With over 150 life insurance companies in the Canada, it can be overwhelming to find the best one.
At Dundas Life, we've spent 100s of hours reviewing industry data, pricing, and third-party ratings to find the best insurers at affordable cost (or costs). Each top life insurance provider is grouped in specific categories based on their strengths and weaknesses. In this article, you will learn a lot about largest life insurance companies in the country.
Best Life Insurance Companies in Canada
- Best for Affordability: Wawanesa and Assumption
- Best for Couples: Desjardins, Manulife, and Industrial Alliance
- Best for Seniors: Equitable
- Best for Smokers: Foresters
- Best for People with Medical Conditions: Canada Protection Plan
- Best for the Most Coverage: The Royal Bank of Canada (RBC) and Manulife
- Best for Flexibility: Empire Life
- Best for Term Life: RBC and Industrial Alliance
- Best for Whole Life: Manulife and Sun Life
- Honourable Mention: Canada Life
We used these factors to choose Canada's best life insurance companies of 2022:
- Price: How much does life insurance cost compared to competitors?
- Financial Strength: Is the provider financially healthy? How does their long-term financial forecast look?
- Time to Approval: How much time does the life insurance company take to approve applications for life insurance?
- Trustworthiness: How good is the provider when it comes to settling claims? What do their customers say about them?
- No Medical Options: Does the insurer only offer traditional plans or are no-medical options available?
- Coverage Amount: Does the life insurance company only offer small death benefits, or can you purchase $1 million or more in coverage?
What is life insurance and how does it work?
Life insurance is a legally binding contract between you and an insurer. You agree to pay the life insurance premiums, and, in return, the life insurance carrier promises to pay a specific amount to your beneficiaries and family upon death. In essence, life insurance protects your loved ones from the potential financial impact or damage when you pass away and provides your family, parents, and partner peace of mind and future security. The payout can help anyone replace some, or all your income, and pay off loans. This can ensure they are able to live comfortably after you’re gone, and ensures that they have nothing financially to worry about.
Death can come from anywhere at anytime, even from activities like sports that put a player at risk. It is imperative you keep that in mind throughout the course of this blog post and plan out your family's future with us.
Types of life insurance
There are different types of life insurance policies to suit different needs, preferences, and budget requirements. These include:
Term Life Insurance
Term life insurance come with an expiry date and have one goal — to pay the death benefit. The policy term can be as short as one year, or as long as 40 years in duration. In the event you pass away during the term life insurance policy term, the life insurance carrier will pay the death benefit to your beneficiaries. If you outlive the term, there will be no payout. However, most providers allow you to renew the term life insurance plan without a medical check renewal, up to a specific age. Term life insurance coverage options do not include additional bells and whistles, like cash value. They do have fixed level monthly payments. This makes them generally more affordable, resulting in more savings.
Permanent Life Insurance
Permanent life insurance policies offer coverage you cannot outlive. It is the closest thing to ‘buy it, forget it’ life insurance, because you do not have to renew the permanent life insurance policy again. Policyholders will be relieved to know that all their liability and debt should be taken care along with their loved ones in case something were to happen to them. Many permanent life insurance policies also include an investment component, called cash value. Funds in this account grow tax-deferred, and you can access them anytime you like. Generally speaking, permanent life insurance options are six to 10 times costlier than term life insurance. The two most common types of permanent life insurance coverage are whole life insurance and universal life insurance.
Whole Life Insurance
There are many different types of investment products, each with its own unique set of features and benefits. One popular type of investment product is a Whole life insurance plan that gives you lifelong coverage and an investment tool to accumulate money on a tax-deferred basis. A part of your premium goes to cover the whole life insurance cost and administrative fees, while the remainder funds the built-in investment account. A part of your premium goes to cover the whole life insurance cost and administrative fees, while the remainder funds the built-in investment account.
Universal Life Insurance
Universal life insurance is a permanent life insurance plan that provides lifetime protection. The main difference between universal life and whole life insurance is that the former offers you better control over how your money is invested. It also gives you a certain degree of freedom regarding your premium payments and death benefit. You can increase or reduce your payment within permissible limits if need be. Compared to whole life insurance, universal plans are more complex and require closer monitoring, especially in changing market conditions.
No Medical Life Insurance
No-medical life insurance does not require a medical exam to prove insurability. This makes it easier to qualify for if you have a health condition, and fast-tracks the application process. The process can be as fast as 5 minutes. On the downside, no-medical policies are generally more expensive than fully underwritten plans. They usually also have smaller payouts with no medical exams for higher risk applicants.
