Editorial Review

Life Insurance Reviews: The Best Life Insurance in Canada 2021

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

Looking for the best life insurance in Canada? Trying to pick a provider? You've come to the right place. 

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. 

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

Review Highlights

Looking for pricing highlights? Here's a quick summary of the average price you can expect, depending on your needs.

If you want to start your application with PolicyMe, you can easily from the comfort of home!

Want to learn more first? We'll go over everything you need to know about life insurance and reviews for the top insurers in Canada.

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.

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

Comparison of Life Insurance Quotes

Company$250,000 20-year term life insurance
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

Prices based on 30-year old male, non-smoker.

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

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 paying monthly bills, maintain their lifestyle, and accomplish those bigger goals, even if your paycheck isn't coming in to help support them.

What Types of Life Insurance Exist?

Before we dive into the best life insurance in Canada, it's helpful to know what types of life insurance actually exist! The two options are term and permanent life insurance, which we'll break down.

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-female applying for $500,000 of 20-year term life insurance.

Company 35-Year-Old Male35-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.

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.

But how do you choose?

Evaluating Different 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?

With all of this in mind, you're ready to start shopping.

Best Life Insurance Companies in Canada

Once you have loved ones who are financially dependent on you, it's time to consider an individual life insurance plan

Here are some recommendations to help you avoid getting caught in the weeds trying to choose an individual life insurance provider.

Best Life Insurance in Canada for Individuals

Top Pick: PolicyMe

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

Armed with this knowledge, PolicyMe launched Canada's first fully digital life insurance product. That eliminated unnecessary administrative and distribution costs, passing the savings down to policyholders - people applying for a new policy can expect 10-20% cheaper premiums with PolicyMe compared to the rest of the industry. 

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

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 female, PolicyMe life insurance costs $23.44/month. For a 35- year old male, it costs $31.29/month. 

Pros & Cons: With PolicyMe, you're getting the same quality of coverage for a cheaper price, and a significantly shorter and less tedious application process. For individual applicants, it's a no-brainer.

A disadvantage with PolicyMe is the lack of a discount for joint policies. However, combining the lower individual prices usually still comes out cheaper than most other insurers with joint discounts. PolicyMe is also currently not licensed in Quebec or Saskatchewan.

Other Options for Individual Life Insurance

Wawanesa Life Insurance 

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 male, and $28.80/month or $320.00/year for a female.

Pros & Cons: Wawanesa is known for their lower prices. On the flip side, it may be challenging for many individuals with pre-existing health conditions to actually get approved at these prices. In our experience, while premiums aren't as high, neither are approval rates. If you have pre-existing health conditions, you may not want to buy a  Wawanesa policy. 

Sun Life Financial Life Insurance Review

If you're struggling to figure out what fits your individual needs the best, Sun Life Financial has options - they offer four different term life insurance plans. The main difference between each of their policies is the coverage. Their simplest plan has fixed coverage rates, taking the guesswork out of amounts needed. If you want a specific amount, you can look at one of their more complicated plans.

Price: For a female, the Sun Life term life insurance cost would fall in the $23.00-$33.00/ month range. The same plan would cost $29.00-$41.00 monthly for a male.

Pros & Cons: With their different term life products, it's easy to find something that fits your needs.

The Best Life Insurance for Couples in Canada

Buying 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 more important ones. 

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

  • 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.
  • 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.

Here are our reviews for life insurance for couples.

Top Pick: Manulife

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.

Manulife's Combined Family Term life insurance policy acts like a family policy that covers both you and your partner. It operates like having two separate policies (2 separate death benefits will be paid) but there is a discount on the policy for combining them into one. Manulife adds an additional 3% savings when you select the same coverage amount and policy length for you and your spouse.

Read More: Full Manulife Life Insurance Review

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

Pros & Cons: Manulife has one of the fastest turnaround times in the industry. With their accelerated underwriting process, you can get approved sooner. They also offer one of the most affordable options for couples applying together.

