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If you're not fortunate enough to have coverage through your employer, you're wise to consider purchasing life insurance privately. Why? The right policy can help your beneficiaries, usually your spouse and/or dependents, to cover the costs of final arrangements, replace your salary and continue to pay the bills, or even have enough money to fund future expenses like university tuition.
Even if you have a policy through your job, are you sure you have enough coverage? Although a 2019 LIMRA study showed that nearly 13 million households in Canada had life insurance coverage - an all-time high - further research demonstrated that most policies weren't enough to pay for remaining mortgage payments at the time of death.
Monday, August 2nd
PolicyMe is an independent third-party broker, which allows them to sell life insurance products only from the companies that meet their rigorous standards. Their experts analyze many insurers with respect to products, pricing, and customer feedback in order to deliver the best value to consumers.
To see which companies PolicyMe has evaluated and how they rank, we encourage you to click on the link at the bottom of the page, "Life insurance company reviews" . For quick reference, Policy Me has selected Manulife, Wawanesa, BMO, Canada Protection Plan, and IA Financial Group as their top five insurers.
Two ways to get quotes immediately
There are two ways to get a quote for life insurance when using PolicyMe. If you're just starting your search for coverage, select "Searching for the right policy" after you click the "Get started" button (estimated time to complete: 4 minutes). Otherwise, if you've already done some research and want to jump right to getting quotes, select "Ready to apply" .
Policies up to $10 million
To get the quickest quotes for our two sample individuals, a 25-year-old woman from Dawson (YT) and a 40-year-old man from Montreal (QC), we opted for the second choice. We were initially given coverage amounts ranging from $100K to $10M, policy terms of 10 years, 20 years, or to age 65, and asked whether we wanted to cover just the individual or a partner as well.
No contact information required to get quotes
The PolicyMe quotes are immediately populated at the bottom of the page, without providing any personal contact information (which we think is a great perk). For the 25-year-old woman, we were offered three quick quotes from Manulife, BMO and Assumption Life, with premiums ranging from $8.20 to $10.17 per month for a 10-year plan with coverage of $100,000. Surprisingly, the 40-year-old man's policy wasn't much more expensive, with premiums between $12.29 and $20.16 per month for the same term length and benefit. With the man's quote, we were offered a "no medical testing" policy from Canada Protection Plan; that was the plan with the highest monthly premiums.
Big focus on term life plans
Did you notice that there were no permanent life options offered? We were never given the choice to select it, and when we searched the PolicyMe site for more information, everything we found seemed to point us in the direction of term life insurance only. Even using the chat feature on the site gave us answers from a bot that were geared towards why term policies are the superior option in every circumstance. In other words, if you want permanent life insurance coverage, you probably won't find it right away when using PolicyMe.
Extensive details on each policy and insurer
On the other hand, if you click through the "See Details" feature for each policy quote, you might be surprised: when we looked at the Manulife quote, for example, under "what's included in your policy" it said that there would be an option to convert to a permanent life plan. We also liked the details under "PolicyMe's perspective" , where we learned that the Manulife application process doesn't require blood or urine tests for more than 75% of their applicants.
Significant savings, helpful advisors
Because PolicyMe is so new, there isn't as much customer feedback to consider as you'll find with many of their rivals in the insurance industry. But, the comments that are available are extremely positive: out of more than 300 reviews, PolicyMe earned an impressive average of 4.9 out of 5 stars. Clients described the process of getting their life insurance through this service as affordable, painless, and easy to understand. Many customers made mention of the fact that they saved a significant amount of money by getting their coverage through PolicyMe instead of going directly to the insurer. And, from what we read, advisors are on hand to answer any questions you may have along the way.
Best option for life insurance in Canada
Getting life insurance coverage can feel complicated, but it doesn't have to be. PolicyMe eliminates all of the guesswork and gives you as much (or as little!) information as you want, to guide you through the decision-making and ultimately get the policy that best suits your needs. This service easily earns our highest recommendation for Canadians looking to get a life insurance policy online.
Emma is one of the newest ways to get life insurance in Canada. The company places strong emphasis on helping young families obtain the coverage they need, completely online, and in 20 minutes or less! But, anyone can use this service to buy a life insurance policy: it's not limited to parents.
