Explore Economics East – Derek Nicholson firm believer in benefits of chamber insurance plan

Blog | Group Insurance

Derek Nicholson is a firm believer in the value of insurance and loves working with his wife and son to offer the Chamber of Commerce Group
Insurance Plan to chamber members and their employees. He knows better than most how quickly life can change.

On October 29, 1978, Derek was a young mechanic spending a day off, working on the roof of his mobile home taking down an aerial. In an instant
he was on the ground after 7,200 volts of electricity passed through his body. He never lost consciousness throughout the ordeal.
Lucky to be alive, he spent months in hospital and underwent a number of surgeries. There were months of rehab. His hands were surgically reconstructed
but he no longer had enough use to continue as a mechanic so a career change was in order. His road back into the workforce
began with a call from then Eastern Graphic Publisher Jim MacNeill offering him a job selling advertising.  After a year, he found himself drawn
back to the automotive industry, this time as a salesman for Batt & MacRae in eastern PEI.

Then he was hit by another jolt – this time economic. His employer went bankrupt. A former employee from Batt & MacRae, who had already gone into the insurance business, suggested
it might be a good fit for Derek too.  That was over 20 years ago. Today Derek represents Sun Life Financial, working out of a home office in Lower Montague with his wife, Beth, and son, Chris.

“One of the key components to the success of our family business has been the ongoing support provided by Beth,” he said. “That enabled me
to be away from home as she manned the phones and raised three incredibly talented children.”

He is also the authorized agent for the Chambers of Commerce Group Insurance Plan for the Eastern PEI
Chamber of Commerce as well as both the Kensington and Greater Summerside Chambers.

The national plan, which has more than 30,000 member firms across Canada is available to any chamber member. In fact, Derek is actually
generating money for the three chambers he works with every day, since the local chamber receives an administration fee.

“One of my first clients when I got into the insurance business was a small firm looking for health benefits for its
employees,” he noted. “There wasn’t really much available at an affordable price.”
In fact, that was one of the main reasons the chamber plan was developed. One of the main attractions of the plan is the flexibility it offers.
It can be tailored to meet the needs of employers and employees when it comes to life insurance, health and dental coverage.
As well, he said plans can be custom made for any size firm, with the latest addition offering coverage to a single owner with no employees. There is 24
hour a day coverage and family members of employees are also covered. There is also a retiree plan for business owners in the process of easing
out of the day-to-day operation of the business that can be offered until age 80. The coverage includes travel insurance should they decide to travel
south for part of the year.

Derek explained he wants all chamber members to feel they are getting value out of the plan, adding he works with clients to modify their coverage




More information about the Explore Economics East Project of Eastern PEI Chamber of Commerce CLICK HERE

Explore Eastern PEI – Morley Annear Ltd

Blog | Group Insurance

Explore Eastern PEI a Magazine published by The Eastern Graphic in partnership with the Eastern PEI Chamber of Commerce featured Morley Annear LTD a trucking company in Eastern PEI that finds the Chamber Plan to be a great fit for their employees!

On any given day trucks bearing the Morley Annear Limited logo roll down the highways of eastern Canada and the United States seaboard delivering everything from lobster to furniture.
For Scott Annear, the truckers behind the wheel and the staff that supports them back at the company’s Brudenell terminal are not just employees
– they are like family. That is the way it has always been since his father hired his first employee and it is a philosophy his own son, Thomas
(who is assistant manager) has also embraced. When the company terminal burned down in 2010, Thomas recalled in a newspaper story the first words his grandfather said were: “We
have to make sure everybody has a place to work tomorrow morning. My grandfather was more concerned with his employees than himself.”
The company did indeed come back bigger and better than ever. Its current office opened in 2011 and the company continues to grow, with a major upgrade of its software system in 2012 and a fleet expansion in 2012. In addition to its fleet of over 25 trucks delivering general freight or perishable goods in temperature controlled reefer cars, they also have dump trucks for the construction industry and a snow removal service during the winter months.

