Best Life Insurance Companies in Canada [2021 Guide]

Life Insurance, Life Insurance Quotes, Life Insurance Advisors

Best Life Insurance Companies in Canada [2021 Guide]

Achieving your financial goals is all about planning. Life insurance is an important tool in your wealth building strategy because it protects your loved ones if you pass away unexpectedly. A well-rounded policy can help your family:

  • Maintain their standard of living by replacing your income

  • Protect your children’s future by covering their education expenses

  • Cover expenses related to your home

  • Pay your funeral costs

  • Cover estate tax liabilities allowing assets to remain such as a 2nd home or cottage

  • Transfer wealth most tax efficiently to next generation

  • Allow an alternative tax sheltered investment vehicle

  • Leave a legacy

If you own a business, your life insurance policy can also:

  1. Pay debts and ongoing expenses related to operating the business
  2. Fund a buy/sell agreement to seamlessly transition the business
  3. Protect it against financial hardship due to the unexpected loss of a key person
  4. Pay any tax liabilities beyond the capital gains exemption
  5. Transfer retained earnings within the corporation most tax efficiently
  6. Provide a tax sheltered investment vehicle for the corporation
  7. Provide assurance to lenders and suppliers of business continuance and ability to meet financial obligations
  8. Provide a corporate asset to be leveraged to expand the business operations

How Much Life Insurance Coverage Do You Actually Need?

Despite these advantages, a recent survey has found that over 90% of Canadians are severely under-insured. An estimated 49% of those with dependants said they had never taken out life insurance. Of those who stated that they did have a policy, 40% were only covered by a workplace or group benefits plan.

This can be problematic because:

  • Coverage tends to be minimal and rarely covers more than two years of your salary

  • If you leave your job or association, you lose coverage

What type of life insurance plan should I buy?

When you take out life insurance from a trusted and reputable provider, the policy follows you from one career opportunity to the next, giving you peace of mind and ensuring that your family is always protected.

Depending on the company you work with, your options include:

This type of policy pays a death benefit if you die before reaching a certain age (e.g., 65) or within a specific time frame, such as 10 or 20 years. The insurance company will generally establish your premiums, which may increase over time.

You are covered throughout your lifetime and your family receives a payment if you die while the policy is in effect. Furthermore, these policies can provide access to cash values for your family or business during your lifetime.  Types of permanent life insurance include participating whole life, which allows you to share the profits of the insurance company while providing permanent coverage, and universal life, which combines permanent life insurance with flexible investment account options.

Many life insurers also offer disability insurance, which offers financial protection for you and your family in the event that an unexpected illness or injury prevents you from earning an income. Depending on the policy, it can cover up to 85% of your usual income (up to a maximum amount).

This type of insurance covers the costs that can arise from a life-changing illness. If you become sick from a covered illness, you’ll receive a cash payment at the end of a specified waiting period.

Do you have further questions about life insurance?

Check out our ‘Frequently Asked Questions’ or contact Protect Your Wealth to learn more about our insurance options.

What are the best life insurance companies in Canada?

If you’re not sure where to start, below is a list of the best insurance companies that we currently recommend to clients, along with an overview of their products.

1.  BMO Insurance

BMO Insurance is a member of BMO Financial Group, one of Canada’s largest banks. It’s widely known and has some of the most competitive pricing in the insurance industry. BMO term life insurance plans cover you for $100,000 to $5,000,000 for term periods of 10, 15, 20, 25 or 30 years while its three permanent life insurance plans provide coverage of anywhere from $50,000 to $5,000,000.

2.  Canada Life

Canada Life is a subsidiary of the Canada Life Assurance Company and one of the three largest and oldest life insurance companies in the country. It has a wide range of life insurance offerings that make it a provider of choice to millions of Canadian consumers since 1847. In 2020, Great-West Life Assurance Company, London Life were Canada Life consolidated under the Canada Life brand name.

