Reviews: The best life insurance companies in Canada 2021

by Mark Cluett
28 min read

The top best life insurance companies in Canada are Manulife, Sun Life, Canada Life, Desjardins, and iA (Industrial Alliance) based on size.

But size is just one factor. When Canadians search for the best term life insurance they need an informed checklist of what to look for when choosing the right policy and coverage for their needs.

Our life insurance reviews let you stringently compare and shop for the best insurance quotes available in Canada. Read further to find out:

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Reviews of Canadian Life Insurance Companies

PolicyAdvisor.com has painstakingly researched the best life insurance companies 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 providers to compare life insurance offerings and policies available in the category.

The following reviews are a must-read for anyone compare this type of life insurance in Canada, though head here if you want to compare quotes right now.

The best life insurance in Canada in 2021

Assumption Life Insurance Review

Assumption Whole Life

Best Life Insurance for Simplified Issue

AM Best
Financial Strength Rating
A-

PolicyAdvisor.com Rating

Assumption Life offers five separate products for customers looking for non-medical life insurance policies.

The life insurance policies offered by Assumption Life also offer flexibility to seek coverage for higher amounts after medical and financial underwriting.

Read our full Assumption Life review.

Pros

  • Multiple term coverage options
  • Simplified, non-medical issue options
  • Quick, easy electronic process
  • Decreasing option available for mortgage coverage
  • Online access to account
  • Exchange and conversion options let policyholders convert to longer term or permanent coverage

Cons

  • Only issues paper policies, no digital option
  • Breadth of options can be confusing
  • High policy fees and rider fees on non-medical policies

BMO Life Insurance Review

BMO Whole Life Insurance

Best Life Insurance for Affordability

AM Best
Financial Strength Rating
A

PolicyAdvisor.com Rating

BMO Insurance’s term life insurance is a great option for individuals, couples, or business owners. It can cover mortgages and other debts, final expenses, and provide for dependents and also be used to protect businesses and their key employees.

Read the full BMO review.

Pros

  • Value for money pricing
  • Multiple term life insurance coverage options available
  • Ability to exchange 10-year policy into longer term (15, 20, 25, and 30 year coverage options)
  • Compassionate benefit program allowing advance of term life insurance coverage amount for policy holders needing financial support while dealing with a terminal illness
  • Options to convert into multiple types of permanent life insurance products
  • Electronic contract delivery
  • Multi-policy discount available
  • Top 10 largest insurance company based on annual premium

Cons

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

Canada Life Insurance Review

Canada Life

Best Term Life Insurance for Financial Strength

AM Best
Financial Strength Rating
A+

PolicyAdvisor.com Rating

Canada Life, one of the country’s largest life insurers, is a subsidiary of Great-West Lifeco Inc. and a member of the Power Financial Corporation group of companies. With $396 billion in assets and a financial strength rating of A+ from A.M. Best, Canada Life is one of the most stable life insurers in the country.

Founded in 1847, Canada Life was the first domestic life insurance company 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 insurance products includes a variety of term life insurance 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 to add a different type of life insurance if required.

Read the full Canada Life review.

Pros

  • Choose a customer term length from 5 to 50 years
  • Multiple rider options for single and joint policies
  • Can convert into Canada Life suite of permanent products

Cons

  • Minimum $100,000 coverage or $500 annual premium required
  • Limited digital policy or access to online account features

Canada Protection Plan Life Insurance Review

canada protection plan

Best Life Insurance for Non-Medical Policies

AM Best
Financial Strength Rating
––

PolicyAdvisor.com Rating

Canada Protection Plan is unquestionably the leading provider of non-medical life insurance and simplified issue life insurance products in Canada.

If you’re having difficulty finding insurance, have been rejected for life insurance in the past, or simply want to apply and get approved for life insurance quickly, Canada Protection Plan is one of your best options for a simplified issue life insurance policy.

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, a lower-priced life insurance policy may be available to you.

Read the full Canada Protection Plan review.

Pros

  • Multiple products offering simplified, no-medical coverage for applicants across all health categories
  • Most products are available through a quick, simple, online application without any medical tests
  • Several terms are available including 10, 20, 25, and 30-year coverage
  • Affordable coverage pricing, especially when compared to pricing multipliers (aka ratings) imposed by traditional insurance companies on applicants with prior health issues
  • Available to temporary residents such as those on a student or work visa– you don’t have to be a Canadian citizen or work permit holder
  • Most plans offer life protection from the time the policy is put in place
  • Customers can pay annual premiums by credit card
  • All plans convertible to permanent coverage until age 70
  • Decreasing term option available (ideal for covering mortgage debt)

Cons

  • Can be more expensive than plans from other insurers for those in good health. You pay a higher premium in exchange for the convenience of coverage with no-medical underwriting
  • Coverage amounts are limited to a maximum of $1-million. If you require higher coverage, you will need to look for another insurance provider
  • Coverage ends at age 80 versus age 85 for most other Canadian providers

CIBC Life 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 life 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 Canadian insurance companies, 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.