Scott wants to make sure all his employees have the best protection possible, so the group insurance plan the Eastern PEI Chamber of Commerce is able to offer its members through its
affiliation with the Canadian Chamber of Commerce is a natural fit.  Hilary Spencer, Morley Annear’s office manager, says coverage is offered on a voluntary basis to employees who
have been with the company at least three months. The vast majority of the company’s workforce of close to 50 are enrolled in the plan. There is one exception – any drivers heading to
the United States must have the coverage since the user pay health system south of the border can see health care bills rise quickly.

“It gives both the drivers and the company peace of mind,” she said. In addition to covering employees both on and off the job, coverage is extended to spouses and children up
to 25 if they are a full-time student. The benefits include life insurance, dental, vision and other medical services. The premiums are cost shared equally between the employee and the
company. Hilary said Morley Annear Ltd. has used other medical plans in the past, but found the premiums tended to escalate over time while the coverage would often decrease.

Chris Nicholson has heard this story often. He and his father, Derek, operate Nicholson Group Inc. and are the authorized agents to offer the Canadian Chamber of Commerce plan
to member companies in the eastern chamber.  He explained the chamber group insurance plan has never had a premium increase of more than 3.8 per cent over the last five years. By contrast,
Chris said many other plans have routinely seen annual increases of 10 per cent or more. Many other plans also require a significant workforce before they will consider coverage, while the
chamber plan offers coverage to a firm of any size. “They have just come out with a guaranteed issue plan that offers coverage for a business owner who does not have any employees and no medical questions are required,” Chris said. “The coverage can be tailored to suit the company and it can grow as the company grows.” Hilary likes the fact any questions can be answered with a simple call to Derek or Chris and “you don’t have to be on hold for an hour to some office in Toronto.” The company has also found having the coverage does help attract and retain good employees.

“We are a relatively small company and without the chamber plan, I don’t think we would be able to offer the same level of coverage we have now at an affordable price for both the company
and employees.”



Employee Assistance Program

Group Insurance | Office Health

Improve Morale with an Employee Assistance Program (EAP)

What if there was a way to help your employees deal with serious issues before they escalate into problems that keep them from work, or even turn into a disability claim?

Making an employee assistance program available to your employees can help to:

  • Reduce and manage employee absenteeism
  • Reduce healthcare and disability costs
  • Increase employee morale
  • Increase productivity and job performance
  • Reduce employee turnover and associated expenses

An EAP can create savings for you and provide your employees support when life’s challenges make it difficult to concentrate on work.

An Employee Assistance Program provides confidential, one-on-one counselling with a designated psychosocial professional for employees dealing with personal issues that include:

  • Job-related Issues
  • Eldercare Problems
  • Dependency Concerns
  • Marital & Family Issues
  • Other Personal Challenges

Private telephone consultation is also available for:

  • Financial & Legal Advice
  • Nutritional Counseling
  • Childcare Problems

Sitting is the new smoking

Blog | Office Health

You’ve probably heard the phrase “sitting is the new smoking”. Study after study has shown the more you sit, the poorer your health, no matter how fit you are.

We live in a society where we go from the car to our chair at work, to the dinner table, to parked on the couch in front of the television at home. All that time we spend sitting is linked to increased risks of heart disease, diabetes, cancer and death.

Your body was designed to move and sitting for an extended period of time causes your body to shut down at the metabolic level. A standing body uses energy differently than a sitting one: it burns calories at a different rate, stores them in different ways, and even our brains function differently.

The good news is standing, and movement in general, can reverse the effects of sitting. If you were to stand at work, you would burn approximately an extra 50 calories an hour. If you stood for three hours a day for five days a week over the course of a year, that’s about 30,000 extra calories, or around 8 pounds of fat.

Obviously, it’s not practical for everyone to stand up while they work. So what can we do? Here are some ideas:

• Take hourly breaks. Every hour, get up and move. Walk through the workplace to the furthest bathroom, printer, water cooler, colleague’s desk.

• Stretch or move in place. Don’t have anywhere to go? Touch your toes, walk or march in place for a few minutes, or do some stretching.

• Walk at lunch. Use half to eat, half to walk. Round up a few colleagues and make it a weekly date.