Term life policies are available for 10, 20 and 30 years and up to age 65 with guaranteed premiums. There is a minimum coverage requirement of $25,000, and the policy can be converted into one of Canada Life’s permanent plan options, which are participating whole life or universal life.  Canada Life’s participating whole life insurance has paid policy holders an annual dividend since 1848 making it the oldest such product in Canada. 

3.  Canada Protection Plan (CPP)

Canada Protection Plan is a leading life insurance provider with a simplified underwriting process that requires no medical exams on many of its plans. Its term life insurance plans offer protection for periods of 10, 20, 25, or 30 years, all of which are convertible to a permanent plan until age 70. Coverage of up to $1,000,000 available, even for applicants who are traditionally hard to insure.  CPP also provides no medical critical illness coverage for upto $100,000 and may be available to those even with a pre-existing condition. 

4.  Empire Life

Empire Life was incorporated in 1923 and is a subsidiary of E-L Financial Corporation Limited. Term insurance plans are for 10, 20, 25, and 30 years, with a special plan available for those seeking affordable temporary insurance. Joint first to die and multi-life policies are some of the most competitive in the marketplace.  

All term products are convertible into one of Empire Life’s permanent insurance plans, one of which has a potential for dividends. The company also offers a guaranteed issue permanent life plan with coverage of up to $50,000 and no medical questions asked. Furthermore term policies allow critical illness coverage to be added as an additional benefit in 10 and 20 year terms.

5.  Foresters Financial 

Foresters Financial (previously known as Foresters Life)  was founded in 1874 to provide average, working families with access to life insurance. Foresters is unique in that it is a ‘fraternal organization’ and all policyholders become members. Member benefits, which are included at no additional cost) include invites to member-only events and volunteer initiatives throughout the year aimed at helping local communities. 

Its term life products, which cover periods of 10, 20, and 30 years, are unique in that they include a charity benefit: when a claim is paid to your beneficiary, Foresters will pay an additional 1% of the claim amount to a registered charitable organization that you designate. The permanent life insurance option, Advantage Plus Whole Life, is a participating product, which means it has the potential for dividends.

6.  Humania Assurance

Based in Quebec, Humania Assurance (previously LS Mutual) has been providing Canadians with life insurance options since 1874. Its flexible term insurance products are renewable every 10, 15, 20, 25, or 30 years and at 80 years of age, and you have until age 65 to convert your plan into a permanent one. There is even an Insurance Without Medical Exam option for people who have had difficulty in obtaining life insurance.

7.  Industrial Alliance 

Industrial Alliance (IA) is one of the largest insurance and wealth management groups in Canada, with operations in the United States and is a part of IA Financial Group. Industrial Alliance Excellence Life Insurance Company has merged with IA to offer an expanded range of product offerings.

Its term life insurance products are available in terms of 10 to 40 years, offer coverage of up to $500,000 or $10,000,000, depending on plan, and can be converted to permanent life insurance before you turn 71. Permanent life insurance options include universal and participating plans, with coverage amounts of up to $10,000,000 depending on plan chosen.  Simplified issue and guaranteed issue solutions are also available for upto $500,000  in coverage.

8.  Ivari

Formerly the Canadian branch of Transamerica Life, Ivari has been providing Canadians with life insurance protection for over 80 years. It is 100% owned through a subsidiary of the Canada Pension Plan.

Term life insurance is available in 10, 20- or 30-year terms. You pay a set premium for the term period you purchased and can layer the plan with universal life or critical illness protection. If your needs change, you can convert your term policy to a permanent plan.

9.  Manulife

Founded in 1887, Manulife is the largest insurer in Canada and one of the few life insurers with electronic policy delivery. It uses a predictive analytics process to approve up to $2,000,000 in coverage without medical underwriting being necessary. Being a larger company,

Manulife offers various term life products that serve specific purposes, such as Family Term for families and Business Term for business owners. Manulife Vitality is an unique rewards based insurance offering providing incentives to stay fit while offering potential reduction in insurance premiums.

Term plans, which are available for 10 years or 20 years or until age 65 or 100, can be converted into permanent coverage before you turn 70.  Manulife offers Universal Life products which provide lower management fees and access to industry leading portfolio managers and participating whole life insurance. 

