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Sun Life Review

Monday, September 20th

2021 Canadian Life Insurance Reviews

Sun Life Review 3 Star Rating

Sun Life

3 Star Rating
  • "A+" rated by the BBB
  • More than 150 years in business
  • Simple three-step application process
  • Term, simplified term, and guaranteed life insurance policies available
  • Temporary coverage for up to 90 days while waiting for approval

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.

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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.

Where Can Canadians Find the Best Life Insurance Policies?

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.

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Canadian Life Insurance FAQ

In Canada there are two main types of life insurance: term and permanent (also known as whole life). Term policies last for a specified time period, usually 10, 20 or 30 years. The premiums are usually lower, partially because the policy has no cash value if you cancel before you die. Permanent policies generally have higher premiums but last until you pass away, and there's a cash value if cancelled prior to death.
While many Canadians do have life insurance policies through their work, the coverage amounts have dropped considerably over the past few years. Instead of a benefit representing a year or more of the employee's salary, it's now common for the coverage to include a flat payout (e.g. $25,000). Studies show that many people in Canada are underinsured, and for that reason they turn to privately-purchased life insurance policies.
There's no one-size-fits-all answer, but you can start by looking at your current situation. Do you have a partner or dependents who would face hardships without your salary? Do you have a mortgage that would be an undue burden on your loved ones? Consider future expenses as well, like paying for a child's university costs. And, don't forget to estimate any funeral costs. Those considerations can help you decide how much coverage you'd like to have in place.
It's obvious that the higher the benefit, the higher the premiums will be. Term life insurance will usually be more affordable than whole life.
Now. The older you are when you purchase life insurance, the more you'll pay in premiums (because it's more likely you'll pass away, making you more of a financial risk to the insurer). The younger and healthier you are, the less you'll pay in premiums.
Most of the time, yes. It may require blood and/or urine tests, a doctor visit, and several weeks to be underwritten and the policy issued. There are life insurance policies designated as "no medical" or "simplified issue" ; these usually just have a few medical questions but no tests or doctors. Generally speaking, the larger benefit amounts require more in-depth medical underwriting.
Yes. You'll need "insurable interest" : in other words, your coverage has to match your life situation and the hardship your loved ones would experience if you passed away. For example, if you have an annual salary of $25,000, you wouldn't qualify for a $2 million life insurance policy. Your coverage limit will be determined by your salary, net worth, and several other factors.
Yes - to a certain extent. Depending on the insurer and policy you select, you may be able to complete the entire application process online and make your initial payment. But, most insurance policies will need to go through an approval process that includes medical underwriting, so you won't have your coverage immediately. Shopping for life insurance online is a great way to compare quotes and get an idea of what your options are - before working with an agent.
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Continued from above...

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:

  • Reputation. What do other clients have to say about their experience with the agency? Has the company been rated by the Better Business Bureau?
  • Ease of Use. How quickly can you get a quote through the agency's website? Can you find the information you're looking for? Is the site intuitive to use?
  • Selection. Does the agency have a wide range of policies to choose from? Can you get both term and permanent life insurance quotes?
  • Rates. How much will you pay for your coverage? Can the agency give you a policy with competitive premiums and terms?

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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