About 22 million Canadians owned some form of life insurance in 2019, according to industry figures. There are approximately 160 life and health insurers competing in the Canadian market, including domestic and foreign companies.In total, these insurers reported premiums totaling $117 billion CAD per year ($82 billion USD).

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.

Key Takeaways

  • The top life insurers operating in Canada include Manulife Financial, Great-West Lifeco, Sun Life Financial, IA Financial, RBC Insurance, and Empire Life. 
  •  Manulife Financial is one of the largest players in Canada’s insurance market and the major life insurance provider. 
  • Together, the insurers in Canada collect $117 billion a year in premiums. 

Manulife Financial

Manulife Financial is Canada's largest insurance company as measured by revenue, generating $61.4 billion in 2019. It reported $5.6 billion in core earnings for its Canadian market in 2018. In addition to the Canadian premiums, Manulife's American subsidiary, John Hancock, generated core earnings of $462 million USD in the U.S. in 2019.

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.

Great-West Lifeco, Inc.

Great-West Lifeco, Inc. is an international financial services giant headquartered in Canada. 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. (SLF) ranks as a major life insurance company in Canada, reporting $30 billion in net income in 2019. 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. 

IA Financial Group

In contrast to the international giants that make up the above spots on this list, Industrial Alliance Insurance, and Financial Services, Inc., which operates under the IA Financial Group brand, conducts almost all of its business in Canada. It collected over $11.4 billion premium in premiums during 2019. The company reported about $651 million of 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 (RY). RY is Canada's biggest bank and one of the largest banks in the world, with about $46 CAD billion in revenue in 2019 and a market capitalization of about $151 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. 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-sized businesses and their employees. Wealth management products include mutual funds, annuities, segregated funds, and savings plans.