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The best life insurance companies in Canada 2020

by Mark Cluett
25 min read

Just like you, when we began looking for reviews for the best life insurance in Canada, our search turned up short. We figured we needed to provide readers with an informed checklist of what to look for when choosing the best insurance companies in Canada. PolicyAdvisor.com lets you stringently compare and shop for insurance rates, and we now extend our evaluation expertise to the best life insurance reviews in Canada.

Head straight to the reviews.

What exactly is life insurance?

Life insurance is an agreement between you and a life insurance provider, where if you die, they will pay a lump sum of tax-free money to someone you choose – also known as your beneficiary. In exchange, you agree to periodically pay your insurance provider a premium: a small amount of money over the length of your policy

What type of life insurance do I need?

There are several different types of life insurance you can choose in Canada. At its most simple level, you can choose between permanent and term insurance. Many Canadians are best served by term life insurance – a temporary coverage you apply for a set number of years, commonly 10, 20, or 30-year terms. 

Thus, the following reviews are based on the term insurance offerings of the respective companies. Term insurance is a specific kind of straight-forward coverage. It still provides payment to your beneficiary in the unfortunate case of your death, but only if that were to happen within a specified length of time, or ‘term’. While it’s typically purchased in decade-long chunks as mentioned above, you can choose smaller and more customized term lengths as well. If you prefer you can set your coverage to last until you hit specific age milestones like senior-citizen status at 65.

Why should I get life insurance?

As we mentioned in our Honest Guide To Life Insurance  – a better question to ask yourself is do the people in your life need you to have insurance coverage?

Life insurance’s purpose is for clearing out debts (personal or business-related) and supplying an income replacement source to those who rely on you in the unfortunate circumstance that you’re no longer around.

How much life insurance do I need?

How much coverage you need is based on a few factors. You would have to take into account the amount of debt you currently have (including your mortgage), your family’s living expenses (if applicable), your children’s education costs, other future events and opportunities, and then assessing your current assets. 

That’s a lot to keep in mind. If you need a hand determining your insurance needs, our online insurance calculator can help you figure it out in minutes. If you have some more time for reading and research, our page on how much insurance one needs is a great place to spend some time.

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Which insurance company should I choose?

Canadians have unique needs when it comes to life insurance and there is no shortage of insurance companies in Canada Canadian offering distinct products for even those who are difficult to insure due to their state of health, travel history, or extreme hobbies.

We can’t recommend one catch-all insurance company that’s right for everyone looking for the protection and security that term insurance provides. That’s why we researched and wrote the Canadian insurance reviews you’ll see below.

Some people weigh a company’s size, financial strength ratings, and technology offering when choosing an insurance company. To read more about evaluating insurance providers, read our feature on the biggest insurance companies in Canada.

More reviews:

The best life insurance companies in Canada

PolicyAdvisor.com has painstakingly researched the insurance companies that offer the best life coverage in Canada. Years of profiling and analyzing the industry’s top offerings gives us the unique opportunity to review the best insurance companies in Canada and present you with a list of the top insurance offerings and policies available in the category. The following reviews are a must-read for anyone thinking about applying for and purchasing coverage in 2020, though head here you want life insurance quotes right now.

Assumption Life Review

Assumption Whole Life

Best Term Life Insurance for Simplified Issue

AM Best
Financial Strength Rating
A-

PolicyAdvisor.com Rating

Assumption Life, is a leading provider of simplified and flexible term insurance options. The insurance company offers five separate products for customers looking for non-medical life insurance policies – they offer the flexibility to seek higher coverage amounts if applicants choose to explore the medically underwritten options that are also available.

Read our full Assumption Life review.

Pros

  • Multiple term coverage options are available
  • Simplified, non-medical issue options available
  • Quick, easy electronic process
  • Decreasing option available for mortgage coverage
  • Online access to account
  • Ability to exchange shorter term policies (10 years, 15 years, 20 years) into longer term policies (25 year and 30 year coverage options)
  • Options to convert into multiple types of permanent products

Cons

  • Only issues paper policies, no digital option

BMO Insurance Review

BMO Whole Life Insurance

Best Term Life Insurance for Affordability

AM Best
Financial Strength Rating
A

PolicyAdvisor.com Rating

BMO’s option is one of the best insurance companies for individuals, couples, or business owners. It can cover mortgages and other debts, final expenses, and provide for dependants and also be used to protect businesses and their key employees.

Read the full BMO review.

