Best Critical Illness Insurance in Canada in 2021 - PolicyAdvisor
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Best critical illness insurance companies in Canada

SUMMARY

We researched the best critical illness insurance in Canada so you don’t have to. Learn what critical illness insurance is, which companies offer basic and enhanced coverage, and why one should choose one company’s coverage over another.

By Carly Griffin
Insurance Advisor, LLQP
16 min read
IN THIS ARTICLE

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

Head straight to the reviews.

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What is critical illness insurance?

Critical illness insurance is a living benefit insurance policy that pays out a tax-free lump sum if you develop a specified illness, health event, or undergo treatment while under its coverage.

Like life insurance, critical illness insurance is also available in term or permanent options. Term critical illness insurance covers you for a fixed period or “term” and permanent critical illness insurance covers you until death (though you can pay the premiums for the policy upfront, typically over a duration of 10 or 20 years).

The lump-sum payout is also called a living benefit because it does not depend on whether you have recovered or not. Instead, it is paid out while you are living, once it is established you have contracted a specified illness or gone through certain health incidents (e.g, a heart-attack, etc).

Depending on the condition and the insurance provider, you may have to survive for a certain amount of time (known as the survival period) before you are eligible for the payout.

Why should I get critical illness insurance?

Simply put, you get critical illness insurance to give yourself or your loved ones a financial cushion should you contract a serious illness or undergo a serious medical incident. Whereas products like life insurance provide long-term financial support for your loved ones should you pass away; critical illness insurance is intended for you or your family to be able to use while you are still alive and hopefully recovering.  

Now more than ever, critical illnesses are common in Canada. There are over 200,000 cancer diagnoses a year and 50,000 strokes. While survival rates for critical illnesses like these (or others like heart attacks) are increasing, the recovery from them can still be daunting and require massive changes in your lifestyle and day-to-day needs. Financial constraints sometimes force people to return to work sooner and can contribute to the recurrence of the illness.

Canadians are protecting themselves with critical illness insurance to plan for these scenarios, where they may need to take time off to recover, and can use the financial resources to pay for treatment or medical equipment and home-outfitting required in such circumstances.

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How does critical illness insurance work?

Critical illness insurance pays out a lump-sum benefit after the diagnosis of one of the conditions covered by the plan, following a survival period of typically 30 days. 

Different plans and options offer varying amounts and types of coverage, be that monetary ($10,000 to $3 million), the conditions covered (from 1 to 25+), the survival period (0, 30, 60, or 90 days), or the term (a 10-year term to coverage that lasts your lifetime).

Lastly, some illnesses – while still serious – are not considered critical illnesses but might still be eligible for a partial payment of up to 30%. With some – but not all – policies you can make multiple partial claims with varying effects on your eligibility for a full payment further down the road if you do end up contracting a serious illness or ailment.

Read more about Critical Illness Insurance:

What are the best critical illness insurance companies in Canada?

PolicyAdvisor.com has painstakingly researched the insurance companies that offer the best critical illness insurance in Canada. Years of profiling and analyzing the industry’s top offerings gives us the unique opportunity to review the country’s best critical illness insurance companies and present you with a list of the top insurance offerings available in the category. The following reviews are a must-read for anyone thinking about purchasing critical illness insurance in 2021.

The 14 best critical illness insurance companies in 2021 are:

Critical Protection

AM BEST RATING

A-

POLICYADVISOR RATING

Best Non-Medical Critical Illness Insurance

Assumption Life Critical Illness Insurance Review

While the maximum amount of coverage (aka sum insured) offered is lower than its rivals, Assumption Life’s Critical Protection product also offers a simplified non-medical option that cuts down on waiting times and gets you covered faster, in addition to their enhanced products. Assumption Life also has a fully underwritten product, but their simplified issue critical illness insurance is one of the few such critical illness plans available in the industry.

Read our full Assumption Life review.

Pros

  • Simplified issue option
  • No medical option
  • Quick, easy electronic process – instant approval possible
  • Online access
  • Shorter-term coverage options available
  • Limited pay and return of premium options available

Cons

  • Limited number of covered conditions (16 conditions) and coverage amounts (max of $100,000)
  • No partial payment for non-life threatening illnesses
  • No children’s coverage
  • No whole life coverage

Living Benefit

AM BEST RATING

A

POLICYADVISOR RATING

Most Comprehensive Critical Illness Insurance for Price

BMO Critical Illness Insurance Review

As one of Canada’s largest financial institutions, BMO can take advantage of its heft and economies of scale to offer clients comprehensive, customizable critical illness coverage at the best prices through its Living Benefit suite of products.

Read the full BMO review.

