Life Insurance Reviews: The Best Life Insurance in Canada 2021

Subject matter expert reviewed
By: Laura McKay, PolicyMe Co-Founder and COO, Life Insurance Industry Professional of 10+ Years

Looking for the best life insurance in Canada? You've come to the right place to make the right choice for you and your family.

We've put together the go-to resource with reviews on the top life insurance providers, helping you find the best life insurance in Canada for your specific needs. You can shop with confidence and know you made the best choice to fit your needs.

Best life insurance companies in Canada by price

Looking for pricing highlights from the top life insurance companies in Canada? Here's a quick summary of the average price you can expect, depending on your needs and the type of coverage you are interested in.

Life insurance compies by price comparison table which states that PolicyMe is the best life insurance for individuals (for page on Life Insurance Reviews)

All prices in this article are based on a healthy individual purchasing a 20-year term life insurance plan with $500,000 in coverage, unless otherwise stated.

You can check out the table below to see a sample of monthly premiums and how they vary based on your insurer.

Average life insurance rates in Canada

Company Premium
PolicyMe* $17.16 / month
Wawanesa $18.23 / month
Empire Life $18.68 / month
RBC $19.62 / month
Canada Life $19.80 / month
Industrial Alliance $19.80 / month
Manulife $20.16 / month
Canada Protection Plan $20.93 / month
Sun Life $22.28 / month

Premiums based on 20-year term coverage of $250,000 for a 30-year old man, non smoker.

* Policies sold by PolicyMe are underwritten by Canadian Premier Life Insurance Company and other life insurance carriers

Now that you’ve seen how much life insurance can cost in Canada, let’s dive into reviews of individual life insurance companies in Canada. We’ll look at ease of application, trustworthiness and everything else you need to know about r the top life insurance providers in Canada so you can make an informed decision.

best life insurance canada

How we evaluate Canadian life insurance providers

When you're signing an agreement that can last decades, it's important to take the time to weigh your options.

But what factors should you be considering? Some of the factors you'll want to consider include: 

  • Price: How much will your policy cost?
  • Time: How long does it take to get approved?
  • Process: Can you do everything online or do you have to make numerous trips to see somebody in person? 
  • Trustworthiness: What do other Canadians say about this life insurance company? How long have they been in business and is a reputable company backing them so claims are sure to be paid out?
  • Coverage: Does the insurer only offer small payouts or are there options to buy over $1M in coverage?
  • No Medical: Does the insurer require a medical? Is there a “no medical” option?

With all of this in mind, let’s look at some of the best and most well-known life insurance companies in Canada and whether they’re right for your specific needs.

top rated life insurance companies in canada

The best life insurance companies in Canada (overall)

Here are some recommendations to help you avoid getting caught in the weeds trying to choose an individual life insurance provider. Note that there's no third party site that reviews every life insurance company in Canada, so we've included ratings where available. 

All companies are scored by customers on a scale of 0 to 5!

PolicyMe

Reviews.io score: 4.83

Key takeaway: PolicyMe's data-driven underwriting process means that you're getting the best price without unnecessary medical exams, medical interviews or tedious paperwork.

PolicyMe started out as a life insurance broker, seeing firsthand how inefficient the current life insurance process was. This inefficiency caused increased prices and application times for traditional insurers.

With this knowledge, PolicyMe launched Canada's first fully digital life insurance product. 

This eliminated unnecessary administrative and distribution costs, passing the savings down to policyholders — people applying for a new policy can expect the lowest premiums in Canada with PolicyMe, when compared to the rest of the industry.

Most of PolicyMe's policies are issued by Canadian Premier Life Insurance Company, a federally-regulated life insurance company that's been operating in Canada for over 60 years, with over $300M in assets and $40M in claims paid (across all product lines) in 2020.

Price: For a 35-year old woman, PolicyMe life insurance costs $23.44/month. For a 35-year old man, it costs $31.29/month.

At PolicyMe, we’re intentional with the products we offer because we know that our customers are intentional with how they spend, save and invest their money.

We’ve cut unnecessary steps and expenses to offer you the most affordable product in Canada, with the same quality of coverage. The result? You get the protection you need and at a price that you can afford.

Want to see for yourself? Get a quote in seconds and apply in 20 minutes or less, all online and without the hassle.

Wawanesa Life Insurance

InsurEye score:  3.3

Key takeaway:  If you have pre-existing health conditions, you may not want to buy a Wawanesa policy.

Founded in 1896, Wawanesa is one of the oldest insurers in Canada. Its headquarters sits in Manitoba, but they are licensed in all provinces across the country.