Simplified Issue Life Insurance
Simplified issue life insurance doesn’t involve a medical, but you will have to answer a few health questions when you apply. The insurer will decide your eligibility and set your premium rate based on your answers. These policies often include a waiting period — which is typically two years. If you pass away during this time, the insurer will not pay the death benefit; instead, it will refund the life insurance premiums you have already paid.
Guaranteed Issue Life Insurance
Guaranteed issue does not require taking a medical exam, nor answering health questions (medical underwriting) to prove eligibility. As such, life insurance coverage is guaranteed with no risks or difficulty getting coverage as long as you are under certain ages. However, the death benefit amount is rather small. It estimates between $25,000 to $50,000. Most people take a guaranteed acceptance life insurance policy to cover end-of-life expenses or to leave a small legacy to their children or grandchildren.
How do I buy life insurance in Canada?
You can purchase life insurance canadian online, through a broker, or through an agent. Whichever way you buy, make sure you shop around to ensure you as an applicant are getting the best value for money.
Directly through an insurance company.
You can do so much online these days: order food, book a holiday, look at past employees, rate your previous employer — and even buy life insurance. Buying life insurance online directly from the provider is simple, easy, and quick. If you know what you need and do not need help from a life insurance agent or broker, it may be right way to go.
Through an independent broker.
Life insurance brokers act as an intermediary between insurance companies and consumers. A good rule of thumb: nrokers represent buyers, not insurance providers. This means that they should be able to offer you unbiased advice based on your needs.
Through an independent local insurance agent.
Like independent brokers, life insurance agents act as an intermediary between insurance providers and buyers. Some agents represent only one company and are called captive agents. Others work as independent agents, meaning they represent several providers. Since an independent agent works with many carriers, they can offer you more options. More life insurance options can mean lower premiums for you. However, all insurance agents represent insurance providers, not buyers. So, they might not always offer unbiased advice.
How to choose a life insurance company and policy
Life insurance needs are rarely one-size-fits-all. No single provider can be the top insurance option for everyone. Determining your needs, health, and budget will help you decide which type of life insurance work best for you. Then, you can start looking for a suitable provider. A good rule of thumb is to look into companies with higher market capitalization as this generally shows that the business has been around longer. If your family struggles financially already, be on the look out for discounts or tools to help reduce your costs.
For example, if you need life insurance protection only until retirement, you may be better off considering a term life insurance plan. But if you want life insurance for estate preservation purposes, a permanent life insurance policy may be the right option since the payout is guaranteed. On the other hand, someone with a serious medical illness may want to opt for a no-medical life insurance policy. Not sure which type of life insurance product is best for you? Consider speaking to an independent broker, agent, or a representative at Dundas Life, who will help you identify the right solution.
Next, compare quotes from multiple providers and make a list of Canada's best insurance options. To simplify your search, we have listed the best providers for specific categories of adults.
Best Life Insurance Companies for Affordability
Headquartered in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Wawanesa Insurance offers a number of different types of insurance, including home, auto, farm, commercial business and life insurance. They were founded in 1896, and have strong financial health, according to their AM rating. Compared to their competitors, they offer one of the most affordable life insurance policies.
|Solid ratings||No online application|
|Long company history||Has a limited product line|
|Has a variety of options for term lengths available||Not offered by many insurance brokers|
|Highest guaranteed cash values for whole life insurance||No disability insurance|
|Competitive pricing for policies||Only offers quick issue critical illness policies|
|An attractive guaranteed issue life insurance plan|
Assumption Life was founded in 1903 and are now based in Moncton, New Brunswick. They have grown steadily since then, now with over $1.7 billion in assets. They are most known for their no-medical term life insurance policy, however they offer a number of insurance solutions for all Canadians. They offer a variety of affordable life insurance.
|Very competitive pricing and generous exchange options||No standalone disability policy|
|Quick turnaround time for policies||Not much critical illness coverage available|
|Great selection of life insurance products, with a wide range of no-medical solutions|
|Offers non-smoking rate for occasional marijuana smokers|
Best Life Insurance Companies for Couples
Find the best rates
The Desjardins Group is one of the largest financial institutions in Canada founded in the province of Quebec, with over 20 subsidiaries. They offer a wide range of insurance products and services, such as life and general insurance, venture capital, securities brokerage and asset management. Desjardins Financial Security is the branch that life insurance falls in, and they have over 6,000 advisors that can help you find a policy. Couples, business partners, or owners of many businesses can split a joint policy into two individual permanent life insurance plans if their needs change in the future. Available for three term life insurance plans — Term 10, Term 20, and Term 30.