• Ditch the car. When possible, walk, bike, run to work or when doing errands. Park far away from your destination and walk part of the way. Or get off the bus several stops early.

• Stand when you talk. If you can, try standing up to talk on the phone. When you’re at home, or if you’re on a cell phone, walk around while chatting


Making an LTD Claim? What you need to ask your doctor to include in their report?

Group Insurance | Long Term Disability

A common piece of information that We’ve seen requested over and over again from Long Term Disability Claims(LTD) assessors is “DATES”

After every appointment with a doctor that pertains to a Long Term Disability Claim(LTD) ask the doctor to include the following information and your claim will have less of a chance of being returned requesting more information.

First Most important date:

Date of Injury or Illness – sometimes a difficult date to define, but one that many of your benefits hinge on knowing. A doctors statement of first visit for the illness or injury helps establish any waiting periods that need to be satisfied for benefits to be paid.

Keep asking for these dates at each appointment!

1. Expected Date of Return to work – When the doctor is meeting with you have them make an assessment of the date you should be able to return to work based on your visit today (Maybe the same date but have her/him explain that in their report.

Doctors often forget to include..

2. Date of next planned test or evaluation – sometimes we know things in our head, and when we tell a story we don’t put some of the detail into the story, because we know the information but when you don’t know that information it needs to be explicitly explained. I know Doctors are busy with many patients and situations in their heads that this information sometimes gets lost but it’s a critical point for LTD Assessors.

Your situation can change and maybe one doctor said your return to work date should be the 1st of April, a week later a doctor (The same or different) may make an assessment of your return to work being the 30th of April. This information needs to be sent to the Assessor for payments to not be interrupted. (Have them include information on why that assessment is made ie. test results)

From the time of your original claim until a decision is made you may have more information remember that a claim on LTD is an ongoing situation. It’s not make a claim and your done, follow up appointments to doctors will require the information passed along to Assessors for them to monitor the situation.

Also the opposite is true too, if your date is assessed as a sooner return to work date getting that information to assessor will stop payments and ensure you don’t owe money back.

Your benefits advisor is the best person to work with, they have no control over claims that are paid but know the process, working with them is your best bet to getting the payment you deserve.

Disability benefits are of huge importance and protect your ability to earn and income in the case of an injury or illness, fraudulent claims increase the cost of these products for everyone, these policies and procedures ensure the claims process is designed to ensure claims are paid out as per the conditions of the contract and fraudulent claims are not.

Passwords – change is good!

Blog | Business Technology

Everything you do these days seems to require a password. Unfortunately, many people don’t realize the potential ramifications of not creating a strong enough lock on their information. Identity theft, credit applications in your name, and access to your financial accounts are just some of the risks you face if your passwords are stolen. In September 2016, Yahoo disclosed that 500 million user accounts were hacked in 2014. In December 2016, they also disclosed that a separate attack in 2013 opened up more than 1 billion accounts. That means a hacker had a copy of the customer/user database containing:

  • Login IDs
  • Email addresses associated with the accounts
  • Passwords (or enough information from which the password can be determined)
  • Password hints

Hackers are smart, but the software they use is even smarter – and significantly faster. Weak passwords make their work easy. Splash Data released survey results that show the most commonly used passwords in North America are “123456” and “password”. Once they have a set of usernames and passwords, the hacker (or the criminal to whom they sell data) scans the Internet to find the same combinations on other sites, allowing them to reset banking passwords, reset social media and email passwords, access cell phone accounts, and even read confidential information. With access to your information, they have the ability to expose (or fabricate) things about you through your own social media account that could jeopardize your employment, your relationships and your social standing. Here is what top minds in information technology say you should do to avoid having your password compromised.