Pros

  • Value for money pricing
  • Multiple term coverage options available
  • Ability to exchange shorter term policies (10 years, 15 years, 20 years) into longer term policies (25 year and 30 year coverage options)
  • Compassionate benefit program allowing advance of term life coverage amount for policy holders needing financial support while dealing with a terminal illness
  • Options to convert into multiple types of permanent products

Cons

  • No online account
  • Only issues paper policies, no digital option
  • Longer-term products (Term 25 and Term 30) are not renewable

Canada Life Review

Canada Life

Best Term Life Insurance for Financial Strength

AM Best
Financial Strength Rating
A+

PolicyAdvisor.com Rating

With $219 billion in assets and a financial strength rating of A+ from A.M. Best, Canada Life is one of the most stable  insurance companies in Canada. The company’s strong capitalization and diverse insurance offerings make it a provider of choice to millions of Canadian life insurance consumers and businesses alike.

The company’s product suite includes a variety of term life policies that are customizable to individuals’ unique needs and financial situation. Canada Life offers term life insurance with several options including level premium convertible term policies, fixed-term non-renewable policies, and optional additional policy riders.

Read the full Canada Life review.

Pros

  • 4 different term lengths available
  • Multiple rider options for single and joint policies
  • Can convert into Canada Life suite of permanent products

Cons

  • Minimum $100,000 coverage required
  • No option to pick your own term
  • Canada Life premiums tend to be more expensive than other options
  • No digital policy or access to online account features

Canada Protection Plan Insurance Review

Canada Protection Plan Whole Life Insurance

Best Term Life Insurance for Non-Medical Offerings

AM Best
Financial Strength Rating
––

PolicyAdvisor.com Rating

Canada Protection Plan is unquestionably the leading insurance provider for non-medical and simplified insurance products in Canada. If you’re having difficulty finding insurance, have been rejected for coverage in the past, or simply want to apply and get approved for insurance quickly, Canada Protection Plan is one of your best options.

Though keep in mind: if you are in good health and don’t mind the few weeks of waiting period which often accompanies medical underwriting, lower priced options are available to you.

Read the full Canada Protection Plan review.

Pros

  • 4 different term lengths available
  • Multiple rider options for single and joint policies
  • Can convert into Canada Life suite of permanent products

Cons

  • Minimum $100,000 coverage required
  • No option to pick your own term
  • Canada Life premiums tend to be more expensive than other options
  • No digital policy or access to online account features

CIBC Insurance Review

CIBC Insurance Term Life Insurance Review

Our Take: Not Recommended For Canadian Life Insurance Buyers

AM Best
Financial Strength Rating
––

PolicyAdvisor.com Rating

CIBC has a simplistic term  insurance offering two standard products for coverage. While its simplicity makes it easy to understand, CIBC’s insurance product suite doesn’t offer as much customization as most bigger insurance companies in Canada, and similar coverage from more established providers is usually less expensive. As well, CIBC Insurance offers limited options for converting the policy once the term has ended. CIBC Insurance’s simplistic approach is better suited to their auto insurance products.

Read the full CIBC review.

Pros

  • Backed by the CIBC brand name, though a very small player in the Canadian  insurance industry
  • CIBC offers pure term (including guaranteed acceptance term) and permanent insurance (until age 100)

Cons

  • Only 2 coverage terms available: 10 and 20 years. If your coverage needs differ from these two terms, you will have better options with other Canadian insurance providers
  • No options for joint/child/family coverage
  • Conversion options are limited to term-100 coverage. No whole life or universal life conversion options
  • Read more in the full review
honest guide life insurance thumbnail

What is life insurance: An honest guide

Desjardins Insurance Review

Desjardins Logo

Best Term Life Insurance for Stability

AM Best
Financial Strength Rating
––

PolicyAdvisor.com Rating

Desjardins is one of Canada’s largest financial institutions and insurance providers and is frequently ranked among the world’s 50 safest banks and financiers.

Desjardins offers a few term  insurance options to cover fixed-term needs such as lifestyle protection, mortgage coverage, or providing for your children’s education. The product offers a number of benefits and features that are expected based on industry standards.

Read the full Desjardins Life Insurance review.

