a life insurance policy. The death benefit is adjusted to reflect the amount of insurance the premiums paid would have purchased had the policy been issued using the correct age of the life insured. Under the Insurance Act, the contract is not void.

Misstatement of sex: Providing the incorrect gender of the life insured in a life insurance policy. The death benefit is adjusted to reflect the amount of insurance the premiums paid would have purchased had the policy been issued using the correct gender of the life insured. Under the Insurance Act, the contract is not void.

Morbidity rate: The expected incidence of illness or disability of individuals in a given class.

Mortality cost: The actual cost to the insurance company of the risk that the life insured might die during a given policy year. The cost of life insurance net of administration costs.

Mortality rate: The expected incidence of death of individuals in a given class.

Mortality tables: A listing of the mortality experience of individuals by sex and age.

Multiple life annuity: An annuity that is payable to more than one person during their joint lifetimes. Payments either cease when either of them dies (joint annuity), or continue until the last remaining annuitant dies (joint and last survivor annuity).

Mutual fund: A financial product that pools investor deposits and invests in a diversified portfolio of securities run by a professional manager. Units are issued, whose value fluctuates with the experience of its portfolio.



Net asset value per share: A value that represents the price at which segregated fund and mutual fund units are bought and sold on any particular day. An assessment of all the fund’s assets minus liabilities, divided by the number of units outstanding. Also known as NAVPS.

Net investment return: The increase in value of an investment, expressed as a percentage per year, that remains when one accounts for items such as inflation and taxes.

Nominal return: The increase in value of an investment, expressed as a percentage per year, that ignores items such as inflation or taxes.

Non-cancelable: The policy cannot be terminated by the insurer, except for non-payment of premiums beyond the grace period.

Non-contributory plan: In group insurance, a policy where the group policyowner (usually an employer) pays 100% of the premiums, with no contributions from the group members. Common for group medical plans because of favorable tax implications for all parties.

Non-forfeiture benefits: In permanent life insurance policies, those values that the policyowner does not forfeit even for nonpayment of premiums. Typically non-forfeiture benefits include cash surrender value, automatic premium loan, reduced paid-up insurance, and extended term insurance. Not available in term insurance.

Non-indexed annuity: An annuity that does not provide for a periodic increase in payments as either a fixed percentage or related to a leading indicator such as the Consumer Price Index (CPI).

Non-participating policies: Life insurance policies where policyowners do not assume any risk for an insurer’s shortfall if collected premiums and returns on investment are insufficient to meet mortality costs and expenses. Nor do policyowners share in the surpluses from favorable experience in these areas by receiving dividends. In exchange, the death benefits, cash values, and premiums are guaranteed for the life of the contract.

Non-refundable tax credit: A tax credit that one can only receive if taxable income is sufficiently high to be offset by the credit.

Non-registered funds: Amounts held outside, and receiving different tax treatment than, registered plans. See Registered funds.

Non-renewable: Term insurance that cannot be continued after the term of the contract has expired. Instead, the policy expires without value. Should the insured wish to seek further coverage, he or she would be required to prove insurability based on his or her attained age.



Occupational risk: A factor in underwriting for disability insurance. Includes not only physical risks or inherent danger in a form of employment, but also the risk that illness or injury would have lasting effect on claimant’s ability to work.

Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions: A federal institution whose mandate is to assist in the development and interpretation of legislation relating to financial institutions. Responsible for assessing the solvency of insurance companies and for using its authority to protect policyowner interests.

Open-end fund: A type of mutual fund bought and sold directly through the fund company, whose total number of outstanding units changes frequently due to investors’ ability to buy and sell units on demand. The majority of mutual funds are open-end funds.

Optional group life: Insurance available to an employee to supplement the basic life insurance provided under a group plan. The extent of additional coverage, usually in multiples of a base unit, is up to the individual. The group member is subject to a medical questionnaire and pays all the additional premiums.

Optional sales charges: Commissions paid on mutual and segregated funds either when funds are purchased or redeemed, at the choice of the unitholder, based on the unitholder’s time horizon for the investment.

Own occupation: A definition of total disability where benefits will be paid if the claimant is unable to perform the important duties of his or her original employment. A claimant can pursue a new occupation and continue to collect benefits.



