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Empire Life Insurance Review in Canada: A Deep Dive for Canadians

Empire Life Insurance Review in Canada: A Deep Dive for Canadians
Empire Life Insurance Review in Canada: A Deep Dive for Canadians

Empire Life insurance is one of the oldest and most established insurance providers in Canada. Offering policies since 1923, Empire Life has built a reputation for reliable service and competitive rates.

In this comprehensive review, we’ll provide an in-depth assessment of Empire Life Insurance to help Canadians decide if their policies are the right solution.

What is Empire Life Insurance?

Empire Life is a privately owned insurance company headquartered in Kingston, Ontario. They provide individual and family life insurance and health insurance policies to over 450,000 customers across Canada.

Here are some key facts about Empire Life:

  • Financial Strength Rating: A (Excellent) from A.M. Best (1)
  • Total Assets: $15 billion
  • 2020 Life Insurance Claims Paid in Canada: 99.6% (2)
  • Products Offered: Term, permanent, critical illness, disability

With close to 100 years of operating in Canada and consistently high claims payout rates, Empire Life has built a reputation as a reliable and stable insurer.

What are the Pros and Cons of Empire Life Insurance?
What are the Pros and Cons of Empire Life Insurance?

What are the Pros of Empire Life Insurance?

There are many advantages that make Empire Life Insurance policies a strong option for coverage in Canada:

Long-standing Canadian company with proven financial strength

As one of Canada’s oldest homegrown insurers, Empire Life has demonstrated resilience and financial stability across multiple decades. An ‘A’ rating from A.M. Best confirms their excellent financial strength to fulfill claims.

Canadians can trust Empire Life to be there when they need it most. Their long history in Canada shows they are in it for the long haul.

Competitive rates, especially for smokers

Empire Life Insurance offers some of the most competitive rates in Canada on coverage for non-smokers. But where they really shine is providing affordable preferred rates for smokers.

For smokers who buy over $1 million in coverage and meet Empire Life’s preferred criteria, their rates are among the cheapest in Canada. Preferred smokers enjoy lower premiums vs. Empire’s standard smoker rates.

Here are some sample preferred monthly smoker rates from Empire Life vs. competitors:

AgeCoverageEmpire LifeAverage of Competitors
35$500,000$31.95$31.70
40$500,000$45.90$45.49

To qualify for Empire Life’s preferred non-smoker rates, applicants must:

  • Have cholesterol under 280 mg/dL
  • Have blood pressure under 145/90 mmHg
  • Have no major chronic health conditions
  • Have a family history clear of early-onset disease
  • Work in a relatively safe occupation

The preferred criteria provide big savings for healthier smokers in Canada.

Wide range of term lengths

Empire Life Insurance offers one of the most flexible selections of term lengths in Canada. Canadians can choose policies from 10 to 30 years in 5-year increments.

Term options include:

  • 10-year term
  • 20-year term
  • 25-year term
  • 30-year term

The longer durations allow Canadians to match their coverage to financial needs like mortgages, loan repayment, and income replacement.

Opportunity to renew term policies until age 100

A unique advantage of Empire Life Insurance is the ability to renew term policies until the age of 100 in Canada. This provides longer protection than many other top insurers.

Renewability gives Canadians ongoing coverage as they get older when new policies often become unaffordable.

Range of permanent and “term-to-100” options

In addition to term policies, Empire Life offers permanent life insurance options for lifelong protection in Canada. Canadians can choose between:

  • Whole life
  • Participating whole life
  • Term-to-100

The term-to-100 policy starts out as term coverage and then converts to permanent whole life with guaranteed premiums around age 100. This balances affordability with lifelong protection.

Optimax Wealth is Empire Life’s flagship permanent policy known for strong dividend growth and early cash value accumulation in as little as 20 years.

Tax-free critical illness insurance

Canadians can enhance their Empire Life Insurance coverage with critical illness insurance – either as a base policy or an add-on rider.

This pays out a tax-free lump sum of up to $2 million upon diagnosis of a covered illness or condition. The payout can help cover costs that go beyond medical treatment.

Streamlined underwriting and accelerated decision-making

Empire Life prides itself on faster-than-average underwriting and decision-making on applications.

Many clients experience approval in just days. This gets Canadians covered more quickly than drawn-out delays with other insurers.

Accelerated underwriting is powered by Empire Life’s proprietary BASILICA system and innovative use of data. About 75% of their new business is processed electronically for fast decisions.

