Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Doctors Protest Against Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) in Ontario

Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) is a sport with about a 100-year-long modern tradition. The rules of the fight allow a selection of techniques to take place in every match. Thus, martial artists with various skillsets are able to compete in the ring. MMA is a full-contact sport with roots with roots as far as the ancient Rome.

Lately, medical professionals had something to say about this on the Canadian Medical Association’s general annual meeting in Niagara Falls. The majority of the doctors voiced their belief that the sport should not be legal. They simply argue that MMA is a dangerous sport with a large probability of injuries – a lot more significant than in boxing for instance.

Another parallel institution which lately voiced worries regarding MMA was the British Medical Association . Since early 2009, they are actively campaigning against this sport in Britain (for more info read BMA’s entire statement here). They, too, argue that the sport often gets excessively brutal.

As explained by Dr. Ian Gillespie, the president of BCMA, “MMA fighting, like boxing, is distinct from many other sports in that the basic intent of the fighter is to cause harm in order to incapacitate his or her opponent.” He adds that the “various techniques […] aren’t limited to punching, and there may be the presence of fewer safety rules.” is a portal reporting on MMA events and news. In an article on this topic, it expresses their own opinions on the arguments of the British Medical Association. They mention that any available data is extremely limited and link to an American study finding that injury and knock-out rates in Mixed Martial Arts are comparable to those of other such activities.

The Hamilton Spectator interviewed two experts from the field – a fighter and a coach – idea about the issue. Less efficient protective equipment which makes fighting more dangerous is a large concern. Also, the referees are less specific plus any regulations are looser overall. Unlike in box, the strikes are not aimed solely at the opponent’s head and the body in MMA, which will easily cause more kinds of injuries. To be fair, it may still make head injuries much less probable. Both experts are calling for a unification of procedures across Canada instead of keeping different regulations for each province.

Why do the Canadian doctors step up now? It is because only now (in August), Ontario province government finally agreed to legalize MMA in the province. Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) and Warrior One (W1) are the two largest organizations. They already have business strategies aiming to develop activities in lucrative locations in the province. Ontario Premier Mr. Dalton McGuinty finally stepped out of his comfort zone to sign the law, but wants close scrutiny of all events and all the rules, according to Toronto Sun.

Doctors are unhappy that there are seldom trained professionals at the matches. They say that even if there were, it would be against their essential principles for them to passively watch the ongoing injuries and just let them pass. Traditional martial artists are displeased that the sport is in its essence countering the original values of martial arts which are most importantly respect, discipline, self-control and courtesy.

As reported by CTV, Dr. Shelby Karpman warns that since MMA is already very popular, outlawing it would cause that the fights take place illegally. Also, health supervision would not be enforceable and thus the artists could count on substandard care, which translates into even more danger.

That said, it seems reasonable to conclude that if the sport cannot be banned, it should definitely be officially regulated and any rules should be obeyed without exceptions. This means that there should be reasonable medical authority present with appropriate competencies; licensing, insurance and preventive measures should be in place during every match.

As I am sure you are wondering: Extreme sports such as MMA are treated as a special case for life insurance. Not every company will want to sell you coverage if you perform this or a similar extreme sport, and those who will are going to ask a much higher price. The final price is going to depend on the nature of the sport you do. A fighter should pay utmost attention to any exclusions and caveats in the policy and should not sign up for any but licensed events. Illegal fighting may mar your chances of ever successfully making a claim on your policy.

However, life insurance is not going to suffice to cover all expenses associated with extreme sports. A fighter will most probably cause harm to his or her counterpart and that will make him or her responsible for the reimbursements. In addition to the host of the match, each fighter should have liability insurance of his or her own. As with life insurance, with liability insurance it holds true that the fight must be part of a licensed and supervised venue and is limited by any exclusions in the plan.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

A Brief Overview of Canadian Long-term Care Insurance

There may come a time in our later years when we simply are unable to live on our own. If you read the statistics, 50% of Canadians are expected to need long-term care after 75. With increased longevity and the aging of the population, it is advisable that we sort out these matters as soon as possible. In this article, we are going to give you an overview of long-term care insurance, as well as briefly describe policies from three different Canadian insurance companies to help you compare.

What is long-term care insurance?
If you can’t do at least two of the following six activities:

  • dressing,
  • eating,
  • toileting,
  • bathing,
  • maintaining continence,
  • and transferring (e.g. from a bed to a chair)

on your own (the exact activity list depending on your individual policy), then you qualify for your benefit from long-term care insurance. Your policy will then pay you the agreed tax-free benefit on a weekly basis to help you get suitable assistance.