|Long and impressive history||Term life insurance products are not the most affordable|
|Large array of life insurance products||Their website is not very informative|
|Top-class critical illness coverage||Not possible to get an online quote|
|Multiple people can be covered under one policy|
Manulife is the largest, and one of the oldest life insurance companies in Canada. They are best known for their term life insurance policies and offer a variety of them to suit the unique needs of Canadians. The insurance rates of Manulife are generally best for people looking for coverage under $400,000, and who are in good health. Manulife’s combined coverage policy is a highly regarded plan for couples.
|Financials are very strong||Term life premium rates are not the most affordable|
|Impressive range of products||Does not specialize in a specific type of life insurance|
|Digital policy option||Limited joint-first-to-die options|
|Early payout options with accelerated underwriting|
|Can save on future premiums through Manulife Vitality|
Industrial Alliance is a wealth management company headquartered in Quebec—with cities like Montreal—that sells financial products across North America. They are ranked among the top 5 life insurance companies in Canada and provide a plethora of life insurance options (most notably Access Life for no medical life insurance) that are suitable for people with a variety of different lifestyles.
|Financially stable||No digital policy options|
|Great selection of life insurance products with competitive rates||Must create an account to access policy|
|Pick-a-Term feature: you can choose your own term life insurance policy length|
|Unique coverage for children – combines whole life and child life|
Best for Seniors
Equitable Life of Canada was founded in 1920 and specializes in life insurance and group benefit plans. It has a great life insurance policy for seniors, up to the age of 85.
|Long and stable financial history||Limited product selection (only three term life insurance plans)|
|Life coverage can be combined with critical illness coverage||Mid-range premium rates|
|Preferred clients automatically eligible for critical illness insurance|
|Online account access is available|
Best Life Insurance Company for Smokers
Foresters Life Insurance is known for their more affordable life insurance policies. Since being founded in 1874, they have over 3 million clients across Canada, the United States and the United Kingdom. They offer a competitive plan for smokers, and they also have a Quit Smoking Incentive Plan which will allow former smokers to have lower rates on their life insurance policy.
|Financially strong||Term life insurance is not as affordable as other insurers|
|Variety of coverage terms||No online quote|
|Possible to convert term plan to permanent plan|
|Unique community membership benefits, including orphan benefit program|
Best Life Insurance Company for Pre-existing Medical Conditions
Canada Protection Plan
Canada Protection Plan is a relatively young name in the life insurance industry. Founded in 1992, they specialize primarily in simplified issue, and no medical exam life insurance policies. Their guaranteed acceptance life policy does not involve a medical exam or medical underwriting and is targeted towards individuals who otherwise may not qualify for life insurance, because of their medical conditions.
|Quick turnaround – approval within 72 hours||Premium rates are generally higher than other insurers|
|Largest range of no medical life insurance plans in Canada||No universal life insurance policy|
|Many term lengths available||Coverage amount capped at $1 million|
|Do not have to be a Canadian citizen to be eligible for coverage|
|Many permanent and critical illness plans|
Best Life Insurance Companies for the Most Coverage
The Royal Bank of Canada (RBC) is one of Canada’s most trusted and well-known insurance providers. They are the largest bank-owned insurance providers in Canada, with over four million customers, and a plethora of life insurance policies. YourTerm Life Insurance is RBC banks flagship product, and it offers coverage up to $25,000,000, with term life insurance lengths ranging from 10 to 40 years.
|Strong financial standing||Expensive for smokers|
|Can pick your own term length with the YourTerm plan||Only available to Canadian citizens or permanent residents|
|Affordable term life policy|
|Great selection of products|
Manulife is the largest life insurance company in Canada. Manulife’s Family Term Life and Business Term Life Insurance policies (business protection for business owners) both offer coverage up to $20,000,000. These two plans have the most coverage. However, their flagship product Manulife CoverMe only provides coverage up to $1,000,000.
The pros and cons of Manulife can be viewed above.
Best Life Insurance for Flexibility
Empire Life is among the top 10 largest life insurance companies in Canada today. They are very reputable, and have won the Life and Health Insurer of the Year title in 2019, as well as three times prior to this. They are generally very good with their pricing, and offer a variety of term life, permanent life, guaranteed life, critical illness insurance and many more.
|Financially strong||Does not provide an online quote|
|Wide range of life insurance products with fast approval||Joint-first-to-die policy option may be less affordable compared to their competitors|
|Competitive life insurance prices and Higher term life coverage|
Best for Term Life Insurance
RBC offers a number of term life insurance lengths, including 10, 15, 20, 30 and 40 year options. However, you also have the option to customize your term life length, as they allow you to pick any length between 10 and 40 years! They have competitive prices, and an impressive amount of coverage associated with their term life insurance policies, depending on which policy you choose.
