Nearly 22 million Canadians owned some form of life insurance in 2014, according to industry figures. In the same year, 97 independent life insurers competed in the Canadian market, including domestic and foreign companies. In total, these insurers reported premium income amounting to about $13.7 billion for the year. About $8.3 billion of that total, or more than 60%, was captured by the six biggest life insurers in the market. These top insurers are all diversified financial services companies offering their customers much more than life insurance. This list introduces each of these top companies, with notes on market position and product offerings.

Manulife Financial

Manulife Financial is Canada's biggest life insurance company as measured by revenue, but it is the second biggest as measured by domestic life insurance premiums. The company reported consolidated revenue of $40.4 billion in 2014, placing it among Canada's 10 biggest companies in any industry. It also reported $2.2 billion in life insurance premium income in the Canadian market. In addition to the Canadian premiums, Manulife's American subsidiary, John Hancock, reported written life insurance premiums of more than $4.7 billion in the United States.

Alongside an array of life and health insurance products, Manulife offers group benefits and retirement plans, investment products and wealth management services. Manulife Bank is a federally regulated bank serving customers in every Canadian province and territory. Manulife also operates a global real estate business and a global reinsurance business. The company has substantial business operations across North America and Asia.

In 2015, Manulife completed the acquisition of The Standard Life Assurance Company of Canada, adding 1.4 million additional customers and mutual fund and pension assets totaling nearly $20.5 billion. The company also announced the purchase of New York Life's American retirement services division, which will add another $50 billion in pension assets once the transaction is complete.

Great-West Lifeco, Inc.

Great-West Lifeco, Inc. (TSX: GWO.TO) is an international financial services giant headquartered in Canada. The company had consolidated revenue of $29.7 billion in 2014. It reported premium income on Canadian life insurance policies of $2.7 billion, the most of any company in the country. Great-West Lifeco's wholly owned subsidiary in the U.S., Great-West Life and Annuity Insurance Company, reported additional written life insurance premiums amounting to just under $1.5 billion on U.S. policies.

Great-West Lifeco operates as a holding company for six subsidiary companies that market insurance and financial services products in North America, Europe and Asia. In the insurance area, Great-West Lifeco subsidiaries offer a wide variety of life and health insurance policy options, including general health, disability and critical illness insurance products. Other major business areas include investment services, savings and retirement income products, pension plans, wealth protection and management services. Great-West Lifeco subsidiaries also participate in international reinsurance markets.

Sun Life Financial

Sun Life Financial, Inc. (NYSE: SLF) ranks as the third-biggest life insurance company in Canada, reporting consolidated revenue of $19.5 billion and Canadian life insurance premium income of $1.7 billion in 2014. The company's U.S. subsidiary reported additional written life insurance premiums amounting to more than $1.1 billion in the American market.

Sun Life Financial is a global financial services company with substantial operations in North America, Ireland and the United Kingdom, and valuable businesses in India, China, the Philippines and more than a dozen other countries. Its products are also available through independent agents in countries around the world. In addition to life insurance, Sun Life Financial offers health, dental and disability insurance, investment and retirement savings products, and financial planning services. The company has 37 million customers and nearly 28,000 employees working at dozens of subsidiary and joint-venture companies worldwide.

IA Financial Group

In contrast to the international giants that make up the top three spots on this list, Industrial Alliance Insurance and Financial Services, Inc. (TSX: IAG.TO), which operates under the IA Financial Group brand, conducts about 97% of its business in Canada. It reported consolidated revenue of $7.3 billion and $940 million in life insurance premium income in the Canadian market in 2014. The company's U.S. subsidiary, IA American Life Insurance Company, reported about $151 million of written life insurance premiums in the U.S. market.

IA Financial Group offers a variety of insurance products and financial services to customers across Canada. In contrast to its larger competitors, IA Financial Group offers property and casualty insurance, in addition to life and health insurance products. It markets savings and investment products, group pension plans and financial planning services. The company also operates a lending arm offering mortgages and other types of loans.

RBC Insurance

RBC Insurance is a wholly owned subsidiary of the Royal Bank of Canada (NYSE: RY). The company reported $457 million in Canadian life insurance premium income and total revenue of $3.76 billion in 2014. Its parent company is Canada's biggest bank and one of the largest banks in the world, with about $25.8 billion in consolidated revenue in 2014 and a market capitalization of about $75.5 billion.

RBC Insurance offers a wide array of domestic insurance products, including many types of life and health policies, as well as home and auto policies and travel insurance options. Wealth management products, such as annuities and segregated funds products, are available to meet retirement planning needs. The company also offers credit protection plans for eligible mortgages, loans and credit card balances held with the Royal Bank of Canada. Additionally, RBC Insurance operates a global reinsurance business offering annuity, accident, and life and health reinsurance products.

Empire Life

Empire Life Insurance is a subsidiary of the publicly listed holding company, E-L Financial Corp. Ltd. (TSX: ELF.TO). Empire Life reported consolidated revenue of $1.46 billion in 2014. Life insurance premium income amounted to $300 million. The company does not have any substantial international business operations.

The Empire Life product mix includes three main categories: individual insurance products, group benefit plans and wealth management products. The company offers a full selection of life insurance options, in addition to critical illness insurance. Group benefit plans provide flexible options to meet the health care needs of small and medium-size businesses and their employees. Wealth management products include mutual funds, annuities, segregated funds and savings plans.

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