Long-term care coverage helps protect the resources and health of not only you, but also your children who would have to invest extra resources to provide for your needs. Unlike in Life Insurance, Long-term Care plans do not normally prefer non-smokers, nor do they distinguish between females and males.

Read here if you want to find out more about long-term care insurance vocabulary and definitions.

How to choose your long-term care insurance policy?
What to ask about your long-term care insurance policy:
You should first check for any exceptions in the policy as to when and how you get to your benefit. Then, try to estimate how much your care may cost you and for how long. You may choose to opt for a policy delay (elimination period) which will let you pay for your care from your own pocket for a chosen time before the policy kicks in, which makes the policy cheaper. Furthermore, see if the policy offers you guaranteed premiums (i.e. level amounts) and for how long. Examine any policy riders and add-ons of interest to you and don’t forget to consult your choices with an independent broker.

Interested in more details? See Shopping for a long-term care insurance policy.

Comparing insurers’ offers
You can buy Long-term Care insurance from Ontario Medical Association/Sun Life Insurance, Penncorp Insurance Company, Manulife Financial, RBC Insurance, Desjardins or Blue Cross. Let’s briefly look at a few of them in turn.

Ontario Medical Association (OMA) offers a long-term Care insurance policy to you and your family members 21 to 80 years of age. The policy is in fact underwritten by Sun Life Financial. The prices are the same as those of Sun Life’s plans. The policy has a rolling 5-year premium guarantee and offers a possibility of no elimination period if you need facility care. The plan is receipt-based. Premiums are lower for men.

Penncorp offers a so-called One Step Long-term Care, which pays the benefit already as soon as you have one incapacity, including cognitive impairment, which allows the insured to enjoy the broadest possible coverage. This is the plan’s specialty in Canada. One Step Long-term Care Plan by Penncorp is available to individuals aged 30 to 70. This plan doesn’t have a premium guarantee on the policy’s premiums.

Manulife Financial is trying to bank on simplicity. Manulife’s policy is called Living Care and the client is merely required to fill in an application form and undergo an interview. This is conducted by telephone if she or he is less than 70, and it should be conducted in person if he or she is 71 or older. If you are older, the insurer may get in touch with your doctor to verify your medical information. Manulife does not require laboratory exams during a long-term care application process. The policy is not receipt-based and it has a minimum elimination period of 90 days, which is longer than most competitors.

At Desjardins, the rates are a bit more expensive than competition’s. However, you have the money at your own disposal and don’t have to provide any receipts. Premiums are guaranteed for the first five years of the plan and favouring males.

You surely see that it isn’t easy to understand all of the insurance offerings in the market. Ask a broker you trust to help you out.

To find out more info about long-term care insurance, please check out our Long-term Care Consumer Report.

Searching for more details? Please see our enumeration of Interesting Facts About Long-term Care Insurance.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Standard Life and Their Insurance Policies

I would like to present to you several Canadian insurance companies in a few short articles, and I’d like to commence with Standard Life. Now, let me examine Standard Life’s Term and Universal Life plans.

The Universal Life policy:
You may apply for the Universal Life up to your 81st birthday. Perspecta - as this policyis being traded - has several nice things to offer, including multiple death benefit, flexible monthly premiums as well as cost of insurance options.

The Perspecta investment accounts include the following: managed accounts, indexed accounts (including Strategic Asset Allocation accounts), term deposits, and one daily interest account. What is more, Perspecta has a Shelter Optimizer and Account Optimizer, which maximize the return from premium investments by maintaining their tax-exempt status. The policy features client bonus payments in later policy years to further enhance value accumulation.

Applicants can add the following add-ons (and more) to the policy: 10 and 20-year term riders which are renewable and convertible, children’s term riders, critical illness riders for adults, as well as children, accidental death benefit, guaranteed insurability benefit and a benefit which relieves you from paying premiums in case of a disability.

On the downside, Standard Life insurance (which used to have some of the cheapest Universal Life plans out there) came with an increase in its pricing in 2005. Now, some age groups will be forced to switch to other insurance providers because of this increase. On the plus side, Standard Life is one of the handful companies in Canada to offer preferred rates on both their Term and Universal Life policy.

As an illustration, a 45-year-old non-smoking male will sign up to $211.95 monthly at least, as this is the minimum payment that keeps the policy alive.

Term Life:
Standard Life offers two term life policies in its portfolio - Term 10 and Term 20. You can sign up for the Term 10 policy at any time between age 18 and 70, Term 20 ends at 65. The plans are renewable to age 85 and they can be converted up to age 65. The Term policies also offer many different riders which are like those coming with the Universal Life policy.