Price: You're looking at $36.66/month or $439.9/year for coverage as a man, and $28.80/month or $320.00/year for a woman.

Sun Life Financial Life Insurance

InsurEye score: 2.6

Key takeaway: With their full range of different term life products, you’re likely to find something that fits your needs. However, their customer service is lacking.

Price: For a woman, the Sun Life term life insurance cost would fall in the $23 to $33 per month range. The same plan would cost $29 to $41 monthly for a man.

RBC Life Insurance

InsurEye score: 1.8

Key takeaway: RBC’s rates can be categorized as average across the board. 

Price: Premiums start at an average of $24.26 per month for a woman, or $32.63 per month for a man.

Read full RBC Life Insurance review here.

BMO Life Insurance

InsurEye score: 2.4

Key takeaway: BMO prices are typically 2% more affordable than other competitor premiums which makes them a viable option for Canadians looking to buy term life insurance. 

Price: Premiums start at an average of $26.10 monthly premiums for a woman, or $33.30 monthly premiums for a man.

Read full BMO Life Insurance review here.

TD Life Insurance

InsurEye score: 1.8

Key takeaway: TD term life insurance is more expensive than the rest of the life insurance market. At an average of 18% more expensive with differentiators or benefits, we can’t recommend purchasing from this provider.

Price: At the lowest range, the rates start at approximately $28 per month for a woman, or starting at $37 per month for a man.

Read full TD Life Insurance Review here.

The best life insurance for couples in Canada

Life insurance for couples may not seem like the most romantic purchase you can make with your partner, but it's definitely one of the most important ones.

There are also some major benefits of buying life insurance as a couple, including:

  1. Lower policy fees: When you buy both of your policies together, some insurance companies may offer you a discounted rate, as they save on administrative costs by processing two applications as one.
  2. Only managing one contract: There are less paperwork and contracts to keep track of, which makes it even easier to manage

It's important to note, while these are great perks, they don't apply to every life insurance provider. Not every company provides discounts for applying as a couple, and you also both have to be approved for coverage. 

If one partner applying is declined, it impacts both applicants. 

On top of this, you must make sure that both parties in the couple are sharing one death benefit. In the scenario that you share this benefit, the payout will be lower than if you had two separate policies.

Here are our reviews for life insurance for couples.

Top pick: PolicyMe

Reviews.io score: 4.83

Key takeaway: Clients can  expect  the lowest premium rates in Canada when compared to the rest of the industry.

Price: For a 35-year old woman, PolicyMe life insurance costs $23.44/month. For a 35- year old man, it costs $31.29/month. When couples apply together, they get 5% off their policies, saving them time and money. The entire application process takes less than 20 minutes per application.

With our streamlined process, you can select your own coverage amount and length without the hassle of upselling or pressure. And by bundling you and your partners applications together, we are able to cut down on inefficient administration costs and pass the savings back to you.

Choose your own coverage amount and term length, so you can get the right kind of life insurance to protect your family when they need it most.

Manulife

InsurEye score: 2.4

Key takeaway: Manulife offers one of the most affordable options for couples applying together. However, customers complain of difficulty with cancellation and long processing times.

Founded in 1887, Manulife is one of the biggest insurers in Canada, with over 30 million customers worldwide. Manulife offers a wide range of life and health insurance products as well as group life insurance plans. Many customers may recognize the brand if they have some health coverage through work.

Price: Assuming a man and woman couple, your life insurance would cost $60.55/month to cover both of you. If you and your partner are both men, you're looking at $69.68/ month. If you and your partner are both women, your monthly rate would sit at around $51.10/month.

Read full Manulife Life Insurance review here.

Assumption life insurance

BBB score: 4

Key takeaway: They offer very flexible coverage types. But your life insurance policy will only be provided in paper form. 

Price: If you choose Assumption Life, you would be looking at $73.80 per month for a joint life insurance policy to cover you and your partner.

Canada Life Term Life Insurance

InsurEye score: 1.5

Key takeaway: With all of this flexibility available as part of their joint policies, it's no wonder they're worth investigating if you're looking for life insurance as a couple.

Price: Priced out separately, a Canada Life insurance plan would cost $27.45/month or $305.00/year for a man and $26.55/month or $295.00 year for a woman.

Read full review of Canada Life insurance here.

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The best life insurance for people with medical conditions in Canada

If you’ve already had a health crisis, you know how important it is to protect and provide for your loved ones. But a pre-existing condition or a family history of serious medical issues may also make it harder to secure coverage at all.

However, there are still options out there! You can find some great providers who don't require any type of medical tests beforehand.

Here is our top recommendation.

