Sun Life Insurance Review

Basic life insurance coverage with limited policy details and few riders

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Sun Life

Sun Life

Our Take

Sun Life is not a life insurance company that we would recommend. It has limited online policy details, a small selection of riders, and a lack of online resources. Plus, the website is difficult to navigate, and the company has limited customer support options.

  • Pros and Cons
  • Key Takeaways
  • Company Overview
Pros and Cons
Pros
  • Easy to request policy changes online

  • No-exam coverage available

  • Great financial strength rating

Cons
  • Limited policy information online

  • Average customer support options

  • No online quotes

  • Difficult to navigate the website

Key Takeaways
  • Sun Life is one of the largest life insurance companies in Canada.
  • The company offers term, whole, universal, and guaranteed issue coverage.
  • Sun Life has limited riders, and it doesn’t disclose any important details about the policies on its website.
  • It’s a financially strong insurer, with an A+ rating from AM Best.
Company Overview

Sun Life is a financial services provider that sells individual and group life, health, and disability insurance to millions of customers in the United States, Canada, Asia, and beyond. Sun Life, established in 1865, is headquartered in Toronto, Canada, and is one of the oldest and largest insurance companies in the world.

Sun Life insurance policies are available in all 50 states and Washington, D.C., but if you live in New York, the policies are underwritten by Delaware Life. In order to get a quote or apply for coverage, you’ll have to reach out to the company directly.

  • Year Founded 1865
  • Kinds of Plans Term, whole, universal, guaranteed issue
  • Number of Plans 4
  • Payment Plan Options Monthly, annually, semi-annually
  • Customer Service Phone (permanent policies): 1-800-862-6266; Phone (term policies): 1-877-431-7379; Email: USWeb_Individual_Customer_Service@Sunlife.com
  • Official Website www.sunlife.com/us/en/

Sun Life is not one of our top-rated life insurance companies. You can review our list of the best life insurance companies for what we think are better options.

Pros Explained

  • Easy to request policy changes online: Sun Life has an extensive library of online forms, which makes it easy to request updates to your policy, change your beneficiaries, and file claims without contacting an agent first.
  • No-exam coverage available: Sun Life offers a guaranteed issue policy that doesn’t require applicants to take a traditional medical exam. 
  • Great financial strength rating: The company has an A+ rating from AM Best, which indicates superior financial strength.

Cons Explained

  • Limited policy information online: Sun Life doesn’t include any information online about what its policies cover, including age qualifications, coverage limits, and term lengths.
  • Average customer support options: To get in touch with Sun Life, you have to call or email the company. There’s no way to search for in-person agents in the U.S.
  • No online quotes: Sun Life doesn’t offer online quotes, nor is there an online form you can submit to request more information about individual life policies.
  • Difficult to navigate the website: Because Sun Life has a different webpage for every region, it can be difficult to find the information you’re looking for that is relevant to your home country. 

Available Plans

Sun Life sells four types of life insurance. Unfortunately, you won’t be able to find much information about these policies or what they cover on Sun Life’s website. Although Sun Life has some information about its group life policies, we found hardly any details about the individual life options. If you’re interested in learning more about the specifics of any of these policies, we recommend reaching out to the company.

Term Life Insurance

Term life insurance is a good option for young and healthy individuals or families who want affordable coverage. Term life insurance provides coverage for a certain number of years and has level premiums and a guaranteed death benefit. If the policyholder passes away during the term, their beneficiaries receive the death benefit. If they outlive the term, they sometimes have the option to convert their term policy into a permanent policy, otherwise, the coverage ends when the term ends.

Whole Life Insurance

Whole life insurance offers permanent coverage that lasts for your entire lifetime. The main difference between whole life insurance and term life insurance is that whole life insurance builds cash value, which grows at a fixed interest rate. Once the cash value reaches a certain balance, you can withdraw some of the money and use it like a personal loan. In most cases, you can either repay the loan with interest, or as an alternative, the money will be deducted from the death benefit.

Universal Life Insurance

Like whole life insurance, universal life insurance builds cash value that can be used as a loan while you’re still living. However, universal life insurance has a flexible death benefit and adjustable premiums. If your cash value reserves are big enough, you can use the money to reduce the frequency or the amount of your premiums.

Guaranteed Issue Life Insurance

On its website, Sun Life mentions that it offers a guaranteed issue life insurance policy. Guaranteed issue coverage doesn’t require a medical exam, so anyone who applies can get approved, regardless of their health. Guaranteed issue policies are usually more expensive than regular whole life or term life insurance because the underwriter has to assume more risk in the absence of a medical exam.

Guaranteed issue policies usually have low coverage limits and higher premiums because declining a medical exam could imply that you have health issues that could make you riskier to insure.

Available Riders

Life insurance riders are optional coverages. They provide protection in specific circumstances that your standard policy does not cover. Sun Life only offers two life insurance riders, which include:

Accidental Death Benefit Rider

An accidental death benefit rider will provide an additional death benefit if the policyholder’s death is ruled accidental. Every insurance company has a different definition of “accidental,” but it usually includes car crashes, slips, drowning, and machinery accidents. It may not include events that would be considered hazardous, like skydiving. 