Other Options for Joint Life Insurance

Assumption Life Insurance Review

Assumption Life has four different plans available for adults, with two that are worth investigating more as a joint life insurance policy. Their FlexTerm and FlexOption plans are cheaper than their other options that don't require any type of medical screening. Assumption Life also makes it easy for you to get plans that cover you and your partner at the same time. 

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. 

Pros & Cons: The process for applying is quick, easy, and online. You can access your account online, but your policy will be issued by print.

Canada Life Term Life Insurance Review

Canada Life is one of the country's largest and most stable insurers in Canada. They offer a large range of term life plans at different lengths, and they have multiple rider options for both single and joint policies. 

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 male and $26.55/month or $295.00 year for a female.

Pros & Cons: If you want under $100,000 in coverage, you can't get a plan with Canada Life - that is their minimum plan.

The Best Life Insurance for People with Medical Conditions 

If you have pre-existing health issues, you've probably realized very quickly that getting life insurance coverage can be a little tricky - you may be seen as an at-risk life insurance applicant.

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

Here are our top recommendations.

Top Pick: Canada Protection Plan Life Insurance Review

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. Compare Canada Protection Plan life insurance quotes today.

Read More: Full CPP Life Insurance Review

Shopping for a life insurance policy can be especially intimidating for anyone recently diagnosed with a severe health condition such as a heart attack, cancer, or a stroke - you may need high-risk life insurance, from the perspective of your provider. Simplified issue or guaranteed issue products are life insurance products that do not require medical exams (or sometimes even medical questions) to qualify. 

The trade-off is that the policies for those with health risks are much more expensive than traditional term life insurance. There is usually a cap on the amount of coverage you can get. But if you are unable to purchase regular term insurance, a simplified issue or guaranteed issue life insurance policy could be an excellent way to get some life insurance coverage and a small death benefit for your family.

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

Pros & Cons: Canada Protection Plan is a wonderful 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! However, this isn't a great option if you're simply avoiding a nurse visit. You'll end up paying a lot more due to the fact they offer greater coverage for people who are typically seen as 'high risk' to ensure. 

The Best Life Insurance for Smokers

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 Review

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

  • Low Cost: Usually the most affordable option for couples applying together
  • Faster Approval Time: Manulife has a faster than average turnaround time. In 2017, Manulife launched an accelerated underwriting program for its term and permanent life insurance products. This means they offer fluidless medical underwriting (no blood or urine tests) for over 75% of applicants.
  • Easy Access to Policy Documents Through eDelivery: Quick delivery of your policy documents right to your inbox

Read More: Full iA Financial Life Insurance Review

If you are trying to find life insurance for smokers, Industrial Alliance may be the right company for you. On average, they priced more competitively for smokers than other life insurance companies that we compared.

Due to the health risks associated with any tobacco use, smoking puts you into a higher risk category in the eyes of your life insurer. Smoker/ tobacco rates can be up to 2x to 3x more than non-smoker/non-tobacco rates. The good news is iA tended to have the best rates for smokers in the industry.

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

Pros & Cons:  As far as plans for smokers, their prices are viewed as excellent! However, there are only paper policies available (versus receiving your policy online). It means more paper to keep track of.

Other Options for Life Insurance for Smokers

ivari Life Review

ivari offers a range of life insurance products, both based on coverage and terms available. They offer plans with 10, 20, or 30 year terms as well as a handful of extra coverage options (these come at an additional cost). With so many options, it's easy to customize your plan and meet your needs, even if you are a smoker.

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

Pros & Cons: Compared to other insurers, the price tends to be a little higher. There is also a lack of flexibility with ivari, as you do not get to choose your term. For some, this pay be a pro since it will take some of the guesswork out of choosing!

Foresters Life Insurance Review

While Foresters Life Insurance offers multiple coverage terms, one big benefit of them is the unique community they also offer - The premiums they provide are guaranteed once you sign and they only increase if you choose to renew your term at the end of it. You can also convert to permanent whole life coverage if you choose, without the stress of having to provide additional evidence of insurability.

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

Pros & Cons: 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.

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.