No blood test or doctor visit required
To purchase life insurance through the Emma platform, you'll start by entering your email address and confirming that you live in Canada. From there, you'll be asked for basic details like your name, gender, tobacco/marijuana/drug usage, height and weight, current working situation, and family medical history. Because Emma doesn't require any lab testing or medical reports from your physician, the questions asked go a little more in depth than some online life insurance sources you might use.
Only pay for what you need
Once your eligibility has been determined, you'll be asked if you have a will, any other life insurance, marital status, number and age(s) of any children, industry in which you work, personal annual income, mortgage amount and any other debts, plus the amount currently held in savings and investments. This will be used to determine how much coverage your loved ones would need to pay off any outstanding debts plus funeral expenses. We were pleased to see that Emma only recommends what's necessary: if your investments and savings are enough to cover your debts, the platform will tell you that "it seems that you don't need additional life insurance at this time" but that "you can always purchase additional coverage for personal reasons if you wish" . Isn't that friendly? You can also specify if you'd like your beneficiaries to receive an inheritance, including that amount in your insurance quote.
In-depth medical questions
At that point, we expected to get a quote - but instead, we were taken to a section with even more health questions. These inquired about our use of prescription medications (excluding birth control, antibiotics, or NSAIDs) in the past two years, participation in high-risk activities like scuba diving or ice climbing, and any diagnoses of major disorders (e.g. stroke, kidney disease, heart problems) in the previous five years.
Not available in every province
In pricing out policies for our two sample individuals, a 25-year-old woman from Dawson (YT) and a 40-year-old man from Montreal (QC), we found that Emma is only available to residents of Alberta, British Columbia, Manitoba, New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia, Ontario, PEI, Quebec and Saskatchewan. That left our Yukon Territory "resident" out of luck when looking for life insurance.
Very affordable premiums
For our generally healthy Montreal man, our results page gave us a recommended term life policy of $350,000, with $25,000 in child life insurance (for the two children we said he had) and $10,000 in whole life insurance to cover funeral expenses. That policy was priced at $47.95/month, but if we dropped the children's coverage it brought the premium down to $36.70. Leaving out the whole life component and the child life policies, our sample customer could get $350,000 in term life for just $19.35/month. And, when we edited the coverage amount to $100,000, the monthly premium dropped to $10.44. That's extremely competitive with the other Canadian life insurance providers we evaluated.
Complete policy via live online chat
To finalize your policy, you'll be put into a chat window to ask any questions you may have and to complete the purchase of your coverage. We used that opportunity to ask the term on the quoted policy, since it wasn't explicitly stated during the application process. (It's until age 65.) It was also in this chat that we were told that the insurer behind the Emma product is Humania Assurance Inc.
Very satisfied customers
How does Emma measure up reputation-wise? Humania Assurance has been around since 1874, originally under the name Survivance. While Humania had a disappointing "D+" rating from the Better Business Bureau at the time of this review, that was for failure to respond to a single complaint. That's not overly concerning, especially when you consider that Emma itself has over 1000 five-star reviews from very happy clients. People describe the service as fast, easy, and even fun: not what you'd expect from a Canadian life insurance provider! In fact, Emma received no reviews that were lower than four stars.
Excellent life insurance for most Canadians
Although Emma has a few geographic limitations, it's a fantastic option for most Canadians. Their policies are very affordable, and the 100% online process gets you covered in a matter of minutes. For most people, Emma will be the ideal way to get life insurance in Canada.
PolicyAdvisor bills itself as "a brand new approach for an age-old industry" and seeks to blend modern technology with human expertise to make it stress-free and straightforward to buy life insurance. They've only been around for a few years, so don't be surprised if the service isn't quite as robust (yet) as the others in our review.
Limited-yet-positive customer reviews
As you'd expect, PolicyAdvisor doesn't have as much client feedback as some of the agencies in our review. We weren't able to find a listing for the company with the Better Business Bureau; however, out of nearly 300 customer reviews around the internet, PolicyAdvisor fares well with ratings averaging between 4.7 and 4.9 out of 5 stars. Customers say that the site is very user-friendly, and that the entire process is very transparent and easy to understand.