Top pick: Canada Protection Plan Life Insurance

InsurEye score: 1.5

Canada Protection Plan is a leading provider of No Medical & Simplified Issue Life Insurance in Canada. That means that they do not require the extensive medical telephone exams needed with the other insurers in Canada.

However, this isn't a good option if you're just avoiding a nurse visit. You'll end up paying a lot more, because their coverage is for people who are typically seen as 'high risk'.

Key takeaway: Canada Protection Plan is a great option if you want to avoid going through medicals knowing that you already have a health condition that makes coverage expensive - you may as well avoid the headache! 

Price: For a man, coverage would cost you $85.95/month, and coverage for a woman would cost you $60.30/month.

Read full Canada Protection Plan Insurance review here. 

The best life insurance for smokers in Canada

It's no surprise that tobacco products put people at higher risks for health issues. Because of this, life insurance for smokers tends to be priced at higher rates.

And keep in mind that it's not just a cigarette that makes you a smoker in the eyes of certain life insurance providers. If you have had a cigarette, cigar, e-cigarette product (including vapes and juuls), or any other tobacco product within the last 12 months, you can expect to pay the smokers rate.

If you're a smoker, it's especially important to find the best price available, given you're already at a higher price range — up to 200% higher than the average life insurance price. Here are our top recommendations:

Top pick: iA Financial Life Insurance

InsurEye score: 2.6

Founded in 1892, iA Financial Group is one of the largest insurance and wealth management groups in Canada, with operations in the United States.

Key takeaway: As far as plans for smokers, their prices are pretty reasonable. However, there are only paper policies available (versus receiving your policy online). It means more paper to keep track of.

Price: As a smoker, a man would be looking at $89.10/month or $990.00/year. For a woman with the same coverage, you would be looking at $67.05/month or $745.00/year.

ivari Life

InsurEye score: 2.1

Key takeaway: ivari has a wide variety of coverage options and terms available to their customers. That said, their prices trend towards the higher end of the scale. 

Price: For the same term, ivari would cost $72.00/month or $800/year for a woman and $96.75/month or $1,075.00/year for a man smoker.

Foresters Life Insurance

InsurEye score: 3

Key takeaway: Foresters have a decent amount of restrictions for their online presence. There are no digital or e-policy upon approvals, only paper policies available. There is also no online access to policy details, so you would have to call to get any details.

Price: Foresters would cost $109.80/month or $1,220.00/year for a man and $80.55/month or $895.00/year for a man smoker.

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Armed with these reviews and personalized quotes on the best life insurance in Canada, you’ll be able to sign up with the confidence you’re making the right choice for you and your loved ones.

To get the right policy for you:

  • Evaluate your coverage needs (length, amount, etc.)
  • Check out the top life insurance providers in Canada
  • Comb through reviews for these life insurance companies
  • Compare different life insurance quotes
  • Select the policy that works for you, when you need it the most!

PolicyMe empowers you with genuine advice that’s specific to your real-life financial and family needs. No jargon and no industry terms that could confuse you into buying more than you actually need.

Instead, we help you proceed with confidence and provide you with resources that guide you towards the best financial decisions for you and your loved ones. With our streamlined, online process, you can select your own coverage amount and term length without the hassle of upselling or pressure.

What is life insurance?

Life insurance is for anyone who has a spouse, partner, or children who rely on them financially. You can get individual life insurance or buy plans as a couple, depending on your needs. 

This means that if your monthly income helps support your family's expenses (anything from groceries to debt payments to monthly retirement savings contributions, etc.), you're probably someone who needs life insurance.

To put it simply, life insurance is an agreement with an insurance company. You pay a monthly fee and in return, your insurance company agrees to pay out a lump sum of cash to your family if you pass away during the time that your insurance policy is active.

How does life insurance work in Canada?

The structure of a life insurance policy is simple — you pay premiums each month to an insurance company over an agreed period of time. 

If you pass away when the policy is active (while you are still paying premiums), the insurance company promises to give your loved ones a tax-free lump sum cash payment (the "death benefit") if anything happens to you.

This death benefit will help your loved ones reach their financial goals, paying monthly bills, and maintain their lifestyle, even if your paycheck isn't coming in to help support them. This is why 33 percent of parents with children under the age of 18 have term life insurance.

As the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada explains further:

“The death benefit paid from a life insurance policy is a tax-free, lump-sum amount that can be used to:

  • replace your income so your family can maintain their standard of living
  • provide for your children or dependents
  • pay for funeral expenses
  • pay off your debts
  • make a gift to charity”
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What types of life insurance exist?

Term life insurance

Term life insurance pays out a tax-free death benefit to your loved ones only if you die within a specified number of years (usually 10, 20, or 30 years). 