Pros

  • Offers multiple add-on riders and benefits, giving flexibility to augment basic life coverage
  • Robust suite of critical illness, disability insurance, and whole life products; you can obtain comprehensive protection through one provider
  • Ability to convert shorter-term products into longer-term products
  • Online account access
  • Now offers electronic policies as opposed to solely paper-based

Cons

  • Limited term options; there are only 4 predetermined options to choose from
  • Cheaper straight term options are available from the competition

Empire Life Insurance Review

Empire Whole Life

Best Term Life Insurance for Personalization

AM Best
Financial Strength Rating
A

PolicyAdvisor.com Rating

Empire Life offers the Solution series of term life insurance products, which provide insurance coverage for 10, 20, or 30-year terms and a permanent product up to age 100.  The Solution series offers flexible and affordable coverage with renewal up to age 100.

Empire Life also offers annual renewable terms (ART), where your insurance policy renews every year, as opposed to to a multi-year term.

Given a wide choice of products and term options to choose from, Empire Life term life products can be personalized to create a comprehensive coverage to suit individual needs.

Read our full Empire Life review.

Pros

  • Multiple term coverage options available
  • Ability to exchange shorter term policies (Annually renewable and 10 years ) into longer term policies (20-year and 30-year coverage options)
  • Instant approval possible
  • Electronic contract delivery possible
  • Online account access

Cons

  • Preferred rates are only available for $750,000 and above coverage amounts
  • Cheaper straight term life options are available from the competition

Equitable Life Review

Equitable Life of Canada Whole Life

Best Term Life Insurance for Families

AM Best
Financial Strength Rating
––

PolicyAdvisor.com Rating

Equitable Life of Canada is one of the largest mutual insurance companies in Canada. They offers various low-cost  insurance options, both for term and whole life coverage. These options are designed to cover a variety of needs – from basic protection for families’ financial security to business protection for entrepreneurs and those that own their own company.

They also offer both single and multi-life coverage in the same policy, providing family members with coverage within the same contract and savings on policy fees.

Read our full Equitable Life review.

Pros

  • Affordable rate policies, especially for ages 30-55
  • Options to bundle coverage with critical illness and other term life riders
  • Term policies can convert into a robust suite of permanent plans offered by Equitable, regardless of health
  • Preferred clients automatically qualify for EquiLiving critical illness insurance
  • Can create family plan by adding child term rider
  • Online account access available

Cons

  • Only limited terms are available
  • Paper policy only, does not offer an electronic policy

Foresters Insurance Review

Foresters Whole Life Insurance

Best Term Life Insurance for Giving Back

AM Best
Financial Strength Rating
A

PolicyAdvisor.com Rating

Foresters Financial’s Term Life Insurance is a pure term insurance product – as its name suggests. It is renewable and convertible to their permanent insurance products, without having to go through additional medical underwriting. It is also exchangeable for another, longer term insurance policy, if it is offered by Foresters at the time of exchange.

Read our full Foresters review.

Pros

  • Multiple coverage terms available
  • Simplified and quick fulfilment options available
  • Convertible into Foresters’ suite of permanent products, which offer both participating and non-participating options
  • Unique community membership benefits

Cons

  • Term products are priced higher than some comparable industry products
  • No online access to policy details
  • No digital or e-policy upon approval, only paper policy

Humania Insurance Review

Humania Assurance Inc

Best Term Life Insurance for Quick Issue Options

AM Best
Financial Strength Rating
––

PolicyAdvisor.com Rating

Humania offers multiple term insurance products, including both medical and non-medical coverage options.

Humania’s flagship HuGo Life Insurance product aims to accept your application quickly with the least requirements possible. The product is web-based and paper-free.

The majority of policies are insured on the spot (more than 65%) in less than 45 minutes, with many completed in 15 minutes or less. HuGo is available for multiple terms, up to a maximum of 30 years.

Read our full Humania review.

Pros

  • Competitively priced term insurance options
  • Multiple coverage terms available
  • Ability to exchange policy into a longer term for evolving insurance needs
  • Simplified and quick fulfilment options are available
  • Digital or e-policies – one of the few Canadian life insurers that offer a digital policy
  • Non-medical product options available for those with moderate to serious health concerns
  • Automatic approval for critical illness and debt disability coverage for those with standard health

Cons

  • No preferred pricing available for better health clients, although standalone pricing is usually competitive for the HuGo product
  • Conversion option only available up to age 65
  • No online access to policy details

Industrial Alliance Insurance Review

IA Whole Life Insurance

Best Term Life Insurance for Flexibility

AM Best
Financial Strength Rating
A+

PolicyAdvisor.com Rating

Industrial Alliance (iA) offers many customizable options with their term insurance products, with Pick-A-Term being the most unique. It lets applicants design their own coverage term within a range of 10-to 40-year periods based on their specific individual needs and financial circumstances. Pick-A-Term lets applicants sync their insurance coverage with the specific years they may have outstanding debts or to align it with the years of financial support their dependants may need.