Only available in 3 provinces
The biggest downside to using PolicyAdvisor for life insurance is their limited coverage area. At the time of this review, the service was only available to residents of Ontario, Alberta and Manitoba, though the company hopes to expand to other provinces in the near future. That means we weren't able to use our comparison clients, a 25-year-old woman in Yukon Territory and a 40-year-old man in Montreal, as the basis of our sample quotes.
Instant quotes available
But, if you live in one of the three provinces within PolicyAdvisor's service area, start by clicking the bright pink "Get Instant Quote '' button. You'll be asked to specify your gender, birthdate, whether or not you smoke, your postal code and whether or not you're a Canadian resident. On the next screen, indicate whether you already know how much coverage you need or if you want help calculating your coverage needs.
Plenty of terms and coverage amounts
To get a quick quote for comparison, we chose the first option. We were impressed with how many options we were given: coverage amounts from $25,000 to $5 million, with terms anywhere from 10 years to age 65, as well as whole life insurance. For a 25-year-old non-smoker woman in Ontario, the monthly premium for a 10-year term life insurance policy with a death benefit of $100,000 was $6.75/month.
More detailed application questions than some services
Be aware that when you select the policy you want, you'll be asked more in-depth questions: height, weight, tobacco use, blood pressure and cholesterol information, driving history, family medical history and substance abuse. While PolicyAdvisor says that "if you answer a few questions" they may be able to find you an even lower rate, there's nothing optional about this part of the process.
Must create account to see quotes
When you get all the way to the end of the questions, you'll have to create a free account to compare all of your available quotes. That's a downside compared with other life insurance referral services that present you with many options right away, no account needed. We weren't even able to see which insurers might be included in our list of quotes without providing a name, email address and phone number (though we discovered that we didn't necessarily have to enter accurate information to still be taken to a quote page!).
More insurers quoted here
On our quote page, we discovered that our sample client's premium had gone up based on the health information we provided. Because our otherwise healthy 25-year-old woman had parents with a diabetes diagnosis at age 60, her premium went up to $8.73/month. On this page, we were finally able to see which insurers were offering life insurance coverage: Wawanesa, Empire Life, Canada Life, Manulife, La Capitale, Desjardins, Equitable Life of Canada, Foresters, iA Financial Group, BMO Insurance, RBC Insurance, and Assumption Life. That was a broader range of companies than we were quoted by some online brokers.
Easy to get whole life plan quotes
If you're looking for a whole life policy, be sure to look at your quote page in detail. We spotted an option somewhat hidden among the quotes asking "Want whole life coverage?" and a pink button to be taken to a new list of policies. We were pleased that we didn't have to enter any further information to get quotes, which ranged from $45.72 to $137.16 per month, again using our 25-year-old Ontario woman as our example. Many of the online life insurance providers in our review make it difficult, if not impossible, to get permanent life policy quotes: the point goes to PolicyAdvisor for making it straightforward, as promised.
Off to a great start
Speaking of promise, we think PolicyAdvisor has a lot to offer and we hope to see continued progress as they expand their service to Canadians outside of Ontario, Alberta and Manitoba. The company has already earned glowing praise from hundreds of customers, and we were impressed by the range of life insurance products available for online quotes. But, until PolicyAdvisor has a greater reach, it will still leave some Canadians looking to other life insurance providers for their coverage.
RatesDotCA has more than 20 years of experience in the Canadian insurance industry, helping millions of consumers to make good, well-informed decisions about their coverage. The company is committed to always showing you the lowest available rate based on the information you provide: they won't "stack the deck" with the insurers and policies that would best benefit their bottom line.
Most provinces covered here
RatesDotCA offers life insurance policies from several companies, including BMO, Canada Protection Plan, Empire Life, Equitable, Foresters Financial, Humania, RBC and SSQ. However, only residents of Alberta, British Columbia, Manitoba, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Ontario, Quebec and Saskatchewan can apply for coverage through this service. That means that we were unable to get a quote for one of our two sample cases, a 25-year-old woman from Dawson (YT). And, when we entered Quebec as the province of residence for our test case 40-year-old male, we got a pop-up explaining that we would be "connected with one of [RatesDotCA's] dedicated insurance partners" in that area.