Paid-up additions rider: An addition to whole life insurance policies that permits the policyowner to purchase additional coverage proportional to the amount of extra premiums deposited. Purchases can be made on a periodic basis but the option terminates if not used regularly.

Partial disability: A benefit that, if included in disability insurance policies, pays a reduced monthly income if the insured suddenly cannot work full time or is prevented from performing one or more important daily duties of his or her occupation. Claimant need not be totally disabled for a period of time before collecting partial benefits.

Participating policies: Life insurance policies where, in cases of a favourable experience with investment returns, mortality costs, and expenses, the insurer shares those surpluses with policyowners in the form of dividends.

Permanent life insurance: A policy that provides coverage for the entire life insured rather than for a specific term. Requires payment of premiums in excess of actual mortality costs in early years and the accumulation of a policy reserve. Types include whole life, term-100, and universal life.

Policy: The written agreement between insurer and policyowner containing the schedule of benefits, contract specifications, a premium schedule, provisions describing benefits and procedures in various circumstances, limitations and exclusions, and amendments or riders.

Policy limitations: Contractual restrictions upon the rights and benefits of the policyowner, such as exceptions to coverage or the maximum amount of a benefit payable for a given situation or occurrence. A means to reduce premiums by restricting the risks covered by the policy.

Policy loan: An amount an insurer lends to a policyowner, assigning the policy’s cash surrender value (CSV) as collateral, up to a specified percentage. Upon termination of the policy or death of the life insured, the CSV or death benefit is reduced by the outstanding amount, plus accrued interest charges.

Policy provisions: Promises and contractual obligations, either mandatory or optional, of both the insurer and policyowner contained in the insurance agreement.

Policy reserve fund: In permanent life insurance, a fund created by the policyowner’s premiums that accumulates over the policy’s life to cover the insurer’s mortality costs and expenses. Premiums exceed these costs in the early years to allow sufficient accumulation for meeting higher costs in later years. Also known as an accumulating fund in the Income Tax Act.

Policyowner: The person who enters into a contract with the insurer and who may exercise all rights in the insurance policy. In a life insurance contract, he or she may or may not be the life insured. Also known as the policyholder.

Portfolio manager: Responsible for the investment decisions in a mutual or segregated fund including purchasing and selling securities and determining the asset mix. Decisions are guided by the objectives of the particular fund and his or her related expertise.

Pre-disability monthly earnings: An individual’s income prior to incurring a disability. Used to determine the proportionate loss of income for calculating proportionate residual disability benefits. Also known as PDME.

Pre-existing condition: An injury, sickness, or physical condition that exists prior to the insured applying for disability or A&S coverage. The condition may be excluded from the coverage or a limitation added to the policy relating specifically to it.

Preferred beneficiary clause: Applies to pre-1962 policies. If the named beneficiary is a close family member of the policyowner, a trust is automatically deemed to exist for the benefit of the beneficiary. The benefits of this trust cannot be taken away by the policyowner or his creditors. Exercise of the normal rights associated with an insurance policy is conditional on the beneficiary’s permission.

Preferred share: Capital stock providing a fixed, non-fluctuating dividend that is paid before any dividend is paid on common shares, and which subordinates common shares in cases of insolvency. It represents partial ownership in a company, but does not contain the same voting rights as common shares.

Premium: The periodic payment that is required to keep an insurance policy in force. The cost of an insurance policy to a policyowner is the sum of these amounts over the years.

Premium offset policy: A participating policy designed so that after a certain number of years the policy dividend paid is sufficient to offset the payment due from the policyowner to keep the policy in force. From that point onwards, the policyowner need no longer make this payment. Also known as a vanishing premium policy.

Premium taxes: Taxes levied by the provinces as a percentage of deposits to life and disability insurance policies (typically 2%), collected and remitted by the insurance company. Deposits to annuities are not similarly taxed.

Prescribed rate annuity: A non-registered annuity where taxes are paid on an equal interest amount each year. By reducing the amount of tax paid in earlier years it offers both a tax-deferral mechanism and a more level source of after-tax income. It must satisfy certain requirements to qualify for special consideration under the Income Tax Act.

Presumptive total disability provision: Provides that the insured will be assumed totally disabled if he or she suffers a specified loss, even if he or she continues to work. These losses often include permanent loss of sight, loss of hands and feet, or loss of speech.