Waiver of Disability Rider

A waiver of disability rider will allow you to stop paying your life insurance premiums if you become totally disabled or sick and are unable to work. In order to take advantage of this rider, you will have to provide medical proof that you have become disabled since your policy took effect.

Customer Service

Sun Life sells life insurance policies through brokers and consultants. The only ways to get in touch with the company are to call or email them. If you have a term life insurance policy, the direct customer service number is (877) 431-7379. If you have a permanent policy, you can call (800) 862-6266. If you live in New York, however, the contact number is (877) 750-8683. Unfortunately, Sun Life’s business hours aren’t listed on the website. You can also email the company at USWeb_Individual_Customer_Service@Sunlife.com

Complaint Index

The National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) Company Complaint Index scores insurance companies based on complaints from real customers. It accounts for things like customer service, claims payouts, claims satisfaction, policy cancellation issues, and more and weighs the number of complaints against the company's market share.

Sun Life’s 2020 NAIC Company Complaint Index score is 0.61, which is below the industry average of 1.0. The company only had three complaints in 2020 and has maintained a below-average complaint score since 2018. 

Third-Party Ratings

Sun Life has an A+ financial strength rating from AM Best, which is the second-highest rating possible. This shows that the company has enough money to repay policyholders in full after a covered claim. 

Besides AM Best, however, Sun Life doesn’t have many third-party ratings. The company is not rated in J.D. Power’s 2020 life insurance study, which scores the biggest insurance companies based on overall customer satisfaction using policyholder feedback.

Cancellation Policy

If you buy a life insurance policy from Sun Life, you can cancel it at any time. Term life coverage will end once you stop paying the premiums, and you won’t have to pay any surrender fees. But if you have a whole or universal life policy, there could be a surrender fee based on the length of time that the policy was in force. When you cancel a permanent life insurance policy, you will receive a check for the unused cash value less any surrender fees.

Price

Because Sun Life Insurance doesn’t have an online quote tool or any sample rates, it’s difficult to determine how expensive the premiums are. However, keep in mind that everyone pays a different rate for life insurance. Premiums are based on personalized factors, like your age, health, family history of disease, smoking status, and the type of policy you buy.

Another factor that will impact the cost of your life insurance policy is your gender. Men typically pay higher rates than women because data shows they have a slightly shorter life expectancy. Individuals who identify as non-binary will have no trouble getting life insurance, but most insurance companies require you to mark “male” or “female” on the application based on your birth assignment.

Because there is no industry standard for underwriting policies for transgender and non-binary individuals, we recommend reaching out to Sun Life to learn more about the cost of life insurance for non-binary applicants. 

If you want cheap life insurance, opt for a term life policy, quit smoking, work with your doctor to manage existing health issues, and consider paying your annual premium in full.

Competition

Sun Life is one of the largest life insurance companies in Canada. If you’re looking for a life insurance company with a strong presence and longstanding history, we also recommend Prudential. We named Prudential as the best overall life insurance company in our recent review, and across the board, it's a much better option than Sun Life.

Prudential is the fourth-largest life insurance company in the United States, with 5.80% of the total market share. It sells 11 life insurance policies and a wide variety of riders. The company doesn't sell whole life insurance, but there are multiple term and universal life policies available.

One of the biggest reasons why we recommend Prudential over Sun Life is because Prudential offers great online tools and resources. There are coverage calculators, helpful articles, and online quotes for term life policies. For comparison, Sun Life doesn’t offer any online resources, nor does it offer online quotes for any policy.

  Sun Life Insurance Prudential
Market Share N/A 4th-largest, 5.80% of the market share
Number of Plans  11 
Dividends for 2020  Not applicable  Not applicable 
Wellness Program Discounts/Quit Smoking Incentives  Not applicable  Not applicable 
Service Method  Brokers and consultants  Agents, financial services professionals 
AM Best Rating  A+  A+ 
Price Rank  About average  About average 
Complaint Index 0.61 (below average)  0.98 (below average) 
Final Verdict

Sun Life is an average life insurance company, and we wouldn’t recommend it. The company is not transparent in terms of its coverage options, there are only two riders available, the customer support is limited, and the online user experience is not great.

Methodology

Our reviews of life insurance companies are based on a quantitative methodology that analyzes each insurer on their stability and reliability, customer service, claims experience, diversity of product lines, and cost. We compare the terms of each type of policy offered—including available coverage amounts, optional riders, and premium payment options—with those of other major life insurance companies. Lastly, we look at how the company is rated by third-party organizations to determine its reliability and overall reputation.

Article Sources

Investopedia requires writers to use primary sources to support their work. These include white papers, government data, original reporting, and interviews with industry experts. We also reference original research from other reputable publishers where appropriate. You can learn more about the standards we follow in producing accurate, unbiased content in our editorial policy .
  1. NAIC. "Sun Life & Hlth Ins Co National Complaint Index Report." Accessed May 18, 2021.

  2. NAIC. "Life and Fraternal Insurance Industry 2020 Top 25 Groups and Companies by Countrywide Premium." Accessed May 18, 2021.