Quick quotes are easy to get
So, what life insurance policies were available for our imaginary Montreal man? We were able to select policy durations ranging from 10 years to age 100, for coverage amounts between $25,000 and $5 million. On the lowest end of the scale, we got monthly estimated premiums of $8 for a 10-year term with $25,000 in coverage; on the opposite end, we were quoted an appalling $3545/month for $5 million in coverage until age 100. To compare apples-to-apples with other life insurance services in our review, we looked specifically at a 10-year term with $100,000 in coverage and got a monthly estimate of $11. When we clicked to get the actual quotes, we were given options from 15 different insurers, with premiums between $11.52 and $15 per month. It was easy to compare any of the policies that interested us, or to continue with the one we wanted to purchase. At that point, we had to enter our name, email address and phone number and wait to be contacted by a dedicated advisor, who would review our application and get it submitted.
Double-check which service you wind up with
But, remember: at this point, we were no longer getting our quote from RatesDotCA but rather from the partner referral service they gave us when we indicated a Quebec residence. You'll want to be very sure you're comfortable with that third-party company before providing your information (though we have no reason to think that there's anything suspicious or unreliable about the partners chosen by RatesDotCA).
Good reputation, confusing paper trail
In the beginning, we were confused by the reputation of this insurance broker. For example, when we clicked on the link at the bottom of the page, where RatesDotCA proudly displays their accreditation with the Better Business Bureau, the link took us to the listing for Kanetix: a Toronto-based agency with 22 years in business and an "A+" rating, but no accreditation - and no explanation as to their affiliation with RatesDotCA. By going to the Kanetix site, we found out that RatesDotCA is the rebranded name for Kanetix and RateSuperMarket together - and then found the separate listing for the new name where yes, the BBB has given both accreditation and an "A+" rating. Looks like RatesDotCA just needs to update the BBB link at the bottom of their site!
Final price may be higher than initial quote
Looking elsewhere, this agency has decent customer feedback, averaging 4.1 stars out of 5 over more than 3200 reviews. The biggest complaint comes from customers who say that their finalized quote was much higher than the initial one they got while using the site, but that's to be expected as you work through the application process. After all, if your medical exam reveals a health condition you weren't aware of (or didn't disclose), it'll cost more to insure your life. On the other hand, we found ample praise for helpful representatives, a smooth process from quote to policy issue date, and premiums that were lower than expected.
A solid option for finding life insurance
RatesDotCA has quite a few things going well: plenty of customer feedback, easy-to-use online platform, and decent pricing on life insurance policies from many insurers. As long as you're comfortable with possibly being passed off to a third-party company, RatesDotCA isn't a bad place to compare life insurance coverage in Canada.
When making a purchase as important as life insurance, it can be reassuring to go directly to an expert. Sun Life has been in business for well over a century and is one of the most trusted sources of coverage.
Efficient application process
Applying for life insurance coverage through Sun Life is much more streamlined than many of the services we evaluated - exactly because you're working with the insurer instead of gathering quotes from multiple companies. To get started, you can either choose the coverage you want and see the rate, or you can enter information about yourself and your needs and get personalized recommendations for policies that fit. Select the policy that's right for you, have your credit card or bank details on hand, and finish your application! Keep in mind that if you're applying for a term policy, you may need to have your medical information ready too.
Temporary coverage while waiting for policy approval
One feature we really appreciate when getting life insurance through Sun Life is their temporary coverage during the application process. Because your policy won't start until your application is approved - which can take some time if you have to go through medical underwriting - the company gives you up to 90 days of temporary coverage while you wait. We didn't see this offered by any other insurance service in our review.
Higher than average premiums
You can get a quick quote by entering your date of birth, sex, nicotine usage if any, and providence of residence. When we specified the details of our two test cases, a 25-year-old woman in Yukon and a 40-year-old man in Quebec, we were surprised to see how expensive the monthly premiums were. The lowest coverage amount was $50,000, and for a 10-year simplified term life insurance policy the monthly premium for the woman was $9.27. Compared with many of Sun Life's rivals, that's twice the premium for a lower benefit amount.
More limited options for terms and benefits
And, that was the only option we were given at that coverage amount. At a benefit level of $100,000, we could choose among a 10-year simplified term or term life insurance policy, or a 20-year term life plan. We weren't offered any guaranteed life insurance plans at any coverage amount or length of time we selected.