The pros and cons of RBC can be viewed above.
Industrial Alliance (iA)
Similar to RBC, Industrial Alliance (iA) has a product called Pick-a-Term, where you can choose your own term life insurance length. They allow you to buy a policy that has a term life length anywhere from 10 to 40 years!
The pros and cons of iA can be viewed above.
Best Life Insurance Companies for Whole Life Insurance
Manulife is one of Canada’s largest insurance companies, and the first one to offer e-delivery of life insurance policies. A distinct feature is Manulife’s Vitality program. It lets you earn credit toward your program if you participate in a health program and demonstrate good lifestyle habits.
The pros and cons of Manulife can be viewed above.
Sun Life's headquarters are located in Toronto, Ontario, but is a huge international financial organization with a presence around the world. In addition to insurance, they are also well known in the wealth and asset management industry and sell their insurance products through over 112,000 advisors. Sun Life has an A+ AM Best financial stability rating.
|Financially strong||Term life policies are generally more expensive than their competitors|
|Many term life insurance plans available and can conver to a universal or whole life plan||No digital policy option available|
|Term plans are convertible up to age 75|
Best Value For Your Money Life Insurance
RBC has highly competitive rates while still being a leading life insurance provider in Canada. Their offerings include many options and flexibility for their customers as well. Going with RBC gives you insurance coverage from a trusted provider while keeping the prices similar to that of a smaller insurer.
Best for Bundling
Ivari is a well established Canadian life insurance company. They offer a wide selection of products and product combinations. They are a great option for individuals who want a highly customizable option for life insurance.
Best Life Insurance for Quick Issue Options
Humania speeds up the life insurance policy process with their online HuGo Life Insurance option. It is a quick and painless way for individuals to get life insurance from a trusted Canadian top provider.
Best life insurance for technology
As the largest life insurance company in Canada, Manulife has put in the effort to make the life insurance process easily accessible from your computer. They offer an electronic policy delivery that can provide you with up to 2 million dollars worth of coverage without leaving your house.
Best life insurance for customer service
As one of the largest life insurance providers in Canada, Sunlife has many branches located throughout Canada. Their experience allows them to make in-person insurance quick and easy for their customers.
Best for children
Foresters adds a child term rider to your insurance policy for no added cost. Their child term riders start at a face value of $10 000 but can go up to $50 000 once the child turns 16. It is a great option for parents who need life insurance, but are also considering it for their kids (riders are more affordable add-ons).
Best for giving back
Foresters life insurance suits individuals with ever changing life insurance needs. Their term life insurance options are easily exchangeable to longer term life plans as well as permanent life insurance policies. If you are looking for life insurance but, unsure which policy will last, Foresters life insurance policies with great term options are right for you.
Best for member benefits
Manulife Vitality is a unique life insurance product that few other life insurance companies offer. It provides many perks to it's customers beginning with a free Apple Watch and a discount (or discounts) to Goodlife Fitness just from signing up. Manulife Vitality awards points to customers for completing exercise and health goals each week. These points can be spent on many things such as an Amazon gift card. The choice of Manulife Vitality is perfect for individuals looking for life insurance that rewards you for being healthier.
Best life insurance for families
Equitable life is a reliable Canadian life insurance company that offers both term life and permanent life insurance policies. Headquartered in Ontario, it ranges to farther provinces like Alberta and BC. What stands out is that Equitable life provides multi-coverage for the same policy, meaning you and your family members will be content having coverage under the same contract which will help keep the life insurance average cost lower.
Tens of thousands of Canadians have selected Canada Life as their life insurance provider. They have a strong financial history, and currently boasts $219 million in assets. Although you cannot select your own policy term life insurance length, Canada Life does offer a 5-year policy. Which is incredibly rare, as most life insurance companies start at a 10-year policy. Canada Life has a product called Canada Life My Term life insurance, where a customer can choose their own policy length, from anywhere between five and 50 years, up to the age of 85.
Canada Life is a subsidiary of Great West Lifeco.
|Financially stable with a long history||Cannot customize your own term length|
|Four term life insurance lengths available||No e-delivery of policy, only available on paper|
|5-year term length and generous term exchange option|
|Wide range of insurance products with competitive rates and multiple rider options available|
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the best type of life insurance in Canada?