10.  RBC Insurance

RBC Insurance is the insurance arm of the Royal Bank of Canada, the largest bank in the country. Its flagship term life product is YourTerm, which allows you to choose any term you want, between 10-40 years, instead of confining you to predefined terms. RBC Insurance also offers Simplified Term Life Insurance, which requires no medical exam and covers you for up to $1,000,000. This product can be converted into a universal life policy without providing additional medical evidence.

11.  SSQ Insurance

SSQ Insurance, which has merged with La Capitale Life Insurance, is one of Canada’s newest insurance companies, having started in 1944. It is also one of the largest, with over three million policyholders.

The Term Plus product insures you for up to $10,000,000 for terms of 10, 15, 20, 25, 30, 35 or 40 years, and you can easily exchange your policy for a higher term without having to provide proof of insurability. You can also convert it to permanent life insurance, up to age 70. 

Three permanent life insurance options are available: traditional, simplified (receive your policy is as little as 60 minutes with no medical exam) and universal. A new simplified issue (up to $500,000) and guarantee issue (up to $50,000) were launched in the summer of 2020.

12.  Sun Life Insurance

Sun Life Insurance, founded in 1865, is one of the world’s largest life insurance companies. Its standard product, SunTerm, is offered in 10, 15, 20 and 30-year terms with guaranteed premiums and a minimum coverage amount of $250,000. Other term policies are: 

  • SunSpectrum, which has a lower minimum coverage amount of $50,000
  • Go Term Life, which is easy to apply for and covers you for anywhere from $100,000 to $1,000,000
  • Go Simplified Term, which provides small coverage amounts for those who may not qualify for traditional medically underwritten products 

Sun Life’s permanent life insurance options are traditional, universal, and whole life. Depending on the plan chosen, coverage amount starts at $50,000 or $250,000, and premium amounts are guaranteed. 

13. CIBC Insurance

CIBC Insurance can trace its roots back to May 15, 1867, when the Canadian Bank of Commerce was founded. It offers pure term (including guaranteed acceptance term) and permanent life insurance.

The term product is available for 10-year or 20-year terms for amounts ranging from $50,000 to $5,000,000, with the monthly premium being guaranteed for each term. Coverage ends at age 75 but can be extended by changing your term to one that lasts for your lifetime. In addition, if you are diagnosed with a terminal illness and have less than 10 months to live, you can receive 50% of your coverage amount up to $250,000 during your lifetime.

The CIBC Guaranteed Acceptance Life Insurance product is available to those between the ages of 40 and 74 and pays up to $25,000, which can help cover any final expenses you leave behind.

14. Equitable Life Insurance Company of Canada

Founded in 1920, the Equitable Life Insurance Company of Canada product offerings include term insurance, Equimax participating whole life insurance policies, and the Equation Generation IV universal life insurance policy.

Equitable term life insurance offers a 10-year and 20-year term products that can be renewed every term until age 85. With Term 30/65, premiums are paid for 30 years or until you turn 65, whichever is later.

There are two Equimax participating whole life insurance policies: Equimax Estate Builder®, which can cover taxes and expenses after your death so that your estate is largely preserved for your beneficiaries and Equimax Wealth Accumulator®, which is recommended for building wealth that you can benefit from during your lifetime.

Equation Generation IV is a universal life insurance policy that comes in two types: Bonus, which provides guaranteed incentive and investment bonuses and Low Fees, which has an incentive bonus and lower management fees.

15. Primerica Life Insurance Company

The Primerica Life Insurance Company is a newer company, having been founded in 1986 after Primerica began offering affordable life term insurance. Its term life products are available in increments of 10, 15, 20, 25, 30 and 35 years, with coverage of up to $400,000. All policies have a “guaranteed insurability” option, so you can renew your policy without a new medical exam or application until age 95. 

16. Desjardins Financial Security Life Insurance

When it opened in 1948 as the Desjardins Life Assurance Company, Desjardins Insurance only sold individual life insurance. Today, it offers several products that include group insurance and retirement savings.