Dedicated advisor team – no commissions

Empire Life’s licensed advisors work directly for the company as salaried employees – not third-party brokers. This reduces potential conflicts around commissions influencing recommendations.

Since Empire Life advisors earn the same regardless of the policy you buy, Canadians get objective and transparent guidance aligned to their unique needs.

What are the Cons of Empire Life Insurance?

While Empire Life Insurance policies offer many advantages, there are some limitations to keep in mind:

No universal life insurance option

If you are set on universal life insurance for its flexible premiums and death benefits, Empire Life doesn’t offer this type of policy. Their focus is on competitively priced term and permanent life products.

Online quotes are not available; phone guidance is required

Unlike some direct insurers, Empire Life does not show online quotes. Canadians need to speak with an advisor to receive accurate pricing.

However, their advisors have fast access to rates and can provide quotes promptly over the phone.

Premium rates in the middle of the pack

Empire Life Insurance’s standard (non-preferred) premium rates for healthy non-smokers tend to be in the middle compared to competitors – not the absolute lowest, but not high either. See the sample tables below for reference.

Their value proposition is strongly preferred smoker rates and long-standing financial stability as a Canadian insurer.

Here are some sample standard monthly rates for healthy non-smokers:

AgeCoverageEmpire LifePolicyMeRBC
35$500,000$31.95$32.15$31.32
40$500,000$45.90$47.68$45.22

And for smokers:

AgeCoverageEmpire LifePolicyMeRBC
35$500,000$31.95$85.13$31.32
40$500,000$45.90$134.68$45.22

What Products does Empire Life Insurance offer?

What Products does Empire Life Insurance offer?
What Products does Empire Life Insurance offer?

Empire Life Insurance offers a suite of customizable term life insurance, permanent life insurance, and critical illness insurance options that can be tailored to the needs of individuals and families in Canada.

Empire Term Life Insurance

Empire Life Insurance has several types of term life insurance, including renewable, convertible, and longer terms up to age 100:

  • 10 Year Renewable Term – Affordable option for shorter needs like debt coverage. Rates increase every 10 years and are renewable until age 85.
  • 20 Year Renewable Term – Coverage for longer needs with guaranteed rates for 20 years. Renewable until age 65.
  • 25 Year Renewable Term – A longer option with guaranteed rates for 25 years. Renewable until age 60.
  • 30 Year Renewable Term – Provides full 30 years of guaranteed rates. Renewable until age 55.
  • Term-to-100 – Unique hybrid policy with a 30-year term converting to a permanent policy with lifelong benefits.
  • Annually Renewable Term – a 1-year policy that renews annually until age 85. Lower cost choice for temporary needs.

Face amounts start at $25,000 and go up to $10 million for Canadians needing basic or jumbo coverage.

All Empire Life term policies offer:

  • Renewability: Policies can be renewed up to stated ages without medical underwriting
  • Convertibility: Option to convert to permanent insurance
  • Level premiums: Rates locked in for the duration of each term period
  • Living benefits: Access to cash value if terminally ill

Empire Permanent Life Insurance

Empire Life permanent policies provide lifelong coverage for Canadians along with cash value savings that grow tax-deferred.

Options include:

  • Whole Life Insurance – Guaranteed premiums with cash value for lifetime protection.
  • Participating Whole Life – Pays dividends from company surplus for enhanced benefits. Two plans are offered: EstateMax and Optimax Wealth.
  • Term-to-100 – Combines term and permanent coverage. Excess premiums fund cash value in later years.

Face amounts for permanent life range from $25,000 to $10 million. Guaranteed cash values, dividends, conversion options and living benefits give Canadians added security.

For Canadians focused on wealth transfer, Empire Life’s Optimax participating whole life policy is designed to maximize dividends through a 100-year age limit.

Empire Critical Illness Insurance

Canadians can supplement their life insurance with Empire Life’s critical illness coverage – available standalone or as an add-on rider.

Benefit amounts go up to $2 million. Two main options are offered:

  • CI Protect – Covers the “Big 4” critical illnesses: cancer, heart attack, stroke, coronary bypass. More affordable basic coverage.
  • CI Protect Plus – Enhanced protection covering 25+ conditions. Extra coverage for things like MS, paralysis, coma and loss of independent living.

Empire Life also offers innovative non-life-threatening illness coverage that pays out a portion of the critical illness benefit for specified moderate conditions, allowing treatment without impacting the main coverage amount.

Other optional riders provide coverage for children and premium refunds at expiry.