Primary beneficiary: The person who receives the benefits of an insurance contract if still alive when the insured dies, and the policy is still in force. See contingent beneficiary.

Probate fees: Court fees levied by each province, excluding Quebec, as part of the process of validating the will of the deceased.

Probationary period: In group insurance, the length of time a new employee must wait before becoming eligible for coverage. Often matches the period an employer waits before conferring permanent status on an employee. Also known as the waiting period.

Progressive tax system: Canada’s method of taxation whereby the higher an individual’s taxable income, the higher the percentage of that income paid in tax.



Qualification period: The number of days of total disability that must elapse during a benefit period before a claimant can receive partial or residual disability benefits. Designed to prevent claims being made, in the absence of a partial disability clause, on the basis of deteriorating health.



Rated policy: Insurance issued to a person who is a substandard risk at a premium rate that is higher than that charged for a standard risk. Can be changed to a standard policy if the condition that gave rise to a substandard risk has changed favourably.

Real return: The increase in value of an investment, expressed as a percentage per year, adjusted for changes in inflation.

Recurrent disability: A disability resulting from the same or related cause of a prior disability that reappears within a specified period of time. If provision is made in a policy, disability payments resume without the claimant satisfying a new elimination period.

Reduced paid-up insurance: A non-forfeiture clause in a permanent life insurance policy where the policyowner elects to buy a policy for 5% to 80% of the original face value with the cash surrender value (CSV), depending on how long the policy has existed, and pays no more premiums. This guarantees a future death benefit, albeit for a proportionately smaller amount.

Refundable tax credit: A tax credit that one receives regardless of taxable income. It is therefore possible to receive a tax refund even if taxable income is zero.

Registered funds: Amounts invested in federally-sponsored plans up to specified limits and subject to certain conditions to qualify for favourable treatment under the Income Tax Act.

Regular occupation: A definition of total disability where benefits will be paid if the claimant is unable to perform the important duties of another occupation to which he or she is reasonably suited by education or training.

Reinstatement: A policy provision under which a policyowner may put a lapsed policy back in force after at least the statutorily required two years, subject to evidence of continued insurability, and payment with interest, of all past unpaid premiums.

Reinsurance: The sharing or spreading of risks too large for one insurer, among other insurers. This avoids the heavy losses incurred if policyowners make excessively large claims.

Renewable: A form of term insurance giving the policyowner the right to continue a policy at the end of one term for some predetermined period of time without providing evidence of insurability, usually at a higher premium rate corresponding to the new attained age.

Reset option: A right under some IVIC to establish a new base value for death benefits and maturity guarantees, thereby locking in a higher guaranteed maturity value at a new maturity date, usually ten years in the future.

Residual disability: A period of partial disability that immediately follows a period of total disability where the insured is able to return to work in a reduced capacity. Provision in a policy that pays benefits proportionate to pre-disability income loss up to specified limits.

Rider: A supplemental agreement attached to an insurance policy that either adds or limits coverage and conditions.

Right of rescission: In Insurance, the applicant has a specified period of time, after receipt of the policy, to examine the premium and coverage provisions, and confirm the policy is accurate and correct. The applicant may return the policy during this preview for a full refund of premiums, regardless of the reason. Not available to investors in a segregated fund under an IVIC. See Ten (10) day free look provision. With mutual funds, the ability to cancel an order within 48 hours (business days) of receiving the trade confirmation. Also the right with mutual funds to repudiate the agreement should a prospectus contain any incorrect information or misrepresentation.

Right of withdrawal: With mutual funds, the investor’s ability to repudiate an agreement to buy within two business days of receiving the prospectus and to receive the full purchase price paid and any sales commissions or fees paid. Not available to investors in a segregated fund under an IVIC.



Segregated fund: Deposits paid by and held in trust for the benefit of individual investors, pooled and held in an investment portfolio separate from an insurance company’s other assets. Returns are based on the market value of the securities held within the fund. Features include maturity and death benefit guarantees, creditor protection, reset options, and exemption or exclusion from probate. As it is an insurance product, investments are made indirectly, through an Individual Variable Insurance Contract (IVIC).

Short-term disability: Benefits paid to claimants who are disabled for a term between six months and two years, after a short elimination period. Designed to provide a disabled person with time to recuperate or train for another occupation, rather than as a permanent income replacement plan.

