Canadians Not Prepared to Handle the Effects of Disability or Illness

Managing without Money: RBC Insurance Study

Mississauga, September 23, 2004 � Canadians may be worried about dealing with a disability or critical illness, but they aren�t prepared to cope financially. An RBC Insurance/Ipsos-Reid survey released today found that while 60 per cent of those surveyed are worried about themselves or someone in their family getting a critical illness, less than half (46 per cent) of employed Canadians are confident that they would have enough money or funds to replace their total income (including bonuses and commissions) if they became disabled or ill.

In fact, most Canadians (79 per cent) say they would have to change their lifestyle and live more conservatively if they became ill or unable to work.

�Having to manage without regular income is not something most of us want to think about, but dealing with the financial and emotional effects of a disability or critical illness can be very difficult, particularly if you�re not prepared,� said Neil Skelding, president & CEO, RBC Life Insurance Company. �While most people assume they would live more conservatively if they had to, that is often easier said than done. The only way to really be prepared for this kind of situation is to ensure you have a complete financial plan that includes coverage for disabilities and critical illnesses.�

Industry research also reveals some interesting information that supports the need for Canadians to be prepared to handle the realities of disabilities and critical illnesses. According to Statistics Canada, one in every seven Canadians aged 15 and over � an estimated 3.4 million people � reported some level of disability in 2001. The Canadian Heart and Stroke Foundation says that while 40,000-50,000 Canadians will have a stroke this year, 85 per cent of those affected will live.

Younger Canadians most concerned about disability or illness
More than two thirds (68 per cent) of younger Canadians (18 to 34 year olds) are concerned about themselves or someone in their family becoming critically ill, compared to 58 per cent of those 35 to 54 and 54 per cent of those 55 and over.

Furthermore, the younger you are the more likely you are to say you would rely on your family members for money if you became disabled or ill (38 per cent of employed 18 to 34 year olds vs. 22 per cent of those 35 to 54 and 16 per cent of those 55 and over). Among employed Canadians, confidence in being able to replace income increases with age (18 to 34 at 39 per cent compared to 48 per cent for those aged 35 to 54 and 58 per cent for those 55 and over).

Albertans least confident about having enough money

Regionally, the survey found residents of Alberta are least confident (35 per cent) that they would have enough money or funds to replace their total income if they became disabled or ill, while those who live in Saskatchewan and Manitoba are most confident (60 per cent). These numbers compare to: British Columbia (45 per cent), Ontario (46 per cent), Quebec (48 per cent) and Atlantic Canada (49 per cent).

Understanding of disability insurance coverage low

Even though half (48 per cent) of Canadians say they have disability insurance coverage that would replace their income if they became ill or were hurt and unable to work, the understanding of what they are protected for is low. Less than half (45 per cent) of those with disability insurance say they know exactly what coverage they have, when benefits would start, how much they would get and how long they would last. Men feel they have a slightly better understanding of their coverage than women (48 per cent vs. 41 per cent), while understanding of coverage is lowest at 34 per cent among those aged 18 to 34 compared to those aged 35 to 54 (49 per cent) and those aged 55 and over (49 per cent).

These are the findings of an RBC Insurance/Ipsos-Reid poll conducted between August 10 and August 12, 2004. The poll is based on a randomly selected sample of 2,000 adult Canadians. With a sample of this size, the results are considered accurate to within plus or minus 2.2 percentage points, 19 times out of 20, of what they would have been had the entire adult Canadian population been polled. The margin of error will be larger within regions and for other sub-groupings of the survey population. These data were statistically weighted to ensure the sample�s regional and age/sex composition reflects that of the actual Canadian population according to 2001 Census data.
For tabular results, please visit the Ipsos-Reid website at News Releases are available at:

About RBC Insurance

RBC Insurance, through its operating entities, including RBC Life Insurance Company, provides a wide range of creditor, life, health, travel, home, auto and reinsurance products to more than five million North American clients. As one of the top 10 life insurance producers and the leading provider of individual living benefits in Canada, RBC Life Insurance Company offers a comprehensive portfolio of individual and group life and health insurance solutions. These products are distributed through more than 17,000 independent brokers affiliated with producer groups, financial planning firms and stock brokerage firms, as well as through direct sales and a network of career sales representatives. For more information, please visit