The applicant can also decide to sign up for an individual or first-to-die benefit (e.g. with a spouse).
Those in good health and have a good family health history may be able to qualify for a preferred rate. As a bonus, if you are extremely healthy, you might qualify for a super preferred rate! On the downside, these term life plans are not available at face amounts under $100~000. This can prove crucial for senior applicants in case they are a constrained budget.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Basel and Canadian Banks

Embedded contingent capital. This may sound like a term from another planet, but it is a model which may become the reality for our banks. The Basel Committee listened to Canadian advice and now considers implementing this new regulatory feature in a hope to help preserve the stability of the world’s banks. Finance Minister Jim Flaherty said he was “pleased” Canada’s advice was being seriously considered.

The Basel Committee on Banking Supervision was created in 1974. This institution which unites the ten nations’ central bank governors. The committee gathers four times a year to discuss recommendations, guidelines and best practices that the members and other states should implement in their home legal system. The committee’s decisions do not directly influence the national markets, yet they are mostly obeyed since uniform law helps ensure that multinational banks are not required to use their own compliance management, which decreases the operating costs.

These new proposed rules redefine the accounting principles regarding banks’ debt, Financial Times reported. Under usual circumstances, debt (whether in the form of bonds or loans) is accounted for as a liability of the bank towards its creditors. Creditors have an advantage over shareholders: in case a company goes bankrupt, creditors are satisfied before any owners. In addition, the debtor-creditor relationship is traditionally more systematic and the creditor can expect to recoup back the face value of the debt at the end of the lending term. Regular debt is therefore safer than equity and thus cheaper too.

In the future, banks could make use of the option of transforming some of their debt to equity if another financial crisis strikes. Such a conversion will have to be ordered by the federal government and will allow banks to expand their capital levels instantly. More capital should allow the bank to withstand for a longer time – hopefully during the whole of the crisis. Therefore, the term “embedded contingent capital” is defined as capital embedded in the bank’s debt and contingent upon the financial situation of the bank or the entire economy. The government must initiate and approve the transformation.

In addition to improved banking sector stability, the newly proposed rules are meant to provoke greater scrutiny of investors and lenders over the performance of the bank and lending practices. As the effect of the greater risk they are facing, lenders will have an incentive to monitor their banks, the Basel Committee thinks.

But is it really that important of an argument? LSM Insurance argues that greater incentives are a positive notion. But will they be backed by appropriate legislation ensuring heightened transparency of the banking operations so that there are tools for investors to actually observe their banks effectively? Plus, even today, investors are interested in the well-being of their banks. The change may add additional pairs of eyes interested in the matter, but the added benefit is still debatable.

LSM Insurance believes that the major implication of this upcoming law for the banks themselves will be their ability to acquire financing in an extra way that is cheaper than equity but a bit more expensive than regular debt. That is if they can find a market to sell it to.

Debt in the form of loans and bonds normally obliges the debtors to pay back in regular agreed upon instalments – annuities – according to an agreed-upon payment schedule. The face value of the debt is always paid back to the lender when the debt matures. Equity, on the other hand, implies ownership, including voting and other rights. The disadvantage is that it is up to the company’s management to set the dividends, or whether there are any at all. What is more, shareowners cannot expect the face value of their investment to be returned at the end of the term and the only way they can recoup the money they invested is to re-sell their equity to another investor.

If Canadian banks find a way to take advantage this borrowing facility “of the third kind”, their cost of capital will increase. In return, they will have an interesting safety measure in place to resort to in case worse comes to worst. Of course, there must be a market and means of valuation for such an instrument, which is still a large question mark in a market as small as the Canadian one Nevertheless, the banks seem to expect that the hassle is going to be worth it eventually. The reassuring factor is that this feature can only be applied upon federal government approval and is not the decision of the banks themselves.

According to Reuters, the banks in Canada say they are ready to embrace the new rules. From their current position, they want to continue in their successful post-crisis growth. Banks and analysts are forecasting acquisitions and mergers in Canada and abroad. Our banks will want to expand their presence especially in the European and US markets.

Monday, September 20, 2010

How Longer Sleep Might Make Your Little Ones Lighter

Life insurance brokers repeatedly emphasize the importance of lifestyle in influencing your life insurance plan bill. Recently, academics discovered in a survey that if you improve your chidren’s day’s regime during their youngest age, it could possibly have a major impact on their well-being in the later stages of their life.

