10 Best Life Insurance Companies in Canada for 2023
While the numbers vary depending on what you read, studies suggest that as many as 90% of Canadians are underinsured. It’s a scary thought. After all, having adequate insurance coverage, especially life insurance, is one of the pillars of sound financial planning. Regardless of your age, you need to ensure your family is protected should you pass away.
So why are we not purchasing enough insurance? Some people aren’t sure how much life insurance they need or how much life insurance costs, or they just don’t know how to buy it. Many people don’t realize that they are underinsured.
But buying life insurance doesn’t have to be difficult, and depending on the type of insurance you get, it’s quite affordable.
Best Life Insurance Companies in Canada
To help you in your search for the right life insurance policy, I’ve compiled a list of Canada’s best life insurance companies, listed in no particular order. While you can’t go wrong with any of these providers, each one stands out (in a good way) for one or more reasons.
PolicyMe – Best for Couples with Children
About PolicyMe: PolicyMe is an online-only life insurance company founded in Toronto in 2018. They started out as an insurance broker, offering policies from several Canadian insurance companies. However, in 2021, PolicyMe launched its own life insurance products for Canadians in five provinces. Their policies are issued by Canadian Premier Life Insurance Company.
Available Life Insurance Products: Term life only (no permanent life insurance)
- Term life policies from $100,000 to $5 million
- Rates are locked in for the full term
- Terms ranging from 10 to 30 years
- 10% couple’s discount for the first year
- No-charge $10,000 coverage for children
- Automatic annual renewals
Why Choose PolicyMe?
PolicyMe offers Term life insurance and Critical Illness insurance – they do not offer permanent life insurance at this time. The primary advantage of using an online company like PolicyMe is that they can pass along the savings of being a digital-only platform to policyholders in the form of lower premiums.
The other advantage is the speed and ease of use that comes with an online application. You can get an instant online quote and apply within minutes (couples who apply together receive a 10% premium discount in the first year). Children are covered for $10,000 of coverage at no extra cost.
Manulife – Best for Permanent Life Insurance Options
About Manulife: Headquartered in Toronto, Manulife is Canada’s largest life insurance company, with over 38,000 employees and over 20 million customers worldwide. Manulife’s products and services extend beyond insurance to personal and commercial banking, wealth management, and more.
Available Life Insurance Products: Term life insurance, Permanent life insurance, CoverMe life insurance, Manulife Synergy Combination insurance
- Access to certain Manulife Vitality benefits which reward you for healthy living
- Coverage between $100,000 and $20 million
- Terms of 10 or 20 years, to age 65, or for life
- Bereavement counseling costs are covered up to $1,000
- Terminally-ill policyholders are eligible to receive a cash advance
- Guaranteed Issue insurance for Canadian residents between 40 and 75
Why Choose Manulife?
Manulife positions its Family Term Life insurance as both affordable and flexible. You can purchase policies anywhere from $100,000 to $20 million, and terms of 10 or 20 years are the most common. The following policy add-ons are available: skip premium payments if you become disabled, additional injury and accidental death protection, guaranteed future eligibility (rider), and guaranteed future coverage for children, regardless of their health.
Canada Life – Best for Flexible Terms
About Canada Life: Canada Life is a subsidiary of its parent company, Great-West Lifeco, the result of the 2020 merger of the Great-West Life Assurance Company, London Life Insurance Company, and the Canada Life Assurance Company. They are headquartered in Winnipeg, Manitoba, and have over 10,000 employees.
In addition to insurance, Canada Life offers banking, investment and savings, mortgage, and retirement accounts. They also offer insurance for businesses.
Available Life Insurance Products: Term and two types of permanent life insurance, participating and universal life.
Key Features of Canada Life:
- Flexible term options between 5 and 50 years
- Pay monthly or annual premiums
- Option to renew to a longer term when your term ends
- Option to convert to a permanent life insurance policy when the term ends
- Two types of permanent life insurance are available: Universal and Participating life
Why Choose Canada Life?
Canada Life offers more flexibility when it comes to term life insurance than other insurance companies. For starters, you can select terms between 5 and 50 years in length. In addition, when your term policy comes to an end, you can choose to cancel it, renew it automatically, or convert it to a permanent life insurance policy, if you desire.
If you decide to renew, you may be able to choose a longer term than you previously had. Minimum coverage is $100,000, so it’s not ideal if you’re looking for a small policy.