Read the full CIBC review.

Pros

  • CIBC Life Insurance is backed by the CIBC brand name, albeit a very small player in the Canadian life insurance industry
  • CIBC offers pure term (including guaranteed acceptance term) and permanent life insurance (Term-to-100) through a conversion option

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
  • There are limited riders or optional add-ons to augment coverage such as child term riders, guaranteed insurability, critical illness riders, and exchangeability
  • CIBC Insurance premiums are typically more expensive than larger Canadian insurance companies
  • Maximum age to obtain coverage is 64 years old, less than the 70-75 years range offered by other providers
  • Term coverage ends at 75
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What is life insurance: An honest guide

Desjardins Life 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 is frequently ranked among the world’s 50 safest banks and financiers.

Desjardins offers a few term life 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 insurance, disability insurance, and whole life policies; you can obtain comprehensive protection through one provider
  • Allows multiple applicants on the same policy; 1 policy can cover the needs of an entire family
  • Ability to convert shorter-term products into longer-term products
  • Offers multi-policy discounts; can add up to significant savings during the course of coverage
  • Online account access

Cons

  • Limited term options; there are only 4 predetermined options to choose from
  • Cheaper straight term options are available from the competition
  • Offers paper policies by default, though digital copies are available from your advisor

Empire Life Insurance Review

Empire Whole Life

Best Term Life Insurance for Personalization

AM Best
Financial Strength Rating
A

PolicyAdvisor.com Rating

Empire Life Insurance offers the Solution series of term life insurance products, which provide life 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 coverage available upon renewal up to age 100.

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

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

Read our full Empire Life review.

Pros

  • Provides some of the most versatile coverage options in Canada
  • Ability to exchange shorter term policies (Annually renewable and 10 years ) into longer Empire Life term policies (20-year and 30-year coverage options)
  • Instant approval possible
  • Electronic contract delivery possible
  • Highly competitive premiums
  • Comprehensive offering of insurance riders
  • Solution 100 policy has cash values (unique for term policies)
  • Online account access

Cons

  • Limited term options
  • Annual renewable term coverage tops out at $499,999

Equitable Life Insurance 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 country’s largest mutual companies. The company offers various low-cost life insurance options, both for term and whole life markets. These options are designed to offer a variety of needs – from basic protection for families’ financial security to business protection for entrepreneurs and those that own their own company. For pure term insurance, the company offers 10-, 20- 30-year, and age 65 coverage.

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.

Equitable’s multiple term offerings allow the flexibility to combine them into a single life plan to allow ‘laddering’ of coverage; whereby you can only pay for coverage that you truly need.

Read our full Equitable Life review.

Pros

  • 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
  • Mid-range policy rates
  • Limited term offerings

Foresters Life Insurance Review

Foresters Whole Life Insurance

Best Term Life Insurance for Giving Back

AM Best
Financial Strength Rating
A

PolicyAdvisor.com Rating

oresters Financial’s Term Life Insurance is a pure term life insurance product – as its name suggests. It is renewable and convertible to their permanent life insurance products, without having to go through additional medical underwriting. It is also exchangeable for another term insurance policy with a longer term, if it is offered by Foresters at the time of exchange. This is an excellent product for meeting changing financial needs, with the added advantage of optional riders for children’s term life insurance, accidental death benefit, waiver of premiums, and additional term riders.

Read our full Foresters review.

Pros

  • Multiple coverage terms available
  • Simplified and quick fulfillment options available
  • Convertible into Foresters’ suite of whole life insurance 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 Life Insurance Review

Humania Assurance Inc

Best Term Life Insurance for Quick Issue Options

AM Best
Financial Strength Rating
––

PolicyAdvisor.com Rating

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. The company also offers a fixed premium term policy of up to age 80 and a conversion term of up to age 100.

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 fulfillment 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
  • Term coverage only available until age 80

Industrial Alliance Life Insurance Review

IA Whole Life Insurance

Best Term Life Insurance for Flexibility

AM Best
Financial Strength Rating
A+

PolicyAdvisor.com Rating

Industrial Alliance (iA) life insurance offers many customizable options with their term life 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 life insurance coverage with the specific years they may have outstanding debts or to align it with the years of financial support their dependents 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
  • Optional 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

Cons

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

ivari Life Insurance Review

Ivari

Best Term Life Insurance for Layering

AM Best
Financial Strength Rating
A+

PolicyAdvisor.com Rating

ivari is an 80-year old insurance company with multiple individual coverage products. It was once the Canadian branch of Transamerica Life. Term life 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. It is available in 10-, 20- or 30-year terms.

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 Life Insurance 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 insurer in Canada and one of the largest life insurers 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 insurance means their product is also one of the country’s best.