While there is no one-size-fits-all answer, term to 100 life is seen as the perfect mix of both term life insurance and permanent life plans. Term to 100 is a permanent life policy that you only have to pay until you turn 100. Even though it is permanent life insurance coverage, the premiums are lower than other permanent life insurance plans. The reason for this is that there is no accumulated cash value with term to 100.
What is the most trusted life insurance company in Canada?
Both Sun life and Manulife rank at the top of trusted life insurance providers and a long history in Canada. With their experience, popularity and credibility, you can buy a policy from either of them and feel secure about your plan.
How much life insurance coverage do I need?
It is generally recommended that you purchase an insurance policy with a face value somewhere around 7-10 times your annual salary.
How much does life insurance cost?
Here are life insurance quotes for standard non-smokers with a term-20 life insurance plan and $250 000 of coverage. The cost will depend on age, gender, and overall health.
At what age should you stop buying term life insurance?
Since term life insurance only lasts for a specific amount of time, it may be hard to know what length of term insurance is right for you. The answer is to have a term life plan for as long as you have high expenses that would hurt your family's peace of mind if you were to pass. Many individuals keep a term insurance policy for as long as they have mortgage payments and then discontinue life insurance after that.
Should I buy a permanent insurance policy or a term insurance policy?
Your insurance policy should depend on your life insurance goals. If you need life insurance because you have outstanding debts that will not last forever (like a mortgage on a property) but, your family and dependents would struggle to pay on their own, term insurance is right for you. If you want life insurance to pay for funeral expenses or leave a lump sum of money when you pass, a permanent life insurance option would better suit your coverage needs.
Is Disability Insurance worth it?
When you can't work, disability insurance kicks in. It might provide you with tax-free monthly income to assist you pay your bills if you are unable to work due to illness, disability, or an accident.
When is Travel Insurance worth it?
Travel insurance is worthwhile to consider if:
- Your trip's expense is far greater than you can afford to lose.
- You travel internationally.
- You are visiting a distant location with few close health care services or health insurance.
- Your journey will include connecting flights or several destinations to travel.
- When going overseas, you want to be compensated for Covid-related cancellations and medical issues.
- You want to be reimbursed for your loss in part if you have to cancel your trip or return home early for whatever reason.
When is Car Insurance worth it?
Auto Insurance (or car insurance) provides sufficient protection for your vehicle in the event of an accident, theft, or other covered incidents. It is worthwhile to consider if:
- You can afford it as it can be expensive, so you should only purchase coverage that you can afford and that fits within your budget.
- You own a car as it's usually required by law to have at least liability coverage.
- You drive frequently, which creates greater risk of getting into an accident.
- You have assets to protect like a home or savings (e.g. RRSP or TFSAs), car insurance can provide liability coverage—like your mortgages, credit card (or credit cards) payment to your creditor and other liabilities—to protect you from being sued in the event that you are found at fault in an accident.
- You have a loan on your car as the lender may require that you have comprehensive and collision coverage to protect their investment.
What is an underwriter?
One who oversees the underwriting of insurance policies is called a "underwriter." An underwriter represents the insurance company they work for, not the buyer.
No single provider offers the number one life insurance in Canada to everyone and their family. Life insurance needs are unique and each provider is different and has different coverage amounts. The life insurance (or car insurance) company that works best for your friend or anyone else may not work for you.
Before you start searching for an insurance company, first determine the factors that are most important to you. Additionally, regardless of whether you want to buy life insurance online, through an agent, or through a broker, grab as many quotes as possible.
At Dundas Life, we work with top-ranking Canadian Life Insurers. An insurance advisor can provide further information, details and tips and can help you find a quote that suits both your long-term financial goals, earning ability, and your current budget. Dundas Life is the perfect place for applicants to locate the greatest life insurance products for your specific situation, online or over the phone.
It is important to provide your loved ones a peace of mind, and future security.
Why You Should Trust Us
Our team invested more than 100 hours in researching, evaluating, and reviewing the top life insurance companies in Canada to find the best ones. Want to learn about the reviews other life insurance companies, or looking for more options?
You can find reviews for other top Canadians insurance companies below:
- Costco Life
- American Income Life
- TD Life
- Scotia Life
- Specialty Life
- Primerica Life
- CUMIS Life
- Assurant Life
- Canadian Premier Life
- La Capitale Life
- BMO Life
- Co-operators Life
- BCAA Life
- Blue Cross Life
- CIBC Life
- SSQ Life
- UV Life
- National Bank Life
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