Single life annuity: An annuity that terminates payments upon the later of the death of a single beneficiary and the end of any guaranteed term.

Standard risk: A person who meets the parameters of insurability for an average individual in a given class, and therefore is entitled to insurance protection without extra rating or special restrictions.

Stock company: An insurance provider that raises capital on the open market and is owned by its shareholders who share in its profits and losses, and elect a managing board of directors in conjunction with policyowners of participating policies. Most Canadian insurance companies.

Stocks: An instrument that signifies an ownership position (called equity) in a corporation, and represents a claim on its assets and profits. Most provide voting rights, giving shareholders voting power in certain corporate decisions proportionate to the amount held. Examples include common shares and preferred shares.

Structured settlement annuity: A court-awarded annuity in cases of personal injury where the defendant responsible for making award payments gives a lump sum to an insurance company that in turn, guarantees a series of payments to the injured party. No part of these payments is considered taxable income.

Substandard risk: A person’s higher than average possibility of illness, disability, or death for a given class of individuals. The accepted applicant receives a rated policy and pays higher premiums to compensate the insurer for assuming greater than normal risk.

Suicide clause: A provision that stipulates how an insurance company will address a situation where the life insured ends his or her life. The Insurance Act allows the contract to be honoured, but contract provisions usually require the policy to be in force for a minimum period following issue or reinstatement. This provision does not exist in an IVIC where death benefits are paid regardless of how or when the contract owner dies.

Summary fact statement: A required disclosure document included with the Summary Information Folder that provides a brief summary of a segregated fund’s historical performance, the investment philosophy of the fund and a list of its three largest assets or holdings.

Summary Information Folder: A required disclosure document that describes the features of an IVIC, including the underlying investments, the process for making deposits, and the process for switches and withdrawals.

Surrender charge: A back-end levy on the redemption of segregated fund units as a percentage of the amount redeemed. Large in the early years of a policy but usually declining over time. Often waived if units are switching from one fund to another within the same policy.

Survivor income benefit: A provision in group life insurance where upon the death of the employee, the policy pays a fixed percentage of his or her income to the spouse and children on a monthly basis subject to a maximum limit and time period.



Tax credits: A reduction to taxable income. The amount of the reduction is a fixed percentage of the allowable expense so it is the same regardless of the taxpayer’s marginal tax rate.

Tax deductions: Reductions to taxable income. One multiplies the allowable expense by the taxpayer’s marginal tax rate to calculate the reduction to taxable income. The value of the deduction increases with the level of taxable income.

Taxable income: Total earnings from all sources of income, less all allowable deductions, less further exemptions. The amount on which one pays federal income taxes.

Temporary insurance agreement: A separate contract that provides coverage for the applicant while an insurance company completes the underwriting process. Coverage is for a maximum of 90 days and subject to specified limits. The applicant must qualify medically as a standard risk and pay an initial premium. Also known as conditional insurance or a TIA.

Ten (10) day free look provision: A right of rescission most insurers opt to include, permitting a policyowner to read the policy and decide to either accept it, or return it for any reason for a full refund of all premiums paid.

Term annuity: A contract providing payment for a definite and specified period of time with payment going to a designated beneficiary if the annuitant dies. Also known as a term certain annuity.

Term deposit: A registered or non-registered interest bearing loan to a bank or trust company for a specified but renewable term of less than one year. Interest accrues at a specified rate based on the prevailing market rate and is fixed for the term, as are rules for redemption.

Term insurance rider: Additional coverage for the life insured, a spouse, or children, for a specified period of time on either existing term or permanent policies. Often less expensive to arrange than creating a new stand-alone policy.

Term life insurance: Protection against financial loss resulting from the death of the life insured for a specific length of time, that expires without value if the life insured survives the stated period. Also known as temporary insurance because it is suited to cover risks that have an identifiable duration.

Term-100 insurance: A form of permanent life insurance providing no cash surrender value and few, if any, non-forfeiture benefits, with level premium payments for the life of the policyowner or until age 100. Suitable for permanent needs where the amount of insurance required is not likely to change.

Terminal illness benefit: A supplementary benefit that provides periodic payments to the life insured during his or her lifetime if death is expected within 12 months due to terminal illness. The insurer deducts the amount advanced, plus interest, from the eventual death benefit. This living benefit can only be paid if the insured’s estate is the beneficiary of the policy.