Pros

  • Comprehensive: 25 critical illnesses covered
  • High coverage amounts available
  • Multiple terms available, including whole life cover
  • Limited pay and Return of premium options available

Cons

  • No online access
  • No children’s coverage available
  • No second event coverage

LifeAdvance

AM BEST RATING

A+

POLICYADVISOR RATING

The Rolls Royce of Critical Illness Coverage

Canada Life Critical Illness Insurance Review

If you are sparing no expense, Canada Life’s plans offer something for everyone. Most coverage terms, riders, child policies, and all the other bells and whistles of a critical illness insurance policy can be had through Canada Life’s LifeAdvance – at a price, of course. It’s the Uber Black of the category.

Read the full Canada Life review.

Pros

  • Large coverage amounts and multiple terms including whole life options
  • Comprehensive: 26 covered conditions
  • Generous partial benefit payouts
  • Limited pay and return of premium options available
  • Child critical illness coverage available
  • Second event coverage available

Cons

  • No online access
  • Loss of independent existence is a separate rider with additional cost
  • Return of premium riders are expensive
  • Survival period on most conditions

Health Priorities

AM BEST RATING

N/A

POLICYADVISOR RATING

Best For Extensive Coverage

Desjardins Critical Illness Insurance Review

Desjardins’ Health Priorities product offers prospective clients a lot of choice in coverage and term. It covers more illnesses for partial payment than most other companies in Canada. However, partial payments count as an advance against your overall payout.

Read our full Desjardins review.

Pros

  • The highest number of conditions covered (26 full payout illnesses)
  • Generous partial benefit payouts (most number of covered partial conditions)
  • Multiple coverage amounts and multiple terms possible
  • No survival period on most conditions (except cardiovascular)
  • Permanent coverage and limited pay options available
  • Children’s coverage available

Cons

  • No online access
  • Partial payment is an advance and reduces overall coverage
  • No second event coverage: Policy terminates after first claim payout

CI Protect

AM BEST RATING

A

POLICYADVISOR RATING

Best Critical Illness for Couples

Empire Life Critical Illness Insurance Review

With a well-rounded mix of terms and features included in their critical illness insurance plans, Empire Life provides a great, comprehensive product. They also offer what is called a multi-life policy. Couples can apply together for critical illness insurance and get a discount.

Read our full Empire Life review.

Pros

  • High coverage amounts available
  • Comprehensive: 25 conditions covered
  • Multi-life coverage available
  • Online access
  • Generous partial benefit payouts

Cons

  • No limited pay options
  • No Return of premium on death (ROPD)
  • No coverage for children

Equiliving

AM BEST RATING

N/A

POLICYADVISOR RATING

Best Critical Illness For Families

Equitable Life Critical Illness Insurance Review

Equitable Life of Canada offers multiple term lengths for parents looking to match their coverage to how long they’ll have dependents in their care. Couple that with their options for children’s critical illness coverage and you have a great fit for Canadians looking to get coverage for themselves and their families.

Read our full Equitable Life review.

Pros

  • Comprehensive (25 full payout illnesses)
  • Multiple terms available including Term to 100
  • Generous partial benefit payouts
  • Return of premium options
  • Children’s critical illness coverage

Cons

  • No limited pay options
  • No second event coverage

Live Well Plus

AM BEST RATING

A

POLICY ADVISOR RATING

Best For Built-In Features

Foresters’ Critical Illness Insurance Review

Foresters has refreshed their critical illness insurance offering and made a strong move up the charts. They now offer both basic (Live Well) and enhanced (Live Well Plus) critical illness insurance which covers 4 and 25 illnesses respectively. They include return-of-premium on death as standard; however, the time for return-of-premium on cancellation is very long (starts at Year 20). They also have a unique Term 80 option.

Read our full Foresters review.

Pros

  • Partial payment for 8 conditions (15% up to $50,000)
  • Access to Foresters’ community benefits
  • Return of premium options available
  • Unique Term-to-80 option available
  • Child Cover available (with 5 additional conditions)

Cons

  • Partial payout reduces final coverage
  • No limited pay options available
  • No permanent coverage

Term Critical Illness

AM BEST RATING

POLICY ADVISOR RATING

Best Critical Illness Insurance for Children

Humania Critical Illness Insurance Review

If you’re looking for a policy that offers the most comprehensive coverage that also includes children, Humania is the company to beat. Humania’s Children360 critical illness covers 37 conditions, including several that are specific to children. Humania also offers a compassionate allowance for grieving parents if that unfortunate situation does occur.

Read our full Humania review.

Pros

  • Comprehensive conditions covered (25 full payout illnesses)
  • Multiple coverage terms available
  • Child product (Children360) with 37 covered conditions
  • Parental compassionate allowance
  • Return of premium options

Cons

  • Limited partial payment benefit (only 3 covered conditions)

Transition

AM BEST RATING

A+

POLICY ADVISOR RATING

Best Critical Illness Insurance for Flexibility

iA Critical Illness Insurance Review

Industrial Alliance’s Transition plan is a great all-around critical illness insurance policy with one key differentiating factor: flexibility. With so many add-on and rider options that match or beat other company’s offerings, Canadians can tailor-fit a critical illness policy suited to their exact needs. Policyholders also have a “reducing” option which gradually decreases the overall amount of the benefit payment over its early years until it reaches 50% of the original benefit amount. Industrial Alliance is a perfect fit for those looking to use critical illness insurance to cover mortgage payments.

