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Best critical illness insurance companies in Canada 2019

by Mark Cluett
25 min read

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.

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. This coverage is available for a period of time also known as term length, and you determine it when purchasing the policy. 

The payout is also called a living benefit because it does not depend on whether you have recovered or not, but instead is paid out while you are living once it is established you have contracted a specified illness or gone through certain health incidents.

Honest guide to critical illness insurance

What is critical illness insurance: An honest guide

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 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 these ailments are increasing, the recovery from them can still be daunting and require massive changes in your lifestyle and day-to-day needs.

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.

What does critical illness insurance cover featured image

What does critical illness insurance cover?

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 $2.5 million), the conditions covered (from 1 to 25+), the survival period (0-30 days), or the term (a 10-year term to coverage that lasts your lifetime).

And lastly, illnesses that are determined not to be terminal, but still debilitating might be eligible for a partial payment of up to 25%. 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:

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 2019.

Best Non-Medical Critical Illness Insurance

Assumption Life

Assumption Life

A-

AM Best
financial strength rating

PolicyAdvisor.com Rating

Best Non-Medical Critical Illness Insurance

Assumption Life

Assumption Life

A-

AM Best
financial strength rating

PolicyAdvisor.com Rating

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 

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

Assumption Life Critical Illness Quotes

Assumption Life Critical Illness Quotes

Most Comprehensive Critical Illness Insurance for Price

BMO

BMO Insurance

A

AM Best
financial strength rating

PolicyAdvisor.com Rating

Most Comprehensive Critical Illness Insurance for Price

BMO

BMO Insurance

A

AM Best
financial strength rating

PolicyAdvisor.com Rating

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.

Pros

  • Comprehensive: 25 conditions 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 option available

BMO Critical Illness Insurance Quotes

BMO Critical Illness Insurance Quotes

The Rolls Royce of Critical Illness Coverage

Canada Life

Canada Life

A+

AM Best
financial strength rating

PolicyAdvisor.com Rating

The Rolls Royce of Critical Illness Coverage

Canada Life

Canada Life

A+

AM Best
financial strength rating

PolicyAdvisor.com Rating

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.

Pros

  • Large coverage amounts and multiple terms including whole life options
  • Comprehensive: 25 covered conditions
  • Instant approval possible
  • No survival period on most conditions
  • Generous partial benefit payouts
  • Limited pay and return of premium options available
  • Child critical illness coverage available
  • Second option available

Cons

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

Canada Life Critical Illness Insurance Quotes

Canada Life Critical Illness Insurance Quotes

Best Partial Payment Coverage *Zero Digital Options*

Desjardins

Desjardins

AM Best
financial strength rating

PolicyAdvisor.com Rating

Best Partial Payment Coverage *Zero Digital Options*

Desjardin

Desjardins

AM Best
financial strength rating

PolicyAdvisor.com Rating

Desjardin Critical Illness Insurance Review

Desjardin’s 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, they offer very little in digital fulfillment. And, those previously mentioned partial payments count as an advance against your overall payout.

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)
  • Whole life coverage and limited pay options available
  • Children’s coverage available

Cons

  • No electronic application – only paper form
  • No online access
  • Partial payment is an advance and reduces overall coverage
  • No second option

Best Critical Illness Products for Couples

Empire Life

Empire Life

A

AM Best
financial strength rating

PolicyAdvisor.com Rating

Best Critical Illness for Couples

Empire Life

Empire Life

A

AM Best
financial strength rating

PolicyAdvisor.com Rating

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.

Pros

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

Cons

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

Empire Life Critical Illness Insurance Quotes

Empire Life Critical Illness Insurance Quotes

Best Critical Illness For Families

Equitable Life

Equitable Life of Canada

AM Best
financial strength rating

PolicyAdvisor.com Rating

Best Critical Illness For Families

Equitable Life

Equitable Life of Canada

AM Best
financial strength rating

PolicyAdvisor.com Rating

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.

Pros

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

Cons

  • No limited pay options
  • No second option
  • No whole life coverage

Equitable Life Critical Illness Insurance Quotes

Equitable Life Critical Illness Insurance Quotes

Best For Basic Coverage

Foresters Financial

Foresters Life Insurance

A

AM Best
financial strength rating

PolicyAdvisor.com Rating

Best For Basic Coverage

Foresters Financial

Foresters Life Insurance

A

AM Best
financial strength rating

PolicyAdvisor.com Rating

Foresters’ Critical Illness Insurance Review

Foresters’ Health Security Plus is the Honda Civic of critical illness insurance – it only offers the basics (6 covered conditions), but it gets them right, including the most commonly occurring health issues. While they offer an enhanced product that covers more, Health Security Plus is the best choice for those looking for only the essentials.