Add-on coverage available
Sun Life also gives options for secondary coverage once you select a life insurance plan. We were offered critical illness insurance with varying benefits and coverage amounts: $25,000 to cover just cancer or cancer, heart attack and stroke; or, $50,000 to cover all of those illnesses plus heart surgery, major organ transplant, or major organ failure and on a waiting list for transplant. The highest level was priced at an extra $26.78/month for our 25-year-old Yukon woman, and an additional $5000 in coverage for a dependent could be attached for an extra $3 per month. There was also an option for accidental death insurance at various benefit levels.
Extra steps for Quebecois
For residents of Quebec, we were told that provincial regulations required answering additional questions. This included details about our after-tax income and pay frequency, approximate savings and investments, monthly living expenses, and anticipated future expenses. This questionnaire was much longer than most of the quote processes we experienced with other services. At the end, we were given a recommended life insurance amount which was higher than what Sun Life offers online, but we could speak with an advisor to apply for the level of coverage we wanted. We were given a quote for a $100,000 policy for a 10-year term, with a monthly premium of $136.74. That, too, was much higher than most of the policies we were quoted elsewhere - but bear in mind that the questionnaire was much more in-depth with Sun Life, and it's possible that our final quote would have been higher with other insurance brokers once the application was finalized.
Problems with quote features
Unfortunately, when we went to choose a smaller coverage amount - our 40-year-old male from Montreal could get a policy with a benefit as small as $5000 - we got a page error. We couldn't get back to the original quote even when reloading the page; we would have had to resubmit all of our information, including the lengthy extra questions for residents of Quebec, to return to the quote. That was a big disappointment.
Reliable company, frustrating website
Sun Life has an excellent reputation spanning well over a century, having protected millions of individuals and provided benefits through thousands of companies across Canada. But, because of the much higher premium amounts and the issues we had with using the website while gathering quotes, this insurer winds up towards the middle of our rankings.
Arbetov Insurance has been around since 2007 and is an independent agency based in Vancouver, BC. While their specialty is health and travel insurance, this service also offers life insurance policies to residents of all provinces except Quebec, Newfoundland and Labrador.
BBB gives company an "A+"
Despite having a website with a slightly less professional look (with a few typos and other issues), Arbetov Insurance has a good reputation. The Better Business Bureau gives the company their highest rating, with only one complaint filed in the last three years. We also found a small number of positive reviews throughout the internet, though none of them were related to life insurance. It's easy to see that this coverage isn't Arbetov's bread-and-butter product, compared with travel insurance.
Basic life insurance info
The Arbetov Insurance site also has some good, basic information about life insurance coverage. If you have questions about different insurance types, how much coverage you need, or the overall steps of getting a policy, you'll find that here.
No response to online customer service chat
Unfortunately, we had a very hard time getting a hold of anyone using Arbetov Insurance's provided online tools. Even though the online chat system said that agents were online and we made the attempt during their posted business hours, we got no response - neither through the direct chat on the site nor by using the "login with Facebook'' option. Considering that they only offer life insurance quotes by connecting with an agent, Arbetov should be paying more attention to the channels they offer to prospective customers. You might have better luck by calling them directly or requesting a callback, but it's easy to see how this lacks the convenience of many rival services that provide instant quotes online with just a few pieces of information.
Better options elsewhere
While Arbetov Insurance strikes us as a decent, reputable company overall, they don't have much to praise when it comes to getting life insurance policies quickly and easily. With no ability to get a quote online and no response from their online chat contact system, Arbetov comes up very short when you look at rival services. If you like the idea of working over the phone with a smaller agency, you might want to give Arbetov Insurance a call. On the other hand, if you like the efficiency and relative anonymity of getting quotes online from multiple companies at once, you'll need to choose a different life insurance service.
Insurance Hotline got its start in 1994 as a way of helping Canadians get the best rates on insurance by comparing policies from multiple companies - something that sounds commonplace now but was very novel almost 30 years ago. Millions of people nationwide have used this service to save money on insurance, though primarily for auto and homeowners' policies.