What are the Additional Products from Empire Life Insurance?

What are the Additional Products from Empire Life Insurance?
life buzz quote in canada new 8 1
What are the Additional Products from Empire Life Insurance?

Beyond individual life and health insurance, Empire Life also provides:

Group Insurance – Life, health, dental and disability products for employers to cover employees through work benefits plans.

Annuities – Guaranteed income products including RRIFs, RRSPs, and fixed annuities to fund retirement.

Segregated Funds – Tax-advantaged investment funds providing market-linked returns with guarantees.

Mutual Funds – Professionally managed investment funds with equity, fixed income, and balanced fund options.

Wealth Management – Comprehensive financial and estate planning services delivered alongside affiliated advisors.

This range of products allows Empire Life to serve both the protection and investment needs of Canadians.

How to Buy Life Insurance from Empire Life Insurance in Canada

Applying for life insurance through Empire Life involves just a few key steps:

Getting a Quote – Speak with an advisor to receive a personalized premium quote based on your age, smoking status, health, lifestyle, and desired coverage amount.

Completing the Application – Fill out a detailed application providing your medical history, family health background, finances, and other personal details. This can be done electronically or on paper.

Underwriting Review – Empire Life underwriters will evaluate your application using BASILICA to determine any risk factors and make an approval decision, often within just days.

Issuing the Policy – Once approved, Empire Life will issue your personalized policy documents, and coverage will take effect after paying your first premium.

To start the quoting and application process, visit Lifebuzz’s website at www.lifebuzz.ca or call 1-888-611-6722.

Tips for Buying the Best Empire Life Insurance Policy in Canada

Follow these tips when purchasing Empire Life insurance to find the optimal policy:

Compare Quotes from Multiple Providers

Always compare Empire Life to other top insurers before deciding. An advisor can quickly source the best rates across the market for your situation.

Consider Term-to-100 for Lifelong Coverage

Empire Life’s unique term-to-100 policy balances long-term savings with affordable term rates in the early years. It’s worth exploring if you want permanent coverage.

Add Critical Illness Insurance for Enhanced Protection

For only a small increase in premiums, critical illness insurance can provide needed cash benefits during health crises.

Bundle Policies to Save on Fees

Ask about bundling your life and critical illness insurance together to save on policy fees. Empire Life makes it easy to combine coverage.

Focus on Preferred Smoker Criteria for Lower Rates

If you are a smoker, improving health markers to meet Empire Life’s preferred criteria can reduce premiums significantly.

Work With an Independent Advisor

An independent advisor who can objectively compare all providers will ensure you get the best rates for your situation, whether or not Empire Life is the right fit.

The Bottom Line: Is Empire Life Insurance Right for You?

Empire Life is undoubtedly one of the top life insurance companies in Canada, with a rock-solid reputation. For Canadians seeking reliable protection backed by financial strength, Empire Life is a leader compared to other insurance companies look like : Sun Life, Beneva Insurance, SSQ insurance, Assumption Life Insurance, Industrial Alliance Life Insurance, …

Their competitive preferred smoker rates, unique term-to-100 option, and ability to renew term policies until age 100 give added flexibility for coverage.

Overall, Empire Life is a great choice for many types of Canadian life insurance buyers:

For Smokers – Empire Life’s preferred smoker rates provide big savings versus standard industry rates. A minimum of $1 million in coverage is required.

For Families – Renewable terms with lifetime coverage work well for income replacement and mortgage protection as family needs evolve.

For Small Business Owners – Affordable 10 or 20 year guaranteed terms are ideal for buy-sell agreements and succession planning.

For Estate Planning – Permanent cash value policies help fund tax-efficient wealth transfers to beneficiaries.

Before choosing Empire Life, be sure to explore all your options and compare rates across providers. An advisor can help identify the most suitable and affordable policy for your specific needs.

Frequently Asked Questions about Empire Life Insurance

How much does life insurance cost from Empire Life?

Life insurance rates from Empire Life depends on factors like age, health, lifestyle, type of policy and amount of coverage. Speak to an advisor for a personalized quote suited to your needs.

What is the claims payout rate for Empire Life?

Empire Life has consistently high claims payment rates. In 2020, their overall individual life insurance claims payout rate was 99.6%.

Where is Empire Life insurance available?

Empire Life sells policies across all provinces in Canada. They have offices located in Kingston, Toronto, Vancouver, Calgary, Halifax and Montreal.

When should I buy life insurance from Empire Life?