Sun Life – Best for Participating Life Insurance
About Sun Life: Sun Life is a longstanding Canadian life insurance company headquartered in Montreal. In addition to life insurance, Sun Life provides other types of coverage, including health, dental, travel, critical illness, and disability insurance. They also sell group benefits coverage. You can also purchase various financial services products through Sun Life, such as RRSPs, TFSAs, RESPs, and RRIFs. The company has over 50,000 employees.
Available Life Insurance Products: Term life insurance and three types of permanent life insurance: whole life, participating life, and universal life.
Key Features of Sun Life:
- Term policies of 10, 15, 20, 0r 30 years
- Coverage amounts range between $50,000 and $25 million, depending on the type of coverage
- Instant 90-day temporary coverage when you apply (until you get approved or denied)
- No medical life insurance option is available
- Option to convert to permanent life policy at any time (SunSpectrum & SunTerm)
Why Choose Sun Life?
Sun Life offers plenty of flexibility with its life insurance options. They have four types of term life coverage, Simplified, regular Term, SunSpectrum Term, and SunTerm Life. The features of each plan vary slightly. For example, Simplified Term Life is a 10-year term policy with no medical exam requirement.
The SunSpectrum and SunTerm policies give you the ability to convert to a permanent life policy at any time. You can also customize both policies with additional benefits. Sunlife also offers three types of permanent life insurance, whereas some other insurers only offer one or two types.
Desjardins Insurance – Best for Desjardins Customers
About Desjardins: Desjardins Insurance is a subsidiary of Desjardins Group, which is the largest collection of credit unions in Canada. They are headquartered in Lévis, Quebec, and have been around since 1944. In 2015, Desjardins Insurance purchased the Canadian business of State Farm Insurance, a large U.S. insurer. Desjardins offers many different types of insurance, including term and permanent life insurance policies.
Available Life Insurance Products: Term life insurance, permanent life insurance, participating life insurance, and universal life insurance.
- Terms of 10, 20, 30 years, and to age 65
- Option to convert term to permanent life coverage without evidence of good health
- Option to convert to a longer-term
- Coverage available for children
- Get a break from premiums if you are disabled
- Basic permanent life coverage is available without a medical exam
Why Choose Desjardins Insurance?
If you’re an existing Desjardins customer, you can purchase life insurance while staying with the same company that handles your banking and other financial needs. They offer term and permanent life policies, with two types of coverage for the latter. Unfortunately, you can’t obtain an online quote with Desjardins; the only option is to speak to an advisor over the telephone or in person.
RBC Insurance – Best for Permanent Life Options
About RBC: RBC Insurance is a division of the Royal Bank of Canada, Canada’s largest bank. They offer two types of term life insurance and four types of permanent life insurance policies.
Available Life Insurance Products: RBC Simplified Term Life Insurance, RBC YourTerm Life Insurance, RBC Growth Insurance (Participating Whole Life Insurance), RBC Guaranteed Acceptance Life Insurance, Term 100 Life Insurance, and RBC Universal Life Insurance.
- Potential for no medical exam (RBC Simplified term life insurance)
- Term coverage from $50,000 up to $25 million
- Terms of 10 to 40 years
- Option to convert term to permanent life with no medical, up to age 71
- Guaranteed Acceptance coverage available between ages 40 and 75 (permanent life)
- Term 100 life insurance is available up to age 85
Why Choose RBC Insurance?
When you purchase insurance through RBC, you have the comfort of knowing that you’re dealing with Canada’s largest financial institution. And while their term life insurance policies don’t have as many features as some other insurance companies on our list, they do have several options when it comes to permanent life insurance.
Are you between ages 40 and 75 and wish to provide some extra cash to loved ones? You can apply online for Guaranteed Acceptance Life Coverage (up to $40,000) with no medical exam or health questions required. It includes an accidental death benefit. Are you an older Canadian looking to protect your estate? Term 100 Life Insurance is a permanent life policy that you can apply for up to age 85.
BMO Insurance: Best for Straightforward Coverage
About BMO: Founded in 1817 as Montreal Bank, the Bank of Montreal (BMO) is Canada’s oldest bank and fourth largest by asset size. BMO Insurance is a division of the Bank of Montreal, offering several types of insurance, including Life, Critical Illness, and Travel insurance.
Available Life Insurance Products: Term life insurance, three types of permanent life insurance (Universal life, BMO Insurance Whole Life, and Term 100).