Time-weighted allocation: The process by which segregated funds retain the income earned in the fund, reinvest it, and adjust the unit value to reflect the additional income. This income is taxable in the hands of the contract owner according to the number of units held, but unlike mutual funds, is prorated for the length of time the units have been owned.

Total disability: The level of physical or mental impairment caused by an accident or illness, as defined in a disability insurance policy, that must exist before benefits are paid. Elements include loss of income and inability to perform the important duties of one’s own occupation, any occupation, or an occupation to which one is reasonably suited by education, training, or experience.

Treasury bill: A short-term debt instrument issued by the federal or provincial government. Because these issuers have the highest credit rating, their debt is the most secure and correspondingly, offers the lowest level of returns. Also known as a T-bill.

Trust: A formal arrangement in which one party, the trustee, holds legal title to property on behalf of another party, the beneficiary, subject to terms set out in the agreement.

Trustee: One who holds the legal title of property for the benefit of another, and must act in that person’s best interests. With segregated funds, the insurance company holds deposits in trust for a policyowner.



Unconditional delivery: An insurer accepts an applicant for insurance, issues and applies the policy, and requires nothing more from the new policyowner to put the policy in force.

Underwriting: The process, by which an insurance company examines an application, decides whether to accept the risk according to insurability criteria and if so, what premium to charge under the policy.

Uniform Life Insurance Act: A uniformity of law, not a statute, that governs the life insurance activities of the nine common law provinces.

Unilateral contract: A formal agreement where only one party is bound to the outlined terms and conditions. Under an insurance contract, there is no recourse available to the insurer should the policyowner neglect to pay premiums; the policy will simply lapse.

Universal life insurance: A permanent life insurance policy allowing flexibility in face amount; number and identity of lives insured; amount, frequency, and timing of deposits; and investment decisions for the policy reserve fund, provided there are sufficient funds to pay mortality and administration costs. Offers tax-deferred savings and favourable tax treatment for beneficiaries.

Unregistered annuity: An annuity purchased with non-registered funds. Since funds used for this purchase have already been taxed, only the interest portion, and not the principal repayment, is taxable.



Valuation date: The date upon which the investments held under a segregated fund’s deferred annuity policy are valued for purposes of the death benefit and maturity guarantees.

Variable annuity: An annuity, either term or life, indexed or non-indexed, with the amounts of payments based upon the returns of an investment portfolio. Often funded by segregated funds.

Void contract: An agreement that fails to meet one of the basic principles of contract formation from the outset and therefore cannot be legally enforced. It is as if the agreement never existed and it cannot be fixed and made valid.

Voidable contract: An agreement that satisfies all the principles of contract formation yet contains a flaw giving the insurer the option to avoid its obligations altogether, adjust the policy to reflect the flaw, or ignore the flaw and treat the contract as enforceable.



Waiver of premium: Waiver of Premium (WP): If this optional rider is added to the Policy, the Company will pay into the Contract either the Minimum Premium or the Planned Premium, as applied for by the Owner, in the event that the Life Insured under this rider becomes totally disabled.

Warrants: A form of derivative issued by a company, entitling investors to buy common shares directly from that company at a discount from the market price. Usually issued at the time shares are issued and having a life span of one to several years.

Whole life insurance: A form of permanent life insurance providing coverage for the whole of the insured’s life, with a fixed premium rate payable for that lifetime established at issue and paid periodically or as a lump sum. Premiums create a policy reserve fund with a cash surrender value (CSV). Also known as straight life insurance or ordinary life insurance.

Workers’ Compensation Board: Provincial entities funded by employer premiums, established to monitor workplace safety and to compensate workers who develop a work-related sickness or injury on the job. Benefits correspond to a table of benefits and are tax-free. Also known as WCB, the Workers’ Safety & Insurance Board, or WSIB.



Yearly renewable term: Term insurance renewable on a yearly basis without subsequent proof of insurability but based on attained age. It is the basis for calculating mortality cost deduction from the investment account in some universal life insurance policies.

Yield to maturity: A measure of the return provided by a fixed income investment that would be realized if the bond was held until the maturity date. It is greater than the current yield if the bond is selling at a discount and less than the current yield if the bond is selling at a premium.