Best Whole Life Insurance in Canada (Updated!)

Peer reviewed by
Erik Heidebrecht
,
Certified Life Insurance Advisor

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In This Article

lKey takeaways

  • Whole life insurance also known as permanent life insurance is the best option for Canadians with higher incomes and want permanent coverage with guaranteed cash value.
  • The best whole life insurance in Canada is from Sun Life, Manulife, Equitable Life, Canada Protection Plan and BMO Insurance based on policy types and customer reviews.
  • Canadians looking for life insurance that’s more affordable and flexible life insurance should consider term insurance instead.

What is whole life insurance?

Are you considering permanent life insurance with a built-in savings plan? Whole life insurance might be the ideal solution for you. This unique option provides guaranteed coverage throughout your lifetime, ensuring your loved ones receive a financial safety net upon your passing. Beyond protection, a portion of your premium contributes to a cash value account, which grows steadily over time. This feature offers valuable flexibility, allowing you to access funds for emergencies, future needs, or investments while enjoying lifelong peace of mind. Explore the benefits of whole life insurance with the best life insurance companies, providing comprehensive insurance coverage and financial security. Consult with a financial advisor or insurance broker to understand the pros and cons of whole life insurance and how it fits into your financial plan.

Best whole life insurance policies in Canada

The best whole life insurance policies in Canada are from Sun Life, Manulife, Equitable Life, Canada Protection Plan and BMO Insurance. 

We looked at each insurance company’s whole life coverage options, cash values and dividends and customer reviews.

Then we categorized them based on which situations they’d be best for Canadians.

  1. Best cash value with whole life insurance: Sun Life
  2. Best whole life insurance for couples: Manulife
  3. Best whole life insurance with guaranteed premiums and high cash value: Equitable Life
  4. Best no-medical whole life insurance: Canada Protection Plan
  5. Best whole life insurance with flexibility: BMO Insurance

1. Sun Life: best cash value with whole life insurance

Insureye score: ★★☆☆☆ (2.3)

Sun Life has some of the best options for cash value with whole life insurance. They have three types of participating life insurance policies to choose from, which we'll break down below.

Pros of Sun Life

  • Sun Life has a lot of experience with whole life insurance policies and policies with investments
  • Lots of options for riders to add to your policy, but these are an additional insurance cost on top of your monthly premiums
  • A good option for people with high incomes
  • Most of their whole life policies offers a joint first-to-die policy for couples

‍Cons of Sun Life

  • Client reviews suggest that they have poor customer service
  • There isn’t a lot of information about their policies available online
  • Their cost of insurance premiums tends to be more than other whole life insurance providers

‍Sun Life's whole life insurance policies

Sun Par Protector II

  • This is best if you want whole life insurance with the chance to grow cash value and your death benefit long-term
  • Coverage amount: $25 thousand to $15 million
  • Premiums fluctuate
  • Payment options: 10 pay, 20 pay, life pay
  • Dividend options: paid-up additional insurance, enhanced insurance, annual premium reduction, dividends on deposit, cash payment

Sun Par Accumulator II

  • This is best if you want whole life insurance with cash value growth within a shorter term
  • Coverage amount: $250 thousand to $15 million
  • Premiums fluctuate
  • Payment options: 10 pay, 20 pay, life pay
  • Dividend options: paid-up additional insurance, enhanced insurance, annual premium reduction, dividends on deposit, cash payment

Sun Par Accelerator

  • This is best if you want whole life insurance and can afford to pay off the plan in eight years. It also gives you cash value growth and death benefit growth
  • Coverage amount: $250 thousand to $15 million
  • Premiums fluctuate
  • Payment options: 8 pay
  • Enhanced dividend options

Not sure how whole life insurance compares to term life insurance? Generally, whole life insurance rates can be up to 10x pricier than term life insurance.

And PolicyMe offers some of the best term life insurance rates in Canada. See just how affordable term life insurance can be — get your quote in just a few clicks, no obligation required.

2. Manulife: best whole life insurance for couples

Insureye score: ★★☆☆☆ (2.1)

Manulife has some of the best permanent life insurance for couples. They have two whole life insurance options for Canadians: 

  1. Manulife Par whole life insurance
  2. Performax Gold® whole life insurance

Pros of Manulife

  • Highly experienced with participating whole life insurance policies
  • It’s also the biggest insurance company in Canada in terms of market capital (over $43 billion) according to the Toronto Star
  • Save money if you and your partner both buy policies with the same coverage and length
  • You can see a sample policy for their different life insurance products online

Cons of Manulife

  • Online customer complaints suggest they have bad customer service
  • Customers have also had trouble with cancellations and long waiting times
  • Only two options for whole life insurance

‍Manulife's whole life insurance policies

We’ve outlined the key features of both Manulife options in the table below.

