2024 Sun Life Insurance Canada: An Essential Buyer’s Review

2024 Sun Life Insurance Canada: An Essential Buyer’s Review
2024 Sun Life Insurance Canada: An Essential Buyer’s Review

With over 150 years of experience in the insurance industry, Sun Life Financial is one of the most established and recognized insurance providers for Canadians.

Sun Life offers a diverse range of insurance products to suit different needs and budgets. This comprehensive, 3000+ word guide provides a detailed review of Sun Life insurance to help you determine if their policies are the right fit.

A Brief Background on Sun Life Financial

Sun Life Financial is a leading international financial services company providing insurance, wealth management, and asset management solutions to individuals and corporate clients.

The company was founded in 1865 as The Sun Insurance Company of Montreal. It was the first company to offer group benefits through an employer in Canada in 1919.

Today, Sun Life Financial has operations in over 26 countries globally. Their headquarters are located in Toronto, Ontario.

According to Sun Life’s 2021 Annual Report, they have:

  • Over 1 million insurance clients
  • Over $1.44 trillion in assets under management
  • 37,000 employees worldwide
  • 2,700 advisors across Canada

Sun Life has consistently maintained strong financial strength ratings from independent agencies like A.M. Best.

What Types of Insurance Does Sun Life Insurance Offer?

What Types of Insurance Does Sun Life Insurance Offer?
What Types of Insurance Does Sun Life Insurance Offer?

Sun Life Financial provides a comprehensive range of individual and group insurance solutions, including:

Life Insurance

  • Term Life
  • Permanent Life
  • Universal Life
  • Participating Life

Health Insurance

  • Critical Illness Insurance
  • Disability Insurance
  • Dental Insurance
  • Health Insurance
  • Long-Term Care Insurance

Wealth Solutions

  • Savings & Income
  • RRSPs
  • TFSAs
  • Mutual Funds
  • Annuities

Group Benefits

  • Employee Benefits
  • Retirement Solutions

In this detailed review, we will focus specifically on Sun Life’s lineup of individual life insurance policies available to Canadians.

How Do Term Life and Permanent Life Policies From Sun Life Insurance Work?
How Do Term Life and Permanent Life Policies From Sun Life Insurance Work?

How Do Term Life Policies From Sun Life Insurance Work?

Term life insurance provides pure death benefit protection for a set period of time or “term.” It does not have any cash value accumulation.

Sun Life offers a range of term life insurance policies to suit different budget and coverage needs:


SunTerm is Sun Life’s standard term insurance product. It offers guaranteed level premiums and death benefits for the duration of the term.

Key Features:

  • Available Terms: 10, 15, 20, 30 years
  • Minimum Coverage: $250,000
  • Maximum Coverage: $15 million
  • Conversion: Up to age 75
  • Renewability: Up to age 85
  • Riders Available: Child, Accidental Death, Disability

SunTerm allows you to renew your coverage in increments up to age 85. It also enables you to convert your policy into a permanent life insurance policy at any point up to age 75, even if your health declines. This provides flexibility to extend protection as your needs change over time.

SunTerm has one of the highest maximum coverage amounts in Canada at $15 million. This can make it attractive for high-net-worth individuals needing substantial coverage.

SunSpectrum Term

SunSpectrum Term is another term life insurance product offered by Sun Life. It has lower minimum coverage amounts compared to SunTerm, making it accessible for more budget-conscious purchasers.

Key Features:

  • Available Terms: 10, 15, 20, 30 years
  • Minimum Coverage: $50,000
  • Maximum Coverage: $15 million
  • Conversion: Up to age 75
  • Renewability: Up to age 85
  • Riders Available: Child, Accidental Death, Disability

Like SunTerm, the SunSpectrum Term policy allows you to renew up to age 85 and convert to permanent insurance up to age 75. It also has add-on riders available.

The key advantage of SunSpectrum Term is the lower minimum coverage amount, starting at just $50,000. This provides more affordable term life insurance options for individuals who may not need or want higher coverage amounts.

Sun Life Go Term

Sun Life Go Term is a streamlined term life insurance product with simplified underwriting. You do not need a medical exam to qualify. It’s an easy way to get smaller amounts of term life insurance coverage quickly.