Desjardins term life insurance is available in terms of 10, 20, or 30 years or until age 65. You have the option of converting it to permanent coverage without having to pass a medical examination. 

With the participating life insurance product, you can decide whether to pay your premiums for 20 years or until age 100, and use any dividends to reduce your yearly premium or buy additional life insurance.

The Desjardins universal life insurance product includes a savings fund that you can use to cover future premiums or increase your coverage amount. After five years, the policy can be amended without penalty as your needs change and you can choose from over 30 diversified investment options.

17. Co-operators Life Insurance Company

The Co-operators Life Insurance Company was founded in 1945 after the Saskatchewan Wheat Pool contributed $25,000 to develop it. It quickly became the fastest-growing life insurance company in Canada: by 1950, it had a presence in most offices.

Term life products include Term Life 1, which provides up to $475,000 in coverage for those between the ages of 18 and 49, and Versatile Term™, which comes in 10, 15, 20, 25, or 30-year renewable terms. They have a guaranteed death benefit and the option to convert to a permanent policy without medical screening.

The whole life policy has guaranteed fixed premiums while providing investment returns from an asset portfolio controlled by the company while the universal life product provides lifetime coverage and investment options that you control. Premiums vary depending on coverage and investments chosen and there is a potential for higher returns.

18. Assumption Life

Assumption Life was founded in 1903 as the Fondation of Société l’Assomption in Waltham, Massachusetts. It started out as a fraternal benefit society and transitioned over the years into a leading and trusted life insurance provider.

The company has an extensive range of term life insurance products. FlexTerm covers individuals aged 18-75 for amounts ranging from $50,000 to $4,000,000. If your coverage is $499,999 or less, no medical exam is required. The other term policies are:

  • FlexOptions is available in terms of 15, 20 or 25 years. It includes a disability insurance option and can be converted into a permanent policy.
  • Youth Plus is for children aged 15 days to 17 years. Premiums stay the same for the life of the contract and coverage will not decrease until age 25.
  • No Medical Term Plus covers individuals aged 20-70 for $50,000 to $250,000. Like FlexOptions, it can be converted into a permanent policy.
  • No Medical Term covers individuals aged 20-70 for $50,000 to $150,000. No medical exam or attending physician statement are necessary.

Assumption Life’s permanent life products are equally extensive and customizable. 

  • Golden Protection covers policyholders aged 40-85 for up to $100,000 without a medical exam.
  • Total Protection insures people aged 18-80 for up to $50,000 with no medical exam and no waiting period for accidental death coverage.
  • No Medical Whole Life and No Medical Whole Life Plus covers individuals aged 20-70 for up to $150,000 and $250,000 respectively without any medical exam or blood tests.
  • Essential Whole Life offers coverage of up to $4,000,000 to individuals aged 18-75. No medical exam required.

There are two participating life insurance programs: ParPlus, which covers those aged 18-75 for up to $4,000,000 (payable over 20 years or for life) and ParPlus Junior, which insures young people aged 15 days-17 years for up to $4,0000,000 and pays over a 20-year period. Neither product requires a medical exam.

19. ScotiaLife Financial

Scotiabank has a long and respected history. Founded in 1832 in Halifax Nova Scotia, it moved its headquarters to Toronto in 1900. Today, it is the third-largest bank in Canada. In 2009, Scotiabank began offering insurance products through its subsidiary ScotiaLife Financial. 

Term life insurance is available in terms of 10 years, 20 years, and lifetime coverage. The 10 and 20-year terms are renewable up to age 75 and cover you for up to $250,000. The ScotiaLife Guaranteed Life product has no medical exam and offers lifelong coverage to policyholders aged 50-75. It also has a terminal illness and accidental death benefit to protect you and your loved ones from the unexpected.

20. TD Insurance

TD Insurance is part of the TD Bank Group, one of the largest financial services organizations in Canada. Since its founding in 1855, TD Bank Group has grown into a major financial services company, with offerings that include life insurance.