Pros

  • Six disease coverage (better than other basic coverage plans)
  • Access to Foresters’ community benefits
  • Return of premium options available

Cons

  • Limited coverage term (only 10 years term) and amount (max of $100,000)
  • No partial payment for non-life threatening illnesses
  • No limited pay options available
  • No children’s coverage
  • No whole life coverage

Foresters’ Critical Illness Insurance Quotes

Foresters’ Critical Illness Insurance Quotes

Best Critical Illness Insurance for Children

Humania

Humania Assurance Inc

AM Best
financial strength rating

PolicyAdvisor.com Rating

Best Critical Illness Insurance for Children

Humania

Humania Assurance Inc

AM Best
financial strength rating

PolicyAdvisor.com Rating

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 covered conditions, including several that are specific to children. Humania also offers a compassionate allowance for grieving parents if that unfortunate situation does occur.

Pros

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

Cons

  • Limited partial payment benefit (only 3 covered conditions)
  • No lifetime coverage
  • No limited pay options

Humania Critical Illness Insurance Quotes

Humania Critical Illness Insurance Quotes

Best Critical Illness Insurance for Flexibility

iA Financial Group

IA Financial Group

A+

AM Best
financial strength rating

PolicyAdvisor.com Rating

Best Critical Illness Insurance for Flexibility

iA Financial Group

IA Financial Group

A+

AM Best
financial strength rating

PolicyAdvisor.com Rating

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.

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 option
  • No long term care conversion option

Industrial Alliance Critical Illness Insurance Quotes

Industrial Alliance Critical Illness Insurance Quotes

Best Critical Illness Insurance for Bundling

ivari

Ivari

A+

AM Best
financial strength rating

PolicyAdvisor.com Rating

Best Critical Illness Insurance for Bundling

ivari

Ivari

A+

AM Best
financial strength rating

PolicyAdvisor.com Rating

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!

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 whole life coverage

ivari Critical Illness Insurance Quotes

ivari Critical Illness Insurance Quotes

Best Critical Illness Insurance Combo Product

Manulife

Manulife

A+

AM Best
financial strength rating

PolicyAdvisor.com Rating

Best Critical Illness Insurance Combo Product

Manulife

Manulife

A+

AM Best
financial strength rating

PolicyAdvisor.com Rating

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.

Pros

  • Large coverage amounts available (up to $2 million)
  • Multiple coverage terms available (including whole life coverage)
  • Comprehensive conditions covered (25 full payout illnesses)
  • Generous partial benefit payouts
  • Return of premium and limited pay options available
  • Payment for temporary loss of independent existence
  • Online access

Cons

  • Return of premium options are expensive
  • Only offer monthly payments for loss of independent existence
  • No children’s coverage available
  • No second option

Manulife Critical Illness Insurance Quotes

Manulife Critical Illness Insurance Quotes

Best Critical Illness Insurance/Long-Term Care Combo Product

RBC Insurance

RBC Insurance

A

AM Best
financial strength rating

PolicyAdvisor.com Rating

Best Critical Illness Insurance/Long-Term Care Combo Product

RBC Insurance

RBC Insurance

A

AM Best
financial strength rating

PolicyAdvisor.com Rating

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 older without proof of their insurability.

Pros

  • Large coverage amounts
  • 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 on expiry or cancellation
  • No coverage for children
  • No lifetime coverage or limited pay options

RBC Critical Illness Insurance Quotes

RBC Critical Illness Insurance Quotes

Best Critical Illness Insurance For Those Seeking A Mutual

SSQ Insurance

SSQ Financial Group

A-

AM Best
financial strength rating

PolicyAdvisor.com Rating

Best Critical Illness Insurance For Those Seeking A Mutual

SSQ Insurance

SSQ Financial Group

A-

AM Best
financial strength rating

PolicyAdvisor.com Rating

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.

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 available

Cons

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

SSQ Critical Illness Insurance Quotes

SSQ Critical Illness Insurance Quotes

Best Critical Illness Insurance If You Must Use A Pen

Sun Life Financial

Sun Life Financial

A+

AM Best
financial strength rating

PolicyAdvisor.com Rating

Best Critical Illness Insurance If You Must Use A Pen

Sun Life Financial

Sun Life Financial

A+

AM Best
financial strength rating

PolicyAdvisor.com Rating

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 in 2019.

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
  • Whole life 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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