  • Use a unique password for each account. Use different passwords for each of your important accounts, like email and online banking. Otherwise a hacker, who figures out your password for one less-secure account, could get access to your personal information, online shopping, banking, etc. There are a number of online tools, such as 1Password and LastPass that can help you manage and protect your list. You can also use your browser’s password collection and security function.
  • Use a mix of letters, capitalization, numbers and symbols. An eight-character password with numbers, symbols and mixed-case letters has 30,000 times as many possible combinations as a password with only lower case letters.
  • Don’t use personal information or common words. Create a unique password that’s unrelated to your personal information. Try using a random word or phrase and insert letters, numbers and symbols to add difficulty (such as “sPo0kyh@ll0w3En”).
  • Never click on an emailed link to change your password. When asked to update your personal information on a site, never click on a supplied link. A hacker might be phishing for your information by sending you to a bogus site. Always go to the site through your browser and log in that way.
  • Change your passwords regularly. Changing your password regularly will make it more difficult for a hacker to guess what it is. Keep a record of your passwords, just in case you forget them, in a secure place away from your computer.
  • Turn on two-factor authentication. When accessing your account, a two-factor authentication means that after you put in a password, the company will contact you by email or text for confirmation that you are accessing the site. Use this for all sites that support it! Even if a hacker gets your password, they won’t be able to access your account.


Disability Benefits Don’t have to be ‘Taxing’

Blog | Group Insurance | Insurance Rules

When your firm offers employee disability benefits, it’s worth thinking about the tax consequences. The choices you make will determine whether employees will have to pay income tax on disability benefit payments they receive from your group plan. If you, the employer, pay any part of a disability premium, the employee will be required to pay tax on benefits received. It doesn’t matter whether your firm pays 100% of the premium or splits the premium payment with employees; an employee who receives disability benefits will owe income tax on those benefits.
As a result, most firms arrange to have employees pay the entire disability premium. If your firm still decides to pay some, or all, of the premium, make sure your employees understand the tax
consequences of any disability benefits they receive. Though insurance companies may deduct tax from disability payments, it may not cover the entire tax liability.

The Chambers Plan online administration utility includes an Employee Deduction Calculator that easily manages cost sharing arrangements with employees that can minimize any tax liability on disability payments.
Setting up your benefit plan doesn’t have to be complicated, but it’s definitely worthwhile to work with a competent group insurance advisor who’s familiar with the possible pitfalls. And,
once you’ve chosen your plan’s benefits, a good employee communication program will ensure your staff know about the valuable coverages available to them.


Benefit Facts presents information to help you manage your employee benefits. Brought to you by your Chambers of Commerce Group Insurance Plan® advisor, representing Canada’s premier group plan for small and medium sized business.

Chamber Claims Report

Blog | Group Insurance

To get a copy of your Claims History for your taxes please follow these steps​

  1. Login to
  2. Click on “Claims History” in the left menu
  3. Then Click “Claims Summary Report” Make sure you select the dates for the time period you wish to run ie. From 2016 01 To 2016 12
  4. A report will be generated with your claims print or save and get to the person that does your taxes!

Who Pays? What to do when both spouses have coverage!

Blog | Group Insurance | Insurance Rules

Claims for Dependent Children
When both parents have plans and their children are covered under both as
dependents, the plan of the parent with the earlier birth date in the calendar
year pays first.

Example 1:
• Father’s birthday – October 11
• Mother’s birthday – September 21
Therefore – Mother’s plan pays first – Mother’s birthdate comes before Father’s in
the calendar year.
If both parents have the same birth date, the plan paying first is based on the
parent’s given name that occurs first in the alphabet.

Example 2:
• Mom’s given name is Jane
• Dad’s given name is Stephen
Therefore – Jane’s plan pays first – the name Jane comes first alphabetically.
In cases of Single Custody i.e., when one parent has custody of the child(ren),
the plan of the parent with whom the child resides, i.e., the plan of the parent with
custody, pays first.
The plan of the spouse of the parent with custody pays second.
The plan of the parent not having custody pays third.

Example 3:
A child lives with mother and her new spouse.
Therefore – Mother’s plan pays first.
Mother’s spouse’s plan pays second.
Father’s plan pays third.
In cases of Joint Custody i.e., when both parents have plans and their children are
covered under both as dependents, the plan of the parent with the earlier birth date
in the calendar year pays first. (See Example 1 on the previous page.)

This information comes from CHLIA Click here for more informaiton