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

Read our full Manulife review.

Pros

  • Offers a fully electronic, digital fulfillment
  • Offers a 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

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 Life 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 – often times beating the competition on price alone. Applicants have the flexibility to choose different term lengths and coverage amounts, allowing them to personalize their coverage to their needs.

Read our full RBC Insurance review.

Pros

  • Affordable term life insurance premiums, that rank among the most competitive in the industry
  • Maximum coverage of $25 Million
  • 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 life 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
  • Answer just 10 questions to apply for coverage under $1,000,000

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

SSQ Life Insurance Review

SSQ Whole Life Insurance

Best Term Life Insurance For Combo Coverage

AM Best
Financial Strength Rating
A-

PolicyAdvisor.com Rating

SSQ Life Insurance’s flagship Term Plus product is a multi-purpose product that offers life coverage in addition to unique built-in features and customizable options that can comprehensively protect you against life’s biggest risks.  The Term Plus product can be combined with an optional disability and critical illness coverage, 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 services and account access

Cons

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

Sun Life Financial Life 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 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 to the market. However, the pricing of their premiums may not be easy on your wallet.

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 life insurance options available
  • Sun Life Go offers up to $1 Million coverage for all persons legally living in Canad

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 Life Insurance Review

TD Insurance Term Life Insurance Review

No Recommendation

AM Best
Financial Strength Rating
––

PolicyAdvisor.com Rating

Though TD Insurance’s life insurance product offers a few options for term life coverage, there are no differentiating factors strong enough to recommend TD Insurance over their many Canadian competitors.

TD Insurance’s life insurance premiums are typically more expensive compared to similar quotes from other insurers.

Their life insurance policies also offer limited features to personalize or augment the coverage.

Read our full TD Insurance review. 

Pros

  • TD Insurance offers pure term life insurance (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.
  • TD Insurance’s term life policies are significantly more expensive than plans from other leading life insurers for comparable amounts. You pay a much higher life insurance premium in exchange for the TD brand name
  • Convertibility options are limited, as TD Insurance only offers a non-participating whole life product. Most life insurance companies in Canada offer multiple options to convert your coverage into permanent options, including in participating whole life options, to achieve higher growth
  • There are limited riders or optional add-ons to augment coverage. Most insurance companies offer such optional features such as child term riders, guaranteed insurability, critical illness riders, and exchangeability, to help enhance and personalize coverage to your individual needs
  • Max age is 80 years old, which is less than the 85 years or lifetime coverage offered by most life insurance companies.
  • TD Insurance is not rated/accredited by major financial rating and customer service evaluators like AM Best or BBB

Wawanesa Life Insurance Review

wawanesa whole life insurance

Best Term Life Insurance For Price

AM Best
Financial Strength Rating
A

PolicyAdvisor.com Rating

Wawanesa Life is the life insurance arm of Wawanesa Insurance, a Canadian insurance conglomerate with products across the individual, home, farm and commercial business sectors. They offer term life insurance plans with terms ranging from 10 to 30 years and include a special term-to-age-80 option. When one chooses Wawanesa Insurance, they can potentially layer term plans if they enact 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 with Wawanesa insurance products
  • Premiums are frequently among the most affordable available in the industry
  • Ability to create layered or ‘laddered’ structures with Wawanesa insurance products, 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 with Wawanesa insurance products
  • Underwriting process can take relatively longer than other companies
  • Policies can only be converted into non-participating permanent products

What type of life insurance do I need?

There are several different types of life insurance you can choose from in Canada. At its most simple level, you can choose between two main types of life insurance: a permanent life insurance policy (also known as whole life insurance; these sometimes have cash value) and a term life insurance policy.

Many Canadians are best served by term insurance. This is a temporary type of life insurance coverage you apply for a set number of years, commonly a 10, 20, or 30-year life insurance term. 

The following reviews are based on the term insurance offerings of the respective life insurance companies. Term insurance is a specific kind of straight-forward life insurance 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 this type of life insurance is 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 life insurance 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 life 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 life insurance 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 evaluate your current assets. 

That’s a lot to keep in mind. If you need a hand in determining how much life insurance you need, our online insurance calculator can help you figure it out in minutes.

If you have time for reading and research, our page on how much life insurance one needs is a great place to start.

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 offering distinct policies for even those who are difficult to insure due to their state of health, travel and lifestyle history, or extreme hobbies.

We can’t recommend catch-all providers as the best life insurance companies that are right for everyone looking for the protection and security that term insurance provides. That’s why we researched and wrote the Canadian life insurance reviews you’ll see in this article.

Some people weigh a company’s size, financial strength ratings, and technology offering when choosing an insurance company and searching for life insurance quotes.

To read more about how to compare life insurance providers, read our feature on the biggest insurance companies in Canada as well as our reviews for other types of life insurance like the best whole life insurance, and best critical illness 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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