Key Features:

  • Available Terms: 10, 20 years
  • Minimum Coverage: $100,000
  • Maximum Coverage: $1 million
  • Renewability: Up to the end of the term
  • Riders: None

Go Term offers guaranteed level premiums for the 10 or 20 year policy term. It does not offer conversion or renewal options beyond the end of the term. There are also no riders available.

The key benefit of Go Term is the convenience of obtaining coverage without medical underwriting. However, the tradeoff is higher premiums and less flexibility.

Sun Life Go Simplified Term

Sun Life Go Simplified Term is another no medical exam term life insurance option. It has set coverage amounts and further simplified underwriting compared to Go Term.

Key Features:

  • Available Terms: 10 years only
  • Set Coverage Amounts: $50,000, $75,000, $100,000
  • Renewability: Up to the end of the 10-year term
  • Riders: None

Go Simplified Term only offers 10 years of coverage. You can select one of the three preset coverage amounts. There is no ability to renew or convert the policy after the 10 year term.

This product appeals to those wanting a small amount of temporary life insurance protection without any medical questions. However, the premiums are much higher than Sun Life’s fully underwritten term policies.

Sun Life Term Costs

Sun Life’s term life insurance premiums are competitive but can be pricier compared to some other top Canadian insurers.

Here are sample monthly costs for a healthy 35 year old male seeking $500,000 in 20 year guaranteed SunTerm coverage:

AgeSunTermSunSpectrum TermGo TermGo Simplified Term

Always obtain a personalized quote for the most accurate rates. You can easily compare Sun Life’s prices to other top Canadian life insurance companies using Lifebuzz’s online quoting tool.

How Do Permanent Life Policies From Sun Life Insurance Work?

Permanent life insurance provides lifetime protection as long as you continue paying premiums. It also accumulates cash value that you can borrow against.

Let’s look at the various permanent life insurance options from Sun Life.

Sun Whole Life Insurance

Sun Life offers conventional whole life insurance featuring guaranteed premiums, death benefit, and cash values.

Key Features:

  • Lifetime protection as long as premiums are paid
  • Guaranteed minimum cash value accumulation
  • Coverage from $250,000 to $10 million
  • Available add-on living benefits rider

Whole life policies from Sun Life let you access a portion of the death benefit while alive if diagnosed with a terminal illness.

The cash value grows on a tax-sheltered basis and can be borrowed against. This provides options to supplement retirement income later in life.

SunSpectrum Permanent Life

SunSpectrum Permanent Life is a more budget-friendly permanent life insurance product with lower minimum coverage amounts.

Key Features:

  • Lifetime protection
  • Guaranteed cash value accumulation
  • Coverage from $50,000 to $10 million

With a lower minimum coverage amount of $50,000, SunSpectrum Permanent Life appeals to those wanting smaller amounts of permanent protection with cash savings.

Sun Universal Life Insurance

Sun Life’s universal life insurance combines permanent protection with investment features. You have flexibility in how the cash portion of the policy performs.

There are several universal life insurance options:

SunUL Protector:

  • Lifetime coverage from $250,000 to $10 million
  • Choice of 5 coverage options
  • Wide selection of investment funds from Sun Life and external asset managers
  • Tax-sheltered cash value accumulation

SunSpectrum Universal Life II:

  • Lifetime coverage from $50,000 to $5 million
  • Guaranteed cash value accumulation
  • Variety of coverage options
  • Choice of investment funds

SunUL Optimax Wealth:

  • Specifically designed for high-net-worth business owners
  • Coverage from $1 million to $25 million
  • Selection of riders and benefits
  • Enhanced investment options and underwriting advantages

A major benefit of Sun’s universal life insurance is the ability to choose investments aligned with your risk tolerance. However, the costs are higher than those of traditional permanent life.

Sun Life Participating Life Insurance

Participating life insurance provides lifetime protection while allowing you to share in the profits of the insurance company through dividends.