Policy feature Performax Gold® whole life insurance Manulife Par whole life insurance
Coverage period Lifelong Lifelong
Coverage amount Minimum $25 thousand Minimum $100 thousand
Stability of premiums Not stated on website Premiums are level
Cost of premiums 5–10x more expensive than most term life policies 5–10x more expensive than most term life policies
Payment options Life pay or 15 pay 20 pay or 10 pay
Death benefit Paid whenever you pass away Paid whenever you pass away
# of people covered One Up to two
Cash value Guaranteed cash value Option to withdraw dividends on an annual basis
Policy type Non-participating Participating

3. Equitable Life: best whole life insurance with guaranteed premiums and high cash value

Insureye score: ★★★☆☆ (2.5)

Equitable Life has the best whole life insurance with guaranteed premiums and high cash value. They have two participating whole life insurance options for Canadians: 

  1. Equimax Estate Builder
  2. Equimax Wealth Accumulator

Pros of Equitable Life

  • They offer competitive cash values
  • You can add critical illness insurance as well as your children or grandchildren to your policy. But both add-ons will make your premiums more expensive
  • Access your policy and account online

Cons of Equitable Life

  • They don’t have much information on their website about their policies
  • Online reviews suggest that they have a poor customer service
  • Premiums are mid-range compared to other companies

‍Equitable Life's whole life insurance policies

Here's what you need to know about both Equitable Life whole life insurance policy options:

Policy feature Equimax Estate Builder Equimax Wealth Accumulator
Coverage period Lifelong Lifelong
Coverage amount $11 thousand to $20 million $11 thousand to $20 million
Stability of premiums Premiums are level Premiums are level
Cost of premiums 5–10x more expensive than most term life policies 5–10x more expensive than most term life policies
Payment options Life pay, 20 pay or 10 pay Life pay or 20 pay
Death benefit Paid whenever you pass away Paid whenever you pass away
# of people covered Up to two Up to two
Cash value Guaranteed cash value with 5 dividend options Guaranteed cash value with 5 dividend options
Policy type Participating Participating
Best for you if You want high cash value in the long term You want cash value in the short term

4. Canada Protection Plan: best no medical whole life insurance

Google Reviews score: ★★★★☆ (4.0)

Canada Protection Plan has the best no medical whole life insurance. They have four no medical, non-participating whole life insurance options for Canadians.

Pros of Canada Protection Plan

  • Regardless of health conditions, you can qualify for a life insurance policy
  • Online reviews show customers have had positive experiences with Canada Protection Plan's advisors
  • A quick turnaround to find out if you’re approved (sometimes within a day!)

Cons of Canada Protection Plan

  • No medical life insurance policies tend to be expensive because all applicants, even if they have good health, are assessed as high-risk
  • The maximum coverage amount is $500 thousand depending on your age
  • Some plans offer lower coverage ranges for people aged 61–80

Canada Protection Plan's whole life insurance policies

Guaranteed Acceptance Life

  • Best for: People with health conditions or critical illnesses who can’t get life insurance elsewhere, people with high-risk hobbies or jobs, people who smoke or have a history of substance abuse
  • Coverage: $5 thousand to $50 thousand
  • Included: Terminal illness benefit and transportation benefit 
  • Optional: Accidental death benefit

Deferred Life

  • Best for: People with serious health conditions, including a heart condition, cancer or diabetes. And people who’ve been declined permanent insurance before
  • Coverage: $5 thousand to $75 thousand
  • Included: Terminal illness benefit and transportation benefit 
  • Optional: Accidental death benefit

Deferred Elite Life

  • Best for: People with less serious health conditions, including a heart condition, cancer or diabetes. And people who’ve been declined permanent insurance before and who want a high amount of coverage
  • Coverage: $5 thousand to $350 thousand
  • Included: Terminal illness benefit and transportation benefit 
  • Optional: Accidental death benefit and child term benefit

Simplified Elite Life

  • Best for: People with relatively good health and people who engage in extreme sports who want a high account of coverage 
  • Coverage: $5 thousand to $500 thousand
  • Included: Terminal illness benefit and transportation benefit 
  • Optional: Accidental death benefit, child term benefit, hospital cash benefit

5. BMO Insurance: best whole life insurance policy in Canada with flexibility

Insureye score: ★★★☆☆ (2.6)

BMO Insurance has the most flexible whole life insurance in Canada. They have two whole life insurance options for Canadians: 

  1. BMO Estate Protector
  2. BMO Wealth Accelerator

Pros of BMO Insurance

  • Their whole life insurance policies are highly flexible with premium payments
  • Comfort and security in buying from one of the oldest banks in Canada
  • Financial strength rating: A.

Cons of BMO Insurance

  • You have to apply for life insurance through a BMO advisor over the phone
  • Online reviews indicate they have poor customer service
  • You can’t access your policy online so expect lots of paperwork

‍BMO Insurance's whole life insurance policies

We’ve outlined other key features of BMO’s permanent life insurance options in the table below. Although the features are the same, the policies differ in how they address distinct markets.

