Matt Hands, VP, Insurance and MoneySense
While the choice of a life insurance company may not seem as pivotal as other financial decisions, it still holds significance – especially in ensuring that your coverage is tailored to your specific needs. For example, while most Canadians may be seeking a basic term life insurance policy, you may be looking for an insurer that will provide affordable permanent coverage, even with your pre-existing condition.
That's why no one provider can be crowned as the best life insurance company in Canada – this will differ on a case-to-case basis. Beyond the name of an insurer, the key lies in finding a product that aligns with your specific requirements. We've built this page to help you gain an understanding of all the different options top life insurance companies have to offer you.
When you're ready, you can also compare personalized life insurance quotes from these providers with us, all in one instance. We'll also connect you with a licensed broker in Canada who can guide you through the process of finding you your perfect match. Keep in mind, however, that some of the products on this page may only be available for direct purchase through the insurer.
Before we dive into what each individual life insurer has to offer, here are some key numbers we found from The Canadian Life and Health Insurance Association's factbook – while the report was released in 2023, all data is representative of the previous year, providing an industry outlook for 2022.
- 77 companies
offer life insurance
Over 150 life and health insurers operate in Canada – 77 offer life insurance, 128 offer health insurance, and 37 offer retirement solutions.
- $27.6 billion
in premium revenues
While Canadian life and health insurers collected a total of $145 billion in premium revenues in 2022, 19% of this came from the life sector alone.
- $16.1 billion
in benefits paid out
In 2022, life insurers in Canada paid out $16.1 billion in benefits – including $9.4 billion in death benefits and $6.7 billion in living benefits.
Founded in 1865, Sun Life is one of Canada's largest, oldest, and most trusted financial institutions. While the business first started off with insurance sales, the provider has since expanded its offerings into wealth solutions and health programs. Today, Sun Life is an industry leader, offering services to millions of people and thousands of firms within the country. The company also has a strong international arm, with operations in over a dozen other countries worldwide.
Sun Life term life insurance options
Sun Life permanent life insurance options
Other types of insurance from Sun Life
Sun Life has one of the deepest product lineups in Canada, offering a broad selection of group and personal insurance products (health, dental, disability, critical illness, long-term care), along with travel insurance.
Founded over 130 years ago in 1887, Manulife is another one of Canada's leading financial services groups. Aside from insurance options, the company also provides financial advice, along with wealth and asset management solutions, for individuals, groups, and institutions. Manulife currently assists over 30 million customers while managing $50 million in claims each year – with major operations in both Canada and Asia. The company prides itself on a history of innovation, from being the first provider in North America to insure diabetics to launching AI underwriting solutions in Canada.
Manulife term life insurance options
Manulife permanent life insurance options
Other types of insurance from Manulife
Manulife offers a broad range of group and personal insurance products (health, dental, disability, critical illness), as well as travel insurance and mortgage protection insurance.
In 2020, The Canada Life Assurance Company, The Great-West Life Assurance Company, London Life Insurance Company, and two holding companies amalgamated to become one, all under the Canada Life brand. Its roots, however, go all the way back to the company's establishment in 1847 – when it became the country's first domestic life insurance provider. As a leader in financial services today, the company has relationships with about 12 million customers, focusing on improving the financial, physical, and mental well-being of Canadians coast to coast.
Canada Life term life insurance options
Canada Life permanent life insurance options
Other types of insurance from Canada Life
Other coverage options from Canada Life include disability insurance, critical illness insurance, health and dental insurance, creditor insurance, and group benefits.
Founded in 1892, iA Financial Group (also known as Industry Alliance) is one of the biggest insurance and wealth management firms in the country, operating with four lines of business – individual insurance, individual wealth management, group insurance, and group savings and retirement. The company's fifth line of business comprises its operations in the United States. In total, iA Financial Group currently services over 4 million clients.
iA Financial Group term life insurance options
iA Financial Group permanent life insurance options
Other types of insurance from iA Financial Group
iA offers a broad range of group and personal coverage options, including health insurance for disability, critical illness, and accident. The provider also issues policies for mortgage insurance, travel insurance, and P&C insurance needs – including auto and home.
Founded in 1900, Desjardins is the leading financial cooperative in North America while being the financial institution with the largest presence in Quebec. Its business sectors include personal and commercial services, wealth management and life and health insurance, as well as property and casualty insurance, servicing about 7.5 million members and clients in total.
