Clients may be reluctant to discuss insurance for several reasons. Insurance addresses difficult topics, such as death, disability and critical illness, that some clients would rather avoid. Other clients may believe they can't afford the premiums, or they just might not see insurance as a necessity.

But insurance plays an important role that can change at different stages of your clients' lives, says Mark Halpern, president and CEO at WEALTHinsurance.com in Toronto. It is a risk-management tool that should be an integral component of your clients' financial plans.

The various types of insurance – life insurance, disability insurance, critical illness insurance (CI) and long-term care insurance (LTC) can be part of a continuum that spans your clients' life.

Here are some considerations to help your clients understand the importance of insurance at the various stages of their lives:

> Early stage
Most clients should consider life insurance early in their lives, Halpern says, although most don't usually think about it until they get married. But the earlier in life clients buy most types of insurance, the less expensive it is. And buying insurance early reduces the chance that the client will be declined due to health conditions they may develop later.

During this early stage, clients often buy less-expensive term insurance, which provides coverage for a pre-determined period. Benefits would be intended to cover such liabilities as mortgages or loans in the event of death and provide sufficient funds to ensure a comfortable lifestyle for the client's family.

Some clients may choose to buy permanent insurance – whole life, universal life and Term 100 — which provides coverage for as long as they live.

> Mid-stage
Disability can strike at any age, and Halpern suggests that clients consider acquiring disability insurance to protect them from the sudden loss or interruption of income should they become disabled. The probability of having some form of disability is on average more than 40% for all people.

Clients tend to ignore the fact that they could become disabled during their income-earning years when they are still young or otherwise healthy. In some cases, they believe their employer's group insurance will provide them with adequate benefits if they were to become disabled. But the income from group plans is often insufficient to take care of the needs of the client's family.

> Mid-to-late stage
Most clients never stop to think that they could suffer from a critical illness such as heart attack, a stroke or cancer.

Surviving a critical illness can present financial challenges for which clients may be unprepared. Explain to your clients that CI insurance provides a tax-free, lump-sum payment that can be used for any purpose when the policyholder is diagnosed with a critical illness.

> Late stage
Regardless of the individual circumstances of your clients, they might need long-term care, the cost of which can derail their best laid retirement plans. That is why you should discuss LTC with your aging clients. This type of coverage is not usually top of mind for most individuals — often until it is too late.

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