Sun Life has several participating whole life options:

Sun Par Protector II

  • Whole life protection with guaranteed cash value accumulation
  • Dividends will be paid starting in year 6
  • Coverage from $250,000 up to $10 million

Sun Par Accumulator II

  • Focuses on building higher cash values in early years
  • Single premium structure over 8 years
  • After 8 years, dividends begin accruing

Sun Par Accelerator

  • Designed to maximize dividends
  • Dividends paid in cash annually or left to purchase additional coverage
  • Fully paid up after 8 years
  • Coverage from $25,000 up to $10 million

A unique advantage of participating life insurance is the upside of dividends. However, dividends are not guaranteed.

Sun Life Permanent Insurance Costs

Here are the estimated monthly costs for a 35-year-old male seeking $250,000 in permanent life coverage from Sun Life:

ProductEstimated Premium
Sun Whole Life$150
SunSpectrum Permanent Life II$85
Sun Universal Life II$193
Sun Par Protector II$163

Permanent life insurance is more expensive than term insurance since you are pre-funding future protection. Costs can vary widely depending on the policy type, coverage amount, age, gender, and health profile.

Always obtain personalized quotes to compare accurate pricing from Sun Life and other insurers.

What are the Pros and Cons of Sun Life Insurance?

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

Pros of Sun Life Insurance

  • Established history and strong brand reputation as a leading insurer
  • Wide range of term, permanent, and universal life insurance options
  • Ability to obtain higher coverage amounts over $1 million
  • Participating life insurance products provide dividend upside
  • Variety of living benefits and riders available
  • Vitality program rewards healthy living with premium discounts & rewards
  • Experience dealing with higher net worth clients
  • Access to in-person advisors across Canada

Potential Cons of Sun Life Insurance

  • Premiums can be higher than some competitors for the same coverage
  • Permanent insurance and investment options tend to have higher fees
  • Mixed reputation for customer service and claims response time
  • Underwriting process can be stricter, resulting in higher rates or declined applications
  • Limited online support – need to call or see an advisor for servicing
  • Investment options and flexibility are not as robust as some rivals

While Sun Life undoubtedly has strengths as a trusted national insurer, their products may not offer the best value or experience for all customers.

It’s wise to compare Sun Life’s pricing and features to other top insurers like Manulife, RBC, Canada Life, SSQ before deciding. This ensures you get the optimal blend of coverage, costs, and service.

Features & Riders Offered with Sun Life Insurance

Sun Life insurance policies include a variety of features and optional riders to enhance your coverage for added protection.

Key Features

  • Guaranteed Renewability – Sun Life’s term life insurance policies are guaranteed renewable up to age 85 or 100, depending on the product. This allows you to extend coverage as needed.
  • Guaranteed Convertibility – Most Sun Life term policies offer conversion to permanent life insurance up to at least age 75, regardless of health changes.
  • Coverage Amounts – Sun Life provides higher maximum coverage amounts up to $15 million for high net worth individuals.
  • Vitality Program – Policyholders can earn premium savings and rewards for healthy habits like exercising and getting health screenings.

Optional Riders

  • Accidental Death Benefit – Provides additional payout if death is due to accident before age 70.
  • Children’s Insurance – Purchase term life insurance for your children until age 25.
  • Disability Waiver – Waives premiums if you become disabled and unable to work.
  • Guaranteed Insurability – Lets you purchase more coverage in the future without medical underwriting.
  • Payor Waiver – Waives premiums if the insured suffers cognitive impairment (e.g. dementia)

Carefully review available base features and optional riders when buying a Sun Life policy to customize your coverage.

How Does the Sun Life Insurance Application and Underwriting Process Work?

Sun Life has a comprehensive underwriting process when applying for life insurance:

  • Complete the application with medical history disclosure
  • Schedule medical exams including blood/urine testing
  • Potentially provide additional medical records
  • Interview with Sun Life underwriter to confirm health status
  • Receive approval decision and final rate

Underwriting can take 4-6 weeks. Being upfront about health is crucial. Higher risk applicants may face higher premiums or declines.

An advisor can provide guidance throughout the underwriting process.

How Do You Buy Life Insurance from Sun Life?

You have a few options to buy life insurance coverage from Sun Life Financial:

Work with a Sun Life Advisor

The primary method is to work with one of Sun Life’s licensed insurance advisors. They can guide you through policy options, provide quotes, and assist with the application and underwriting process.