Read our full Industrial Alliance review.

Pros

  • Comprehensive conditions covered (25 full payout illnesses)
  • Multiple terms available
  • Lifetime coverage and limited-pay options available
  • Children’s coverage available
  • Guaranteed insurability rider (increase coverage when needed)
  • Decreasing option for mortgage coverage
  • Generous partial benefit payouts
  • Instant approval possible
  • Online access
  • Multiple lives under one coverage

Cons

  • No second event coverage
  • No long term care conversion option

Critical Illness

AM BEST RATING

A+

POLICY ADVISOR RATING

Best Critical Illness Insurance for Bundling

ivari Critical Illness Insurance Review

If you’re the type to keep all your services with one company, ivari’s critical illness insurance is for you. You can add $2 million in critical illness coverage as a rider to an existing life insurance plan and save up to 15% on your premiums. Brand loyalty pays off with ivari insurance!

Read our full ivari review.

Pros

  • Discounts for bundling services
  • Comprehensive conditions covered (25 full payout illnesses)
  • Children’s coverage available

Cons

  • No limited pay options
  • No second option
  • No permanent coverage

LifeCheque

AM BEST RATING

A+

POLICY ADVISOR RATING

Best Critical Illness Insurance Combo Product

Manulife Critical Illness Insurance Review

The Big Mac, Coke, and fries of critical illness insurance – Manulife’s LifeCheque is the combo to beat. With a good mix of coverage and term lengths backed by one of the most trusted names in insurance, no wonder Manulife is synonymous with financial protection.

Read our full Manulife review.

Pros

  • Large coverage amounts available (up to $2 million)
  • Multiple coverage terms available (including permanent coverage)
  • Comprehensive coverage (25 full payout illnesses)
  • Generous partial benefit payouts
  • Return of premium and limited pay options available
  • Payment for temporary loss of independent existence
  • Children’s LifeCheque rider available
  • Online access

Cons

  • Return of premium options are expensive
  • Only offer monthly payments for loss of independent existence
  • No second event coverage available

Critical Illness Recovery Plan

AM BEST RATING

A

POLICY ADVISOR RATING

Best Critical Illness Insurance/Long-Term Care Combo Product

RBC Critical Illness Insurance Review

With Canadians living longer than ever, those shopping for critical illness insurance may also have long-term care on their minds. Fortunately, RBC Insurance has the market cornered on those keeping their eye on Father Time. Policyholders can convert their coverage into payments for long-term care when they are older without additional proof of insurability.

Read our full RBC review.

Pros

  • Large coverage amounts – up to $2 million
  • Comprehensive covered conditions: 25
  • Long-term care conversion without proof of insurability
  • Generous partial benefit payouts

Cons

  • Limited-term options
  • No Return of Premium on expiry or cancellation
  • No coverage for children
  • No lifetime coverage or limited pay options

Critical Illness

AM BEST RATING

A-

POLICY ADVISOR RATING

Best Critical Illness Insurance For Those Seeking A Mutual

SSQ Critical Illness Insurance Review

SSQ offers critical illness insurance with features that compete well with the best plans in Canada. Their youth shows in their easier-to-understand digital materials and website. If community involvement and corporate responsibility are important to you, SSQ might be your first choice. The company is run as a mutualist democracy, which you enter into once you purchase the policy, and thus have a small say in how they are run.

Read our full SSQ review.

Pros

  • Variety of terms available
  • Large coverage amounts and conditions covered (25 conditions)
  • Lifetime coverage and limited pay options available
  • Return of premium options are available
  • Children’s coverage availabl

Cons

  • Only 4 partial conditions covered, payable once
  • No long term care conversion option
  • Return of premium riders are expensive

Sun Critical Illness Insurance

AM BEST RATING

A+

POLICY ADVISOR RATING

Best Critical Illness Insurance For Brand Recognition

Sun Life Critical Illness Insurance Review

Sun Life is another well-established name in critical illness insurance. Their size and history mean they offer some of the best, most comprehensive coverage for critical illness except for one key factor: you must submit your application by paper and fully hand-written. For that reason alone, we can’t award Sun Life full marks.

Read our full Sun Life review. 

Pros

  • The highest number of conditions covered (26 full-payout illnesses)
  • Generous partial benefit payouts
  • No survival period on most conditions
  • Long term care conversion option
  • Permanent coverage and limited pay options available
  • Children’s coverage available

Cons

  • Paper form – no electronic app
  • Limited options for shorter-term coverage
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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By Carly Griffin
Insurance Advisor, LLQP
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