Policy feature BMO Estate Protector BMO Wealth Accelerator
Coverage period Lifelong Lifelong
Coverage amount $50 thousand to $20 million $50 thousand to $20 million
Stability of premiums Premiums are level Premiums are level
Cost of premiums 5–10x more expensive than most term life policies 5–10x more expensive than most term life policies
Payment options Life pay, 20 pay or 10 pay Life pay, 20 pay or 10 pay
Death benefit Paid whenever you pass away Paid whenever you pass away
# of people covered One One
Cash value Guaranteed cash value with performance bonus Guaranteed cash value with performance bonus
Policy type Non-participating Non-participating

How do I find the best whole life insurance rates in Canada?

To find the best whole life insurance rates in Canada, shop around and get quotes from different life insurance companies. Make sure to keep in mind that not all whole life insurance policies have level premiums or the same amount of cash value.

Many companies don’t offer online quotes for whole life insurance. So you’ll likely have to book phone appointments with insurance agents from each life insurance company to get a quote. And ask if and how premiums are flexible.

Finding the best life insurance policy: advisor pro tips

On how to decide what the best whole life policy for you is, life insurance advisor Erik Heidebrecht has this advice "Get very clear about what you're looking for in a whole life policy. Ask yourself:

  • Why do you want a whole life insurance policy? For investments? For estate planning?
  • What coverage amount do you want? The more coverage you need, the pricier the premiums.
  • Do you want the policy to be plug-and-play or do you want to tinker with your investment options?
  • Does the whole life insurance company have high MERs? Make sure to cross-check with the market with how much those funds would be to track separately.
  • Do they use investment options that are in your best interest? Do they fund index funds? ETFs?"

The best life insurance Canada has to offer for you depends on your unique situation and needs.

Next steps: best whole life insurance Canada

  1. Ask yourself why you need whole life insurance. For investments? Estate planning? Read more about the differences between term life vs. whole life insurance to help you decide if permanent life insurance is the right product for you.
  2. Find out how much insurance coverage you need with our life insurance calculator
  3. Interested in optional riders? Research which ones you want and how much they’ll cost.
  4. Shop around and get quotes. Remember to ask about penalties that affect premiums, such as smoking or high-risk hobbies.
  5. Consider your options. Which life insurance companies offer the best value for your needs?
  6. Apply for the policy you want. If you’re denied, try your other options or a no medical policy.
  7. Read your policy carefully, including all the fine print, before signing and paying for it.

FAQ: best whole life insurance companies Canada

What is the most popular whole life insurance company in Canada?

Manulife is the most popular whole life insurance company in Canada because it’s one of the largest life insurance companies in the country. 

But they don’t have the best or most affordable options, when compared to other Canadian life insurance companies like Sun Life for whole policies or PolicyMe for term insurance policies.

What distinguishes whole life insurance from term life insurance?

Whole offers lifelong coverage and builds cash value, while term life provides temporary coverage at lower premiums but without a savings component. Learn more about the key differences in our term vs. whole life insurance guide.

How do I choose the right whole life insurance policy for my needs?

Choosing the right permanent life insurance policy depends on your individual needs and goals. Consider factors like:

  • Desired death benefit to leave for loved ones.
  • Budget for monthly premiums.
  • Importance of cash value access for future needs.
  • Desired policy features like additional riders.

What factors should I consider when comparing whole life insurance policies?

  • Death benefit: Amount paid to your beneficiaries.
  • Cash value growth rate: Interest rate earned on your savings component.
  • Premium costs: Monthly payments you make.
  • Policy features: Additional benefits like riders.
  • Financial strength of the insurer: Stability and reliability of the company.

Remember, comparing quotes from different providers is crucial.

Are there any exclusions I should be aware of in whole life policies?

Most whole life policies exclude deaths due to suicide within the first two years of the policy. Other potential exclusions might include war-related deaths, illegal activities, or pre-existing conditions not disclosed during the application process. Read the policy details carefully to understand any specific exclusions.

Can I withdraw or borrow from the cash value of my whole life insurance?

Yes, you can generally access the cash value through withdrawals or loans. However, these actions may reduce your death benefit and accrue interest or fees. Understand the terms and implications before tapping into your cash value.

What are the best dividend-paying whole life insurance companies in Canada?

The best dividend-paying whole life insurance companies in Canada are Sun Life, Manulife and Equitable Life. All three companies offer different kinds of policies with dividends; typically a permanent type of life insurance.

Remember, the best dividends is only one of many key factors in deciding what type of life insurance policy to buy. In some cases, Canadians would be better off maxing out their TSFA and RRSP before considering a whole life policy.

If you're older, permanent life insurance may not appeal to you. Take a look at life insurance for seniors.

Want to learn more about other life insurance options? Here are more reviews of Canadian life insurance companies:

Laura McKay

COO & Co-Founder
About the Author

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