To find an advisor, visit Sun Life’s website and search for advisors by postal code or city. Or call 1-877-SUN-LIFE (786-5433), and they can match you with someone local.

Apply Online

Some Sun Life insurance products allow you to get an instant quote online and apply electronically, including:

  • SunTerm
  • SunUniversalLife
  • Participating Life Insurance
  • Critical Illness Insurance

However, underwriting approval will require medical exams and providing additional documentation.

Go Through an Independent Broker

You can access Sun Life insurance products through an independent life insurance broker or adviser. They can provide quotes and comparisons from Sun Life and other insurers.

No matter how you start the buying process, expect to go through comprehensive medical underwriting. Be prepared to provide medical history, undergo exams and tests, and potentially provide additional medical records.

Also be sure to accurately estimate the amount of coverage needed using an online life insurance needs calculator. Obtaining multiple quotes and comparing costs across insurers is highly recommended.

Is Sun Life Insurance Right for Me?

So when might Sun Life be the best life insurance provider for your needs?

Sun Life Insurance is a good option if you:

  • Prefer purchasing through an in-person financial advisor
  • Seek permanent cash value life insurance for savings or investment purposes
  • Require high coverage amounts exceeding $1 million
  • Have an established relationship with a Sun Life advisor
  • Qualify for preferred health underwriting discounts
  • Appreciate benefits like the Vitality program

Sun Life Insurance may not be ideal if you:

  • Are primarily looking for basic term life insurance
  • Want an easy and quick online purchase process
  • Seek lowest cost life insurance coverage
  • Prefer robust online self-service capabilities
  • Have existing health issues that may lead to higher rates or declines

As Canada’s leading digital insurance advisor, Lifebuzz can provide unbiased guidance whether Sun Life offers the right fit for your needs. Get a quick quote today to compare your options.

How to Make a Claim with Sun Life Insurance

If faced with needing to make a life insurance claim with Sun Life, here is the process:

  1. Contact Sun Life via phone, email or mail to notify them of the death. They will provide the insurance claim forms.
  2. Complete the claim forms and submit them along with a certified copy of the death certificate. For accidental death, police and coroner reports will be needed.
  3. Sun Life will review the claim and may request additional medical records, probate documents, financial records or other information.
  4. Once the claim is approved, Sun Life makes a lump-sum payment to the designated beneficiaries on file.
  • The standard life insurance claim processing time is typically 1-2 weeks from receiving completed forms.
  • For more complex cases, including contestable death claims, the process may take 4-8 weeks or longer.
  • Always ensure beneficiary designations are up-to-date and communicate any address changes with Sun Life to avoid delays in payment.

Sun Life Insurance Customer Reviews

Sun Life insurance gets mixed customer feedback based on reviews on sites like TrustPilot. Here is an overview:

Positive Feedback

  • Helpful advisors who take time to explain policy options and features
  • Smooth application process with clear communication
  • Fast life insurance claim payouts within a week in some cases
  • Positive experiences contacting customer service

Negative Feedback

  • Long delays getting a response back from Sun Life advisors
  • Struggles contacting Sun Life customer service via phone
  • Slow claims processing taking months in some cases
  • Issues with getting beneficiary payouts released in a timely manner
  • Difficulty making changes or accessing policy information online

As one of Canada’s largest insurers, Sun Life provides good value for some customers but the experience can vary. It’s wise to consider ease of doing business as you evaluate providers.

Final Thoughts: Who is Sun Life Best For?

At over 150 years old, Sun Life Financial undeniably has deep insurance expertise and brand recognition across Canada. Their broad suite of policies with higher coverage amounts, in-person advisor access, and upside of dividends can be beneficial for select customers.

For many Canadians, Sun Life may not offer the best value on basic term life insurance which can often be purchased more affordably online. Their underwriting tends to be conservative potentially leading to higher premiums or declined applications for some individuals.

Overall, Sun Life stands as a pillar among Canadian insurance companies. But it is wise to compare your options across multiple providers. This ensures you get the right fit considering your budget, coverage needs, lifestyle, and preferences.

To explore your personalized Sun Life insurance quote today along with other top providers, get a quick free comparison quote from Lifebuzz.