Term life is the right option if you want protection for the years that matter most (when you still have a mortgage & children in the house).

For most people, the term life insurance company they choose is the one that offers them the best rate. Check out some sample life insurance quotes for a healthy-woman applying for $500,000 of 20-year term life insurance. For reference, the average life insurance protection per household in Canada is $442,000, as noted by the Canadian Life & Health Insurance Association

Company 35-Year-Old Male 35-Year-Old Female
PolicyMe Life Insurance* $31.29/month $23.44/month
Wawanesa Life $28.63/month $25.65/month
RBC Life Insurance $32.63 / month $24.26 / month
BMO Life Insurance $33.30 / month $26.10 / month
Canada Protection Plan** $53.55 / month $41.40 / month

* Policies sold by PolicyMe are underwritten by Canadian Premier Life Insurance Company and other life insurance carriers **rate for applicants with health risks, as CPP is the top recommended choice Once you submit your application, it's sent to an underwriter whose job it is to review your information and to calculate the true cost of insuring you. They will review your health, financial wellness, and lifestyle data and set a final price for your policy.

Permanent life insurance

Permanent life insurance pays out a benefit to your beneficiaries no matter when you die (hence why it is called permanent insurance). Permanent life insurance comes in a couple of different forms, including whole life, universal, or variable life insurance.

49 per cent of Canadians that bought life insurance through an advisor (i.e. not through their work) bought a permanent policy. However, many don't realize that brokers are incentivized to sell you permanent coverage instead of term coverage because they typically receive 5-10x more commission.

Permanent life insurance policies are much more expensive than term life insurance policies because the policy also acts as an investment account. Your premiums are designed to build cash value over your life. But don't be fooled — this is NOT a cost-free financial investment, and it turns out to be much more expensive and inflexible than other ways of investing.

Permanent life insurance policies tend to be less straightforward than term insurance. You'll want to understand all the fine print and details before buying this kind of policy. 

For example, be sure to know the terms of the cash value component. Every permanent life policy has a guaranteed interest rate so you should understand how these differ by company.

How do I buy life insurance in Canada?

There are three main ways to buy:

  1. Directly with a company online (like PolicyMe)
  2. Through an independent local insurance agent
  3. Through independent broker online

You'll want to look at different providers and see their prices before buying anything. Asking numerous providers will help you decide who to go with when it's time to buy.

FAQ: Choosing a life insurance provider in Canada

What is the most trusted life insurance company? 

When you’re looking for a reliable life insurance partner, trust is an imperative. Many Canadians feel more comfortable with one of the big life insurance companies, such as Manulife or Sun Life. Still others form a relationship with an agent or broker and put their trust in that person.

Another indicator of insurer trust are the customer reviews. PolicyMe is a trusted insurer by Canadians, with consistently positive customer reviews. Whatever direction you choose to go, do your homework!

How do I choose the best life insurance policy? 

There are three factors to choosing the best life insurance policy: price, time, and process. 

Get several quotes for a point of comparison and analyze them for competitive pricing, how responsive the company is to policyholders and whether they support digital or electronic documents. It’s a good idea to consider the stability of the insurer as well, especially when it comes to a life insurance policy with a longer term.

Which company is best for a term plan? 

Manulife, Sun Life and Canada Life may be the biggest providers of term life insurance in Canada, but size isn’t everything. When it comes to competitive pricing, streamlined application processes and reliable coverage, PolicyMe offers the best package.

Who is the number one life insurance company in Canada?

Manulife may be the largest life insurance company in Canada, perhaps even in the world. Based in Toronto, Ontario, Manulife operates in Asia and Europe, as well as in Canada and the United States. The company was established in 1887 and brings in more than $60 billion in revenue.

What is the oldest life insurance company in Canada? 

Canada Life may be the oldest life insurance company in Canada. Nearly 200 years of experience exist between the three companies that make up today’s organization: The Great-West Life Assurance Company, London Life Insurance Company and The Canada Life Assurance Company.

How many life insurance companies are in Canada?  

According to the CLHIA, there are more than 150 life and health insurance providers in Canada. This offers a lot of choice to Canadians looking for coverage, with a wide range of products available. The three largest include Manulife, Sun Life and Canada Life, but Canadians can secure coverage from smaller independent and insurtech carriers as well.

Laura McKay

COO & Co-Founder

About the Author

Laura brings 7 years of experience working in insurance & strategic operations as a management consultant at Oliver Wyman, after experiences at Manulife and Munich Re. In 2017, she launched a successful initiative for the World Economic Forum focused on innovation in insurance, working closely with insurers, tech pioneers, and policy-makers.

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