Read our full Industrial Alliance review.

Pros

  • High degree of flexibility to design personalised coverage
  • Pick-a-term feature has few industry parallels
  • Both level and decreasing options
  • Ooptional disability rider; when used in conjunction with decreasing coverage option makes for a compelling mortgage protection product
  • Non medical simplified and guaranteed product options available through Access Life
  • Online access to account
  • iA’s underwriting can be more accommodating than other providers
  • Many conversion options: term-to-100, participating, and non-participating whole life are options when your term is expired

Cons

  • No electronic policy – applicants will receive paper policy
  • There may be less expensive alternatives available for straight term coverage

ivari Review

Ivari

Best Term Life Insurance for Layering

AM Best
Financial Strength Rating
A+

PolicyAdvisor.com Rating

ivari is an 80-year old insurance provider with multiple individual coverage products. It was once the Canadian branch of Transamerica Life. Term insurance from ivari is available on its own for temporary protection needs, or it can be layered with different terms or with universal life or critical illness protection to create personalized coverage that spans a longer length of time.

Read our full ivari review.

Pros

  • ivari offers a number of optional riders, including a children’s insurance rider
  • Multiple term options are available
  • 30-year term offers unique flexibilities, upon maturity

Cons

  • Ivari products tend to have higher premiums, compared to other insurers in the market
  • You do not have the flexibility to choose your own term
  • No digital access to policy

Manulife Review

Manulife Whole Life Insurance

Best Term Life Insurance for Digital Innovation

AM Best
Financial Strength Rating
A+

PolicyAdvisor.com Rating

Manulife is the largest insurance company in Canada and one of the largest life insurance providers on the entire planet. However, while size is not always synonymous with quality, Manulife’s dedication to setting the pace for digital innovation in life coverage means their product is also one of the country’s best.

The company is among a very small group of Canadian insurance providers that offer electronic policy delivery. The company’s underwriting process utilizes predictive analytics to approve up to a million dollars in insurance coverage without the need for medical underwriting.

Read our full Manulife review.

Pros

  • One of the few companies in Canada that offers an electronic or digital policy
  • Offers a unique cash advance, if the insured is diagnosed with a terminal illness
  • Shorter-term products (Term 10, Term 20) can be exchanged for longer-term products (Term 20, or Term 65)
  • Optional feature to increase coverage up to the 5th anniversary of the policy, available on certain term life products
  • Term 100 is also available for policyholders between the ages of 60 and 85 years old

Cons

  • Limited term options are available
  • Pricing is more expensive than comparable term life insurance products available in the market
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Life Insurance Needs Calculator

RBC Insurance Review

RBC Insurance

Best Value For Money Term Life Insurance

AM Best
Financial Strength Rating
A

PolicyAdvisor.com Rating

RBC Insurance offers a best-in-class term life insurance with highly affordable premiums. Applicants have the flexibility to choose different term and coverage amounts, allowing them to personalize their coverage to their needs.

Read our full RBC Insurance review.

Pros

  • Affordable term insurance premiums, that rank among the most competitive in the industry
  • Flexibility with a wide range of term lengths and coverage amounts
  • A unique pick-a-term feature which allows applicants to define their length (or years) of coverage
  • Coverage flexibility allows one to structure a ladder strategy (only pay for insurance coverage you truly need and manage down your average premium cost)
  • Riders: Customize the policy with multiple riders, both for yourself and for other family members
  • Term life policy is renewable through lifetime, albeit at higher renewal prices after the initial term
  • Exchangeability benefit on 10 year policy; can be exchanged for a longer-term coverage

Cons

  • Though RBC Insurance is one of the best options for most applicants in Canada, it is available to citizens and permanent residents only. For those in Canada with temporary residency status such as with a student or work permit, these products are not available
  • No digital policy option: you still receive a paper policy
  • Do not currently offer whole life insurance products. Thus RBC policies are currently only convertible into RBC Insurance’s universal life and term-to-100 products

SSQ Insurance Review

SSQ Whole Life Insurance

Best Term Life Insurance For Combo Coverage

AM Best
Financial Strength Rating
A-

PolicyAdvisor.com Rating

SSQ’s flagship Term Plus product is a multi-purpose product that offers life coverage in addition to unique built-in features and customisable options that can comprehensively protect you against life’s biggest risks.  The Term Plus product can be combined with optional disability and critical illness coverages, allowing for a robust combo product solution.

