Reviews: The best life insurance companies in Canada 2021

by Mark Cluett
28 min read

The top 5 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, is a leading provider of simplified and flexible term life insurance in Canada. The insurance company offers five separate policies 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 term life insurance 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 life insurance
  • Flexible payment options
  • Multi-policy discounts available
  • Over 100 years of experience

Cons

  • Only issues paper policies, no digital option
  • Typically slightly higher premiums than the competitors
  • Smaller company when compared to others on annual premiums

BMO Life Insurance Review

BMO Whole Life Insurance

Best Life Insurance for Affordability

AM Best
Financial Strength Rating
A

PolicyAdvisor.com Rating

BMO’s option is one of the best insurance companies in Canada 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 policyholders needing financial support while dealing with a terminal illness
  • Options to convert into multiple types of permanent life insurance
  • Electronic contract delivery
  • Multi-policy discount available
  • Top 10 largest insurance company based on annual premium

Cons

  • No online account
  • Longer-term life insurance policy (Term 25 and Term 30) not renewable
  • Long turn around times for underwriting, policy issue, and policy changes

Canada Life Insurance 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 life 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 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

  • 4 different term lengths available (10, 20, 30, and to age 65)
  • Multiple rider options for single and joint policies
  • Can convert into Canada Life suite of permanent life insurance
  • Over 150 years of insurance experience
  • No policy fee
  • Preferred rates available
  • Can exchange a term 10 for a longer term product
  • Up to $2,000,000 non-medical maximum up to age 45

Cons

  • Minimum $100,000 death benefit required
  • No option to pick your own term
  • Canada Life premiums tend to be more expensive than other options
  • No access to online account features
  • No multi-policy discount available

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 insurance provider for non-medical and simplified life insurance in Canada. If you’re having difficulty finding term life 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, a lower-priced life insurance policy may be available to you.

Read the full Canada Protection Plan review.

Pros

  • Multiple policies offering simplified, no-medical coverage for applicants across all health categories
  • Most policies are available through a quick, simple, online application without any medical tests
  • Several terms are available including 10, 20, 25, and 30 year coverages
  • 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
  • Customers can pay annual premiums by credit card
  • Fast turnaround time for underwriting

Cons

  • Canada Protection Plan insurance products 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 tax free, lump sum death benefit. If you require higher amount of coverage, you will need to look for another insurance provider.
  • No multi-policy discount available

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

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 life 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 insurance conversion options
  • Typically higher premiums
  • One of the smallest insurance companies in Canada based on annual premium
  • Read more in the full review
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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 life insurance providers and is frequently ranked among the world’s 50 safest banks and financiers.

Desjardins offers a few term insurance products to cover fixed-term needs such as lifestyle protection, mortgage coverage, or providing for your children’s education. The policies offer 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
  • Ability to convert shorter-term policies into longer-term
  • Now offers electronic policies as opposed to solely paper-based
  • High discounts available when combined with critical illness
  • Multi-policy discount available
  • Top 5 largest insurance company in Canada based on annual premium
  • Up to $1,000,000 non-medical evidence maximum up to age 50

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, 25, or 30-year terms and a permanent life insurance policy 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 life insurance policy renews every year, as opposed to a multi-year term.

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

Read our full Empire Life review.

Pros

  • Empire Life has offers multiple term coverage options
  • Ability to exchange shorter term policies (Annually renewable and 10 years ) into longer term Empire Life policies (20-year, 25-year, and 30-year coverage options)
  • Instant approval possible
  • Electronic contract delivery possible
  • Online account access
  • Multi-policy discount available. Typically one of the lower premium options for couples
  • Various riders available including term life, critical illness, and disability credit protection riders
  • Up to $1,000,000 non-medical evidence maximum up to age 50

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 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 largest mutual insurance companies in Canada. They offers various low-cost life insurance options, both for term and whole life coverage. These insurance products 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 life insurance policies 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
  • Electronic contract delivery
  • Up to $1,000,000 non-medical evidence maximum up to age 50

Cons

  • Only limited terms are available
  • Preferred rates are available only for $1 million coverage and above

Foresters Life 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 policy – as its name suggests. It is renewable and convertible to their permanent life insurance plans, 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 fulfillment options available
  • Convertible into Foresters’ suite of permanent life insurance policies, which offer both participating and non-participating options
  • Unique community membership benefits
  • Online access to policy details

Cons

  • Term policies are priced higher than some comparable industry products
  • 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 offers multiple term insurance policies, including both medical and non-medical life insurance products.

Humania’s flagship HuGo Life Insurance aims to accept your application quickly with the least requirements possible. The policy 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 fulfillment options are available
  • Online access to policy details
  • Non-medical life insurance 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 HuGo
  • Conversion option only available up to age 65
  • Stringent underwriting requirements

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) offers many customizable options with their term insurance policies, 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 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
  • 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
  • Many conversion options: term-to-100, participating, and non-participating whole life are options when your term is expired
  • Electronic contract delivery
  • Standard rates available to individuals will health concerns that are well maintained (example type II diabetes)
  • Multi-policy discount available
  • Up to $2,000,000 non-medical maximum up to age 50

Cons

  • There may be less expensive alternatives available for straight term coverage
  • Longer application than some competitors

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 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 insurance or critical illness insurance protection to create personalized life insurance 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
  • Ability to layer with a universal life insurance policy
  • Multiple term options are available
  • 30-year term offers unique flexibilities, upon maturity
  • Online access to policy details
  • Electronic contract delivery

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
  • Limited conversion options into permanent products

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 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

  • 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) respectively
  • 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
  • Multi-policy discount is available. Additional savings available for couples who are applying for identical policies
  • Fast turnaround time
  • Up to $3,000,000 non-medical evidence maximum up to age 50

Cons

  • Limited term options are available
  • Pricing is more expensive than comparable term life insurance products available in the market
  • No online account access
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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. 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
  • Multiple conversion options available includes whole life, universal life, and term-to-100
  • Up to $2,000,000 non-medical evidence maximum up to age 50

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
  • No online account access

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’s flagship Term Plus product is a multi-purpose product that offers life insurance 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 insurance 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 for >$250,000 death benefit
  • Online account access
  • Multi-policy discount available
  • Up to $1,000,000 non-medical evidence maximum up to age 50

Cons

  • Average 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 life insurance products (SunTerm, SunSpectrum, and Sun Life Go) 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 Sun Life 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 insurance and universal life insurance policies offered by Sun Life
  • Medical and no-medical life insurance options available

Cons

  • Limited term options are available with Sun Life (only 4)
  • You cannot choose your own coverage term with Sun Life as other Canadian providers offer
  • Sun Life pricing is significantly higher than comparable term life insurance products
  • 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 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 life insurance 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 for $500,000 tax free, lum sum death benefit 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 Life Insurance Review

wawanesa whole life insurance

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 life insurance products with terms ranging from 10 to 30 years and include a special term-to-age-80 option. One can potentially layer term life coverage if they opt for a base plan and add up to four term-riders of various initial term lengths within a single life insurance policy.

Read our full Wawanesa Insurance review. 

Pros

  • Multiple term life options are available
  • Premiums are frequently among the most affordable in the industry; they offer the best rates
  • 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 at any amount of coverage
  • Ability to get coverage without medicals for up to $500,000 tax free, lump sum death benefit if you are below the age of 45
  • Offer digital life insurance policy delivery

Cons

  • Underwriting process can take relatively longer than other companies
  • Policies can only be converted into participating permanent life insurance
  • No online account access
  • Smaller insurance company when compared on annual premiums.

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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