  • TD Term Life Insurance can provide coverage for 10 years, 20 years or for life. The 10 and 20-year plans renew automatically at the end of each term until you turn 80, or you can convert them to permanent coverage any time before age 69. Maximum insurable amount is $10 million.
  • TD Guaranteed Life Acceptance protects those aged 50-75 with $5,000 to $25,000, regardless of medical history. The premiums stay the same, and you no longer have to pay them after the age of 100.

21. UV Insurance

Founded in 1889 in Drummondville, Quebec, UV Insurance expanded into Ontario and New Brunswick in 2004. Its term life insurance products cover terms of 10, 20, or 30 years and can be renewed every 10 years until death at a guaranteed premium. Coverage range is $50,001 to $150,000. You can also convert your plan into permanent insurance until age 70, without evidence of insurability.

The permanent life insurance package offers whole life coverage of $5,000 to $150,000  to applicants aged 18-75 and does not require a medical examination. Should you need funds quickly, you can borrow against the surrender value.

How much does life insurance cost in Canada?

Your premiums will depend on age, gender, and whether or not you smoke or have existing health conditions.

Below are some example quotes for a 40-year-old male nonsmoker wanting to buy insurance for a 10-year term.

INSURANCE COMPANY

$1M OF LIFE INSURANCE

BMO Insurance

$52.20/month

Canada Life

$53.10/month

Canada Protection Plan (CPP)

$91.80/month

Empire Life

$52.20/month

Foresters Financial

$55.80/month

Industrial Alliance

$63.30/month

Ivari

$72.00/month

Manulife

$54.33/month

RBC

$51.48/month

SSQ Insurance

$54.00/month

Sun Life Insurance

$53.55/month

*Quotes based on standard rating, insured may qualify for preferred rates lowering premiums further

Overview and Ratings Guide

Below is an overview of the assets, credit rating, and outlook of leading life insurance companies in Canada. Information courtesy of AM Best Company.

COMPANY

RATING

FINANCIAL SIZE

CREDIT RATING

OUTLOOK

EFFECTIVE DATE

Assumption Life

A- (Excellent)

$50M - $100M

a-

Stable

11-Aug-20

BMO Insurance

A (Excellent)

$500M - $750M

a

Stable

29-Oct-20

Canada Life

A+ (Excellent)

$2B or Greater

aa

Stable

30-Sep-20

Canada Protection Plan (CPP)

A (Excellent)

$750M - $1B

a

Stable

12-Nov-20

Empire Life

A (Excellent)

$750M - $1B

a

Stable

24-Jun-20

Foresters Financial

A (Excellent)

$1B - $2B

a+

Stable

05-Aug-20

Industrial Alliance

A+ (Superior)

$2B or Greater

aa-

Stable

04-Mar-20

Ivari

A+ (Superior)

$750M - $1B

aa-

Stable

17-Jul-20

Manulife

Pending

$2B or Greater

a-

Stable

N/A

Primerica

A+ (Superior)

$500M - $750M

aa-

Stable

01-Oct-20

RBC

A (Excellent)

$1.25B - $1.5B

a+

Stable

21-Feb-20

SSQ Insurance

A (Excellent)

$500M - $750M

a-

Stable

30-Sep-20

Sun Life Insurance

A+ (Superior)

$2B or Greater

aa

Stable

04-Dec-19

Give Yourself Peace of Mind Knowing Your Family is Fully Protected For Life

Contact Protect Your Wealth today to learn more about your insurance options and to begin building an insurance package personalized to meet the needs of your family.

What’s the bottom line?

As you get married, start a family, and even establish a business, life insurance becomes a critical part of a sound financial plan.

According to the Canadian Life and Health Insurance Association, in 2019 over 90% of the benefits paid by its member companies were made to living policyholders, so it can protect your present as well as your family’s future.

In addition, the total benefits paid have increased over 60% from a decade ago, so it’s never been a better time to be covered.

At Protect Your Wealth, you can count on the personalized and award-winning advice you need to make the right coverage decision. For more information or to schedule a meeting about your financial or retirement planning needs, please contact us today or call 1-877-654-6119.