Read our full SSQ review.

Pros

  • A built-in Extreme Disability Benefit is unique in the industry
  • Options to add critical illness and monthly disability indemnity make for a comprehensive financial protection solution
  • Several optional riders including accidental death and dismemberment and children’s term coverage
  • Preferred rates available starting at $250,000
  • Online account access

Cons

  • Paper policy only, no digital policy
  • Longer turnaround times for policy approval

Sun Life Financial Insurance Review

Sun Life Whole Life Insurance

Best Term Life Insurance For In-Person Purchase

AM Best
Financial Strength Rating
A+

PolicyAdvisor.com Rating

Sun Life’s flagship products (SunTerm and SunSpectrum) are sold primarily offline, through in-person meetings with their vast network of financial advisors and distributors. Sun Life Term policies offer standard features and optional benefits that are generally comparable with the market. However, the pricing of their premiums may not be easy on your wallet. If you are looking for traditional term insurance with an in-person purchase process, you should consider Sun Life.

Read our full Sun Life review. 

Pros

  • Optional benefits: Customize the policy with multiple riders, both for yourself and for other family members
  • Convertibility up to age 75, most competing products convert up to age 70 or 71
  • Can optionally convert into a robust set of whole life and universal life Sun Life products
  • Medical and non-medical options available

Cons

  • Limited term options are available (only 4)
  • You cannot choose your own coverage term as some other companies offer
  • Pricing is significantly higher than comparable term life insurance products
  • No digital policy delivered; only paper policies
  • Application has to be signed with pen and paper
  • Stricter underwriting process for prior health conditions

TD Insurance Review

TD Insurance Term Life Insurance Review

No Recommendation

AM Best
Financial Strength Rating
––

PolicyAdvisor.com Rating

Though TD Insurance offers a few options for term life coverage, there are no differentiating factors strong enough to recommend TD Insurance policies over their many Canadian competitors. TD Insurance premiums are typically more expensive compared to similar quotes from other insurers. TD Insurance term policies also offer limited features to personalize or augment the coverage.

Read our full TD Insurance review. 

Pros

  • TD Insurance offers pure term (including no medical term) and permanent life insurance (until age 100)
  • Offers coverage up to $10 million, in line with coverage offered by other large insurers
  • Possibility of getting coverage up to $500,000 instantly approved, albeit at higher prices compared to competitors in the industry
  • Strong, recognizable brand name, albeit a smaller player in the life insurance industry

Cons

  • Limited choice of term life coverage options. You can only choose between Term 10 and Term 20 life insurance products. If your need is longer/different than these terms, then you may have to choose between these two coverages and renew your coverage after your initial term. Not an efficient strategy as renewal prices are significantly more expensive
  • Max age is 80 years old, which is less than the 85 years or lifetime coverage offered by most life insurance providers
  • TD Insurance is not rated/accredited by major financial rating and customer service evaluators like AM Best or BBB
  • Many more in the full review

Wawanesa Insurance Review

Wawanesa Insurance: Life Insurance Review

Best Term Life Insurance For Price

AM Best
Financial Strength Rating
A

PolicyAdvisor.com Rating

Wawanesa is a Canadian insurance provider with products across the individual, home, farm and commercial business sectors. They offer term insurance products with terms ranging from 10 to 30 years and include a special term-to-age-80 option. One can potentially layer term plans if they opt for a base plan and add up to four term-riders of various initial term lengths within a single policy.

Read our full Wawanesa Insurance review. 

Pros

  • Multiple term life options are available
  • Premiums are frequently amongst the most affordable available in the industry
  • Ability to create layered or ‘laddered’ structures, given the availability of multiple coverage options
  • Most products are lifelong renewable, albeit at higher prices
  • The company does not charge any policy or rider fees, which helps keep the premiums very affordable
  • Ability to get coverage without medicals for up to $500,000, if you are below the age of 45

Cons

  • No option for digital or electronic policy
  • Underwriting process can take relatively longer than other companies
  • Policies can only be converted into participating permanent products
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The information above is a brief representative summary for indicative purposes only. It does not include all terms, conditions, limitations, exclusions, termination and other provisions of the policies described, some of which may be material to the policy selection. Please refer to the actual policy documents for complete details. In case of any discrepancy, the language in the actual policy documents will prevail. A.M. Best financial strength ratings displayed above are not a warranty of a company’s financial strength and ability to meet its obligations to policyholders.

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