Desjardins term life insurance options
Desjardins permanent life insurance options
Other types of insurance from Desjardins
Desjardins offers a variety of health insurance products (healthcare, disability, critical illness, long-term care, accident), along with P&C insurance, credit insurance, and travel insurance – while also offering coverage for business and group needs.
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As a subsidiary of Bank of Montreal – one of Canada's big five banks – BMO Insurance is founded on a legacy, dating all the way back to 1817. After purchasing AIG's Canadian arm in 2009, the firm strengthened its position as one of the largest bank-owned life insurance providers in the country.
BMO Insurance term life insurance options
BMO Insurance permanent life insurance options
Other types of insurance from BMO Insurance
Aside from life insurance, BMO Insurance also offers coverage for critical illness and travel.
Founded in 1864, Royal Bank of Canada (RBC) is Canada's largest bank by market capitalization – as well as Canada's largest company overall by market capitalization. The firm offers various insurance products through its entity, RBC Insurance, which services nearly 5 million clients across the globe. The provider's term life insurance options are particularly notable, being some of the most flexible plans available in Canada.
RBC Insurance term life insurance options
RBC Insurance permanent life insurance options
Other types of insurance from RBC Insurance
Along with group benefits and personal coverages (disability, critical illness, hospital, accident), the insurer also offers a wide array of P&C products, travel insurance, and business insurance.
Founded a century ago in 1923, The Empire Life Insurance Company – otherwise known as Empire Life – is a prominent financial services provider in Canada, offering a diverse range of insurance products, investment solutions, and employee benefits. The company prides itself on various aspects, citing integrity, personalized service, and industry-leading technology, among its many differentiators.
Empire Life term life insurance options
Empire Life permanent life insurance options
Other types of insurance from Empire Life
Along with critical illness and disability insurance, Empire Life also offers a wide array of group benefits.
Originally founded as The Ontario Equitable Life and Accident Insurance Company in 1920, the company later changed its name to The Equitable Life Insurance Company of Canada in 1936, representing its product offerings from coast to coast. The firm prides itself on being a mutual company, meaning the insurer is owned by its participating policyholders, instead of public shareholders.
Equitable Life term life insurance options
Equitable Life permanent life insurance options
Other types of insurance from Equitable Life
Equitable Life also offers critical illness coverage as an individual insurance product, plus a variety of options for group benefits.
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Below is a table outlining the key metrics of Canada's top life insurance companies, including each one's financial strength rating and annual written premiums. The rating is based on the most recent score from A.M. Best, and insurers that are labelled as not rated have not been given a score to date. Keep in mind that this is only representative of one credit agency's rating, and there are several other agencies that score insurance companies in Canada. The numbers for annual written premiums, on the other hand, are based on public financial data from each insurer within 2022.
What is the best life insurance company in Canada?
The best life insurance company for you will be dependent on your own circumstances – each provider will offer different coverage options, as well as different rates. So if you're in need of a guaranteed no-medical exam policy due to a pre-existing condition, your best option will likely be different than a healthy individual looking for basic coverage. To find out which one suits you best, be sure to compare the top life insurance companies in Canada with us today.
What is the cheapest life insurance company in Canada?
Each life insurance company has its own underwriting and quoting process, so you won't know which one offers the cheapest policy until you shop the market. So be sure to compare life insurance quotes with us today – we'll show you premiums from Canada's top life insurance companies all at once, so you’ll be able to select the lowest-cost option that best suits your needs.
For more details on securing cheap life insurance, read our blog here: How to save money on life insurance in Canada.
How are life insurance companies regulated in Canada?
In Canada, the regulation of life insurance companies is a shared responsibility between federal and provincial bodies. The Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions (OSFI) is the country's federal regulator while provincial regulators will differ based on jurisdiction. For instance, the Financial Services Regulatory Authority of Ontario (FRSA) takes part in overseeing life insurance companies within Ontario, ensuring compliance with the province's laws.
How do life insurance companies make money?
There are a few ways life insurance companies make money, with a main one being its underwriting process. While life insurance companies do need to pay out death benefits, a proper underwriting process can help ensure the amount paid out does not exceed the money a company brings in. And aside from the premiums you pay, fund investments and policy fees also contribute to the revenue of a life insurance company.
For more details on this topic, be sure to read our blog on this topic: How life insurance companies make money in Canada.