Frequently Asked Questions about Sun Life Insurance

Can I get Sun Life insurance if I have a pre-existing health condition?

You may be able to qualify for Sun Life insurance with a pre-existing condition, but you will likely pay higher premiums compared to those with clean medical histories. Sun Life conducts full underwriting, so be prepared to provide medical records.

How do I check the status of my Sun Life insurance claim?

To check the status of a Sun Life insurance claim, you can contact the Sun Life claims team directly via phone, email, or mail. Sun Life does not provide claim status tracking online. Be prepared to provide the deceased's full name, date of birth, policy number, and date of death.

Can I get a copy of my Sun Life insurance policy online?

Sun Life does provide online access to insurance policy documents through their client website. Registering for a my Sun Life account enables you to view, download, and print copies of your full policy, terms and conditions, statements, and other documents electronically.

How do I change the beneficiary on my Sun Life insurance policy?

To change the beneficiary on a Sun Life insurance policy, contact Sun Life via phone, email or mail to request a beneficiary change form. This signed and completed form along with supporting documents confirming your identity will be needed to officially record the beneficiary change.

What is the AM Best rating for Sun Life Financial?

Sun Life Financial currently holds an A+ or "Superior" Financial Strength Rating from AM Best. This indicates Sun Life has a very strong ability to meet their ongoing policy and contract obligations.

Can I renew my Sun Life term life insurance policy?

Most Sun Life term life insurance policies are guaranteed renewable up to age 85 or 100 depending on the specific product. This allows you to extend your coverage in increments. Converting to permanent insurance may also be an option before renewal ends.

Can I manage my Sun Life insurance policy online?

Yes, Sun Life insurance customers can register for an online my Sun Life account to manage their policies digitally. You can view documents, update information, make payments, file claims, track investments, send messages, and more through the Sun Life website.

How do I cancel my individual Sun Life insurance policy?

To cancel a Sun Life insurance policy, contact Sun Life via phone, email or mail. You will need to provide your name, date of birth, policy number and signature. Reasons for cancellation may need to be provided. Any cancellation refund would be based on policy terms.

Where is the head office for Sun Life Financial located?

The corporate head office and operational headquarters for Sun Life Financial are located at One York Street, Toronto, Ontario M5J 0B6. The company previously operated out of Montreal before relocating its head office to Toronto.

Does Sun Life insurance offer an accelerated death benefit rider?

Sun Life does not offer an accelerated death benefit rider for individual life insurance. Some insurers do have this rider allowing access to a portion of the death benefit if diagnosed as terminally ill.

How do I apply for a Waiver of Premium claim with Sun Life insurance?

Contact Sun Life to notify them of your disability and request a Waiver of Premium claim form. Your doctor will need to provide medical evidence of your qualifying disability. Sun Life will determine if you are eligible to stop paying premiums.

What is the grace period for missed Sun Life life insurance premium payments?

Sun Life provides a standard 31-day grace period for late premium payments on individual life insurance policies. The policy stays in effect during this time, but can lapse if unpaid by the grace period expiration.

Can I insure my newborn baby with Sun Life insurance?

You can get life insurance coverage on your newborn child with Sun Life through the Children's Term Rider available on SunTerm policies. This covers newborns starting 15 days after birth until they reach age 25.

Can I purchase Sun Life insurance if I'm not a Canadian resident or citizen?

Sun Life will insure non-Canadian residents and foreign citizens under certain conditions. You must have a valid nexus to Canada, such as employment, assets, or family relations in the country.

How do I send a complaint to Sun Life insurance?

To send a written complaint to Sun Life, you can email them at [email protected] or mail a letter to Sun Life Financial, Customer Relations Department, 227 King St S, PO Box 1601 Stn Waterloo, Waterloo ON N2J 4C5.

Can I insure my parents with Sun Life insurance?

Yes, you can purchase individual life insurance from Sun Life on your parents. Their policies would be separate from yours and require full individual underwriting. Premiums are based on their age and health status.

What is the occupation class rating for Sun Life insurance underwriting?

Sun Life uses an occupation class rating during underwriting ranging from 1 to 6, with 1 being the least hazardous occupations like professional and office workers and 6 being the most hazardous like mining, forestry, or oil/gas.

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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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