Good info, but broken links
There's a good amount of information about life insurance featured on the Insurance Hotline site. If you're just starting your research and want to know more about different types of life insurance policies in Canada, whether you should buy a policy for your children, or many other topics, be sure to scroll down through everything IH has to teach you. You'll find links to further articles on the IH blog as well. Unfortunately, one of the links was broken: it said to get life insurance specifically in Ontario, we would need to go to IH's province-specific page, but clicking the link didn't take us anywhere.
Same company as RatesDotCA
Be aware that Insurance Hotline is part of the RatesDotCA brand family, another service in our review. That means you may find some similarities between the two sites as you shop for life insurance. We actually found the Insurance Hotline site harder to use, largely because RatesDotCA makes it obvious where they operate (and where they don't), while the IH service requires you to enter your postal code - and then find out if they service your area.
Not available for residents of all provinces
When we entered the postal code for our 25-year-old female test case, Insurance Hotline indicated that they don't offer policies in Yukon Territory. Short of entering a postal code in each of Canada's 10 provinces, there was no way to know where IH offers life insurance policies. You could probably use their sister company's list as a rule of thumb - RatesDotCA issues policies to residents of Alberta, British Columbia, Manitoba, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia Ontario, Quebec and Saskatchewan - but that's no guarantee, just our best guess since IH doesn't give you that information directly.
Redirected to a third-party insurance company
When we entered a postal code for our fictitious Montreal man, Insurance Hotline redirected us to a third-party insurance broker. In fact, we only succeeded in getting a quote for life insurance when we used a postal code for Ontario. We had to indicate whether we wanted coverage for a single person or couple; enter our birthdate, gender, tobacco usage, desired term amount and coverage; then, provide an email address. We were only given options for term life policies of 10, 20, 30 and to age 100, with coverage amounts ranging from $50,000 to $2 million.
Impossible to get a life insurance quote
So, how much would our Ontario resident pay for life insurance? Great question. When we clicked to submit our information, the "please wait" notification kept spinning for almost a minute, and then we got an internal server error message. Insurance Hotline just doesn't seem to want to quote life insurance policies to anyone, whether or not they live in their coverage area.
Good rating, no complaints at BBB
Inexplicably, Insurance Hotline has a fantastic reputation. The company has been in business for more than 25 years and enjoys both an "A+" rating and accreditation from the Better Business Bureau. We were particularly impressed to see that Insurance Hotline had zero registered complaints with the BBB.
No customers = no complaints?
Of course, having gone through the process of trying to get a quote and coming up empty-handed, we wonder if there are no complaints because there aren't actually any customers! There's no need to leave a negative review if you never got a policy in the first place, right?
Don't waste your time here
Simply put, there's no reason to try and use Insurance Hotline to obtain a quote for your life insurance policy - because all you'll get is wasted time. Your better option is to use one of the higher-ranked insurance sites in our review, to get an accurate quote quickly and without any hassles.
In other words, many Canadians have life insurance but are still underinsured. For that reason, some consumers choose to purchase individual policies even though they have a group plan through their work.
How much life insurance do you need? That depends on many factors, such as your annual income, your number of dependents, your debts and your anticipated funeral expenses. But, before you decide to buy millions of dollars in coverage, you should be aware that there's a limit to the amount of insurance you can have. Known as "insurable interest" , your coverage has to match your net worth and your income: you can't buy a policy for $10 million if your net worth is $100,000 and your salary is $75,000 a year.
Plus, you'll need to evaluate how much insurance you can afford. The bigger the policy, the higher the premiums - and the older you are at the time you initiate the coverage, the more you'll pay as well. Your premiums will also be affected by the type of life insurance you choose, and in Canada there are typically only two types: term insurance, which is usually less costly but will only insure you for a predetermined number of years, and permanent life insurance, which lasts for as long as you live and often has a cash value against which you can borrow but with higher premiums to match.
Reaching out to an insurance agency online makes it easy to find out what policies are available to you, how much coverage you can get, and how much you can expect to pay in premiums. You will likely need a medical exam before your policy goes into effect, but starting the process online is a great way to get the ball rolling.
As you shop for life insurance, how can you tell which provider is the right choice? Here are several criteria to keep in mind, to guide your decision-making:
TopConsumerReviews.com has reviewed and ranked the best sources of life insurance policies in Canada. We hope this information helps you find the right coverage, to give you the peace of mind that comes from knowing your loved ones are taken care of in the event of your passing.
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