A survey conducted in the U.S. tried to find out if there is a traceable correlation between the length of a kid’s sleep and his or her body weight in a representative sample of U.S. 0 to 13 year-old children, Reuters reports. The survey was conducted in two chunks. In 1997, the researchers gathered the initial details about the people in the sample, followed up in 2002 by collecting information about the elapsed period.

The study showed that children who were able to get fewer than 10 hours of sleep before age 5 are expected to have elevated chances of becoming overweight in their later life. For those interested in more details: toddlers’ parents should allow their precious ones to sleep 12-14 hours every day. Older children before age 5 would do best to rest at least eleven-thirteen hours a day and children older than five but younger than 10 are advised to take ten- to eleven-hour sleep too. The trend continues in a similar way, encouraging teenagers to go with 8.5-9.25 hours of rest at night. The researchers take care to point out that interrupted sleep doesn’t add to one’s sleep time.

When examining children over five, shorter sleep periods were not proven to be directly associated with excess weight, but is nevertheless deemed to have the force to change a kid’s body weight in a negative direction temporarily. The causes of that haven’t been discovered yet. There are theories, some of them suggesting that sleep has an influence over one’s . This is true for adults as much as kids. In addition, Dr. Janice F. Bell explains that exhausted children probably do not feel like exercising as much needed. Perhaps a more trivial explanation could be that the briefer one sleeps, the more chances he or she has to consume.

It has been noted above that the advantage of this study lies in the fact that the tested subjects were watched for a longer period, contrary to only one moment. That way, the researchers were enabled to track weight variations in the very same boys and girls, not simply averaging across a mixed group. The majority of probes had to rely on statistical incidence of overweight kids among examined groups and every single subject’s memories regarding their habits.

We ought to be positively encouraged that sleeping practices can be easily tailored to one’s needs, mainly in younger children who can possibly be impacted most. Keeping oneself in good health will definitely improve one’s enjoyment in life, but may decrease the price of his or her health care and life insurance quote.

The European Capital Test

In the middle of 2010, Europe’s bankers underwent a stress test to determine the assortment of their capital holdings and to what degree they relied on resources connected to problematic states. In spite of the results of the stress test being positive in the beginning, it was found after a while that there were important omissions of details in the test templates. The E.U. banks’ capital structure makes them indeed subject to more risk than is considered healthy.

A few weeks ago, in July 2010, a stress test was imposed on all European banks to determine whether they were ready to survive a future financial downturn. This assessment was chiefly aimed at assessing the EU banks’ reserve levels and its type – whether a satisfactory level of reserves exists and whether it is of a satisfactory quality for the examined banks to rely on. Several countries outside the E.U. introduced a test on their banks’ reserve ratios as well – LSM Insurance informed its followers and clients about that earlier this year as well. The E.U. test discovered that a handful of banks (especially in Greece) were in an unfavourable position, but the the findings in general helped to solidify the investor confidence in the European banking system in general. For those reasons, the Euro and other EU currencies outside the monetary union were benefiting from an unshaken position in the international market.

That is to say for a tad more than four weeks. Early in September 2010, The Wall Street Journal released a detailed analysis of the test results and compared it to a review of the official financial reports of the examined banks. WSJ found that the test subjects often did not manage to detail all the necessary descriptions on their funding, seeing as the numbers could not be entirely matched their statutory reports. This way, the transparency of the input details was unfortunately affected. The banks did not lie. Rather, the banks just did not care to categorize their holdings correctly as the CEBS guidance was not written clearly enough either to start with.

Traditionally, government debentures are believed to be carrying no risk. Considering the financial distress in in Greece, however, they have gained on importance. Greece’s near-bankrupt status puts riskier government debentures and as such, the Greek government bonds ought to be recorded differently. Many banks just would not make this principle clear when reporting. Some banks wouldn’t report parts of their capital holdings, claiming that it was because of their volatility and the fact that they were actively traded in the normal course of their business. This way, they effectively improved their results in an uncontrollable fashion. Since every tested participant “understood” the requirements of the test with slight differences, each tested subject disclosed its reserve holdings differently and that caused that the results are drawing from different assumptions. Therefore, they are virtually incomparable.

In short, the paramount issue with the testing was the limited amount of extra information that the banks included for the regulators. Obviously, the CEBS test requirements were too relaxed to really oblige the banks to reveal any useful pieces of data. This is unfortunate for the Euro, which experienced a severe shock and has been trying to climb back up insecurely from that time forth. It is bewildering to see that even now, the CEBS is still confident with the original rules.

We certainly hope the CEBS and other banking regulators all over the globe are going to learn out of this slip and will take care that any other tests and regulations are well-thought through. Any more issues would harm the trustworthiness of the affected economy.