Commentary - Hans H. Mathisen
What will you do? -The July issue of LIFE LETTER focuses on the financial hardship that is all too often caused when a person suffers a critical illness. Insurance is now available to protect us against such disasters.
Identity theft and fraud glossary -We have heard about how difficult it can be to recover one's identity once it is stolen. LIFE LETTER for August offers some advice on how to protect ourselves from identity theft and fraud.
LIFE LETTER MATURE - The two issues cover the importance of having what is often referred to as a "Living Will" and a question asked frequently by many: "How long will I need life insurance? ". Both these questions should be given a high priority in our respective financial and estate plans.
THE STOCK MARKETS - The major stock indexes are down a little bit since I last reported to you on May 31, 2007. The only exception is Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index. It stood at +3.35% at the end of May, and has increased to +16.13% as of July 31, 2007. By the end of July, the TSX Composite has grown 7.44% this year; the Dow Jones is up 6.01% and the S & P 500 and NASDAQ rose 2.61% and 5.42% respectively. In Europe, Germany's DAX grew 14.96%; France's CAC 40 rose 3.78%; and the British FTSE 100 is up 2.24%. Japan's NIKKEI is flat at +0.13% for the year.
The "summer rally" that happened earlier in the summer died and the markets are into a period of volatility at this time. Profit taking and investors' worries about where interest rates are heading appear to be the cause. But, as far as Canada's economy is faring, analysts agree that it is healthy and all the fundamentals are in good shape.
What will you do?
Sean owns a small business. In spite of his healthy, active lifestyle, it came as a huge shock when he was diagnosed with cancer. Sean decided to take a year off work to beat this disease and recover from the treatments. His employees were concerned about his health and recovery, but they were more concerned with how Sean being away from the business would affect their jobs.
Shortly after his diagnosis, Sean called a staff meeting and was able to assure his employees that their jobs were not in jeopardy. He had purchased a Critical Illness Insurance policy several years before and planned on using the cash benefit to help cover the cost of hiring a manager to run his business while lie recovered. He was able to step back into his business after his recovery without losing any staff.
Sarah, a working mother with two young children, had a stroke. It wasn't too severe, but the road to recovery was long and difficult. Her disability insurance paid a monthly benefit that helped with the daily living expenses. Her husband, Adam, took a leave of absence from his job to look after Sarah, the kids and their home.
Fortunately, Sarah had a Critical Illness Insurance policy that paid a cash benefit 30-days after her stroke. The money helped replace Adam's lost income and allowed him to stay home, where he was needed most, during Sarah's recovery.
Mike lived a fast-paced, high pressure lifestyle. It paid off for him one day by giving him a heart attack. This event was a wake-up call for Mike and forced him to make some life changes.
Mike's Critical Illness Insurance policy paid him a cash benefit 30-days after his heart attack. The money allowed him to take several extra months off after he was cleared to return to work. It also relieved the stress of his mortgage payments for a full two years. When Mike returned to work, he was well rested and had adopted a healthier lifestyle.
According to the Canadian Cancer Society, 52% of all cancer victims survive more than five years. The Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada tells us that 90% of heart attack victims survive 30 days, and 75% of stroke victims survive the initial event. Medical science has made it far more likely of surviving a critical illness than ever before.
Critical Illness Insurance may be available from life insurance companies, but it was actually developed in South Africa in 1983 by a physician, Dr. Marius Barnard. He is the brother of famed cardiac surgeon Dr. Christian Barnard, the first doctor in the world to successfully transplant a human heart. Marius Barnard noticed that more and more patients were able to survive their initial illness, but their financial health suffered. This financial stress aggravated their already fragile health, delaying recovery and sometimes ending in suicide.
Critical Illness Insurance is a pot of cash that will help you get through a health crisis. After all, money should be the least of your concerns.
Want to know more about critical illness insurance?
Hans Mathisen today at (306)242-7042.
Copyright © 2007 Life Letter. All rights reserved
Identity theft and fraud glossary
Identity theft and fraud are the fastest growing crimes in the world. In 2006, almost 7,800 cases representing over $14 million in losses were reported in Canada . There are many more unreported incidents. Here's what you should know:
Phishing - An e-mail message that appears to have been sent by a financial institution you deal with asking for verification of personal information. When you follow the Internet link and answer the questions, the thieves get enough information about you and your accounts to steal your money and perhaps your identity.
The financial institutions you deal with do not need to "verify" the information they already have on you. Just delete any e-mails of this type you receive.
Vishing - Similar to phishing above, but the fraudsters call you directly and pose as an employee of your financial institution or direct you by e-mail to call a number. They can even disguise call display so that it looks like the call may be legitimate.
Your financial institution does not make calls like these. Ignore the call and hang up.
Shoulder Surfing - Someone hovering nearby while you are entering the PIN for your bank card. If they get your PIN and skim your card (phoney machines used to steal your bank card digital information) or pick your pocket or purse, they can clean out your bank account in no time. They may even use the digital camera feature of a cell phone.
Beware of people around you that may be able to view your PIN as you enter it on a keypad. Shield the keypad with your other hand or your body. If someone is aiming a cell phone in your direction when using your cards, block the view of your card and stop the transaction until they're gone.
Dumpster Diving - A fraudster goes through garbage or recycling bins looking for account information. With an old bank or credit card statement, cancelled cheques, discarded junk mail credit card offers, and a little bit of modem technology, a thief can open an account in your name and make off with the money. It may take you years to clear your good name.
Shred and or burn all old bank and credit card statements, and any pre-approved credit card offers you receive in the mail. It's a good idea to do this for any papers you have that contain any information about you, even if it's just name and address.
Pump and Dump - A fraudster buys a block of low priced penny stocks and sends out millions of spam e-mails. The e-mails can be quite compelling and look like a hot tip. Those that fall for this actually fuel a demand for the stocks that the fraudster sells at an inflated price, sticking the new buyer with a loss.
Ignore all unsolicited e-mails like this. A good spam filter should block most for you.
If you are a victim of fraud or identity theft, notify law enforcement immediately.
Want help with your emergency and opportunity funds?
Call Hans Mathisen today at (306)242-7042.
Copyright © 2007 Life Letter. All rights reserved
Mutual confidence is the power that binds together all harmonious human relationships.