The best time to buy life insurance is when you have financial dependents or obligations to cover, like a new mortgage, family or business partners. Empire Life has options both short and long-term needs.

Why choose Empire Life over other life insurance companies?

Reasons to choose Empire Life include their strong financial ratings, competitive preferred smoker rates, innovative underwriting technology, and ability to renew term life policies until age 100.

Do Empire Life term policies automatically renew?

Empire Life term policies don't auto-renew at the end of the term, but you can re-apply for a new term policy without medical underwriting up until stated ages.

Can smokers get life insurance from Empire Life?

Yes, Empire Life offers policies for smokers. Their preferred smoker rates are some of the most affordable for smokers buying over $1 million in coverage.

Is a medical exam required for Empire Life insurance?

For standard policies, a medical exam, doctor's records and/or health questionnaire may be required. Those applying for no medical exam policies can qualify without tests or records.

What health conditions does Empire Life decline?

Each case is evaluated individually, but common reasons for decline include terminal illnesses, unstable chronic conditions, or not meeting built-in requirements.

Do Empire Life insurance policies require a blood test?

Blood tests may be required to qualify for preferred nonsmoker rates, but are not mandatory for a standard policy. Simplified underwriting is available for some applicants.

How long does it take to get approved with Empire Life?

Empire Life prides itself on accelerated underwriting. Most applicants experience approval in days rather than the industry average of weeks or months.

What is Empire Life's AM Best rating?

Empire Life has earned an A (Excellent) Financial Strength Rating from AM Best, indicating long-term stability and low risk of insolvency.

Who owns Empire Life insurance?

Empire Life is a privately owned company. Unlike publicly traded insurers, they do not have to answer to outside shareholders and can focus on policyholders' interests.

Does Empire Life sell universal life insurance?

Universal life insurance is not offered by Empire Life currently. Their focus is on providing competitive renewable term and permanent life insurance products to Canadians.

How do I contact Empire Life insurance?

You can contact Empire Life by calling 1-855-875-2125 or visiting their website at www.empire.ca. Live chat and email contact options are also available.

What is Empire Life's participating account rate of return?

In 2022, the gross rate of return on Empire Life's participating account was 6.4%. This fund generates dividends paid to holders of participating permanent policies.

How do I check the status of my Empire Life insurance application?

To check the status of an application, contact your Empire Life advisor directly or call customer service at 1-800-267-0215. Underwriting usually provides a decision within days.

How do I pay Empire Life insurance premiums?

Premiums can be paid annually, semi-annually, quarterly, monthly or through automatic monthly bank withdrawals. Empire Life offers flexibility in payment plans.

Does Empire Life offer mortgage insurance?

Yes, Empire Life's renewable and convertible term life insurance can be used to cover mortgage balances in the event of death. Their term-to-100 policy also works well for this purpose.

What optional riders does Empire Life offer?

Available supplemental riders include accelerated critical illness insurance, child critical illness insurance, accidental death coverage, and waiver of premium for disability, among others.

Article Sources:

For a deeper look at our dedication to accuracy, transparency, and independence, please refer to the Lifebuzz.ca Editorial Policy. We take great pride in being Canada’s most trusted life insurance news source:

  1. Empire Life Insurance Review – Updated 2024 – https://www.policyadvisor.com/
  2. Empire Life Life Insurance Review: Best for Smokers & Short-Term Cash Value – https://www.policyme.com/
  3. Empire Life Insurance Reviews 2024 – https://www.dundaslife.com/
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Written by Ben Nguyen

Ben Nguyen is an award-winning insurance expert and industry veteran with over 20 years of experience. He is the chairman and director of IDC Insurance Direct Canada Inc., one of Canada's leading online insurance brokerages.

Ben is renowned for his extensive knowledge of life, health, disability, and travel insurance products. He is the prolific author of over 1,000 educational articles published on LifeBuzz, BestInsuranceOnline, and InsuranceDirectCanada. His articles provide Canadians with advice on making smart insurance decisions.

With a Bachelor's degree in Actuarial Science and a Fellow of the Canadian Institute of Actuaries (FCIA) designation, Ben is frequently interviewed by media as an insurance industry spokesperson.

He has received numerous honors including the Insurance Council of Canada’s Pivotal Leadership Award, the Canadian Insurance Hall of Fame induction, and the President’s Medal from the Canadian Institute of Actuaries.

Ben continues to shape the vision and strategy of IDC Insurance Direct as chairman. He is dedicated to advancing the insurance industry through his insightful leadership.

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