- Term coverage between $100,000 and $5 million
- Term coverage available up to age 75
- A medical exam is required
- Terms range from 10 to 30 years
- Permanent life policies between $50,000 and $20 million
- Permanent life available between ages 0 and 80
- Online quotes available
Why Choose BMO Insurance?
BMO Insurance products lack some of the bells and whistles offered by the competition. They only offer one term life policy, and it requires a medical exam. But sometimes, simple and straightforward is a good thing, and their products are easy to understand. They do have three types of permanent life insurance coverage, which can be purchased up to age 80. And unlike some of the insurers on our list, online quotes are available.
Empire Life – Best for Small Business Owners
About Empire Life: Empire Life is a top 10 Canadian life insurance company headquartered in Kingston, Ontario. The company is a subsidiary of Toronto-based E-L Financial Corporation. In addition to critical illness and disability insurance, Empire Life offers term and permanent life policies.
Available Life Insurance Products: Term life insurance plans (Solution 10, Solution 15, Solution 20, Solution 25, Solution 30, and Solution ART), permanent life insurance, permanent participating life insurance, and no medical life.
- Terms ranging from 10 to 30 years
- Package policies together to save on fees
- Option to convert to a permanent life policy
- Solution ART offers flexible coverage for current smokers, small business owner
Why Choose Empire Life?
Empire Life offers straightforward term life insurance coverage. One of their plans, Solution ART, lets you keep the same premiums for three years before increasing yearly. According to Empire Life, this coverage is ideal for smokers who intend to quit because they will be able to convert it to a cheaper, non-smokers policy down the road. The policy may also be of interest to small business owners who want coverage to protect a short-term business loan.
Wawanesa Life: Best for Range of Term Lengths
About Wawanesa Life: Wawanesa Life is a subsidiary of The Wawanesa Mutual Assurance Company, which has its head office in Winnipeg, Manitoba. The company has over $11 billion in assets and over 2 million insurance policies in force. Wawanesa Life offers many different insurance products, including term and permanent life insurance policies.
Available Life Insurance Products: Term life insurance and three types of permanent life insurance (Whole Life, Pay to Age 100, or 20 Pay Whole Life.)
- Term policies range from 10 to 30 years, Term to Age 80, and Term to Age 100
- Premiums on whole-life policies are guaranteed never to go up
- You cannot get an online quote
Why Choose Wawanesa Life?
Wawanesa Life offers a wide range of term life insurance plans. Their Lifetime Term to Age 80 and Lifetime Term to Age 100 are unique among term policies. With Term to Age 80, premiums remain level until age 80, but they can then be renewed until age 100. After 100, the insurance coverage continues for life with no additional premiums. Unfortunately, you cannot get an online quote, and not all insurance brokers will deal with Wawanesa, so it may be best to deal with them directly.
About PolicyAdvisor: PolicyAdvisor is different than the other companies on this list because they don’t have their own insurance products. Instead, they are an online life insurance aggregator, a digital platform that helps Canadians find the best life insurance policies from a number of different providers. Having all of the insurance companies in one place makes it much easier to find the best deal and get quick approval.
Available Life Insurance Products: PolicyAdvisor doesn’t have its own products but connects Canadians to more than 30 life insurance providers using their online tools.
- No fees
- Compare rates from up to 30 insurance providers
- 20,000 policy options available
- Live support
- Commission-free advisors
- Search for the term and whole life insurance
- The life insurance calculator helps you determine your insurance needs
Why Choose PolicyAdvisor?
PolicyAdvisor is a great place to go to begin your search for life insurance. Within minutes, you can complete a quote and get rates from multiple life insurance companies. It’s the easiest way to know that you’re getting the right product at the best price.
Final Thoughts on the Best Life Insurance Companies
That concludes our list of the best places to purchase life insurance in Canada. If you aren’t currently insured, or you’re unsure whether you have enough coverage, don’t wait; get an online quote.
PolicyAdvisor may be the easiest way to do that as it only takes a few minutes, and their online tools are easy to use. The most important thing is not what company you deal with but that you have enough insurance coverage in place to protect your loved ones.
Why buy life insurance at all? Most people have life insurance from their employer. That often covers enough that the family can make a go of it if the bread winner passes. Later in life when the mortgage is paid and the kids are grown, your just feeding the insurance company funds you could put to better use. We have never had any additional insurance and now in retirement have none. Insurance is probably good for people that are not good with their money, but it isn’t required for everyone. Conventional wisdom says we should, but should decide ourselves what is best.