What is permanent life insurance?

Permanent life insurance is often called whole life insurance because it covers you for your whole life. It gives your beneficiaries a tax-free payment after you die. Some plans can build cash value over time.

Permanent insurance costs are usually guaranteed not to increase from the time you first buy the policy. And some permanent insurance plans let you pay for a limited time and then never again. Universal life and participating life are other forms of permanent life insurance that you may want to consider.

How does permanent life insurance work?

Permanent life insurance covers you throughout your life. After you die, your beneficiaries will receive the death benefit. 

The death benefit refers to the amount of money your beneficiaries get when you die. You can name your family or anyone you want as your beneficiaries. 

Beneficiaries are the people or person you want to financially protect. The amount of money they get after you die depends on: 

  • how much life insurance coverage you buy, and
  • the type of policy you have.

They can then use that money as they wish. For example, they can use it to help cover the cost of: 

  • debts,
  • mortgage or rent,
  • child-care,
  • tuition,
  • living essentials and more.

Permanent insurance costs typically don’t increase from the time you first buy the policy. And some permanent insurance plans let you pay for a limited time and then never again. 

Most permanent insurance policies also include a feature called cash value. 

What is cash value? It’s a savings component that can grow over time. You can borrow against it or use it as collateral for a loan. You may also withdraw your cash value, but this may reduce your policy’s death benefit. There can also be tax consequences to accessing your policy’s cash value.

Sun Life offers three types of permanent life insurance plans:

  • Whole life insurance
  • Participating life insurance
  • Universal life insurance 

Compare the 3 types of permanent life insurance

  Whole life insurance
Participating life Insurance Universal life insurance
How can I get a quote?

You can get a quote online or through an advisor

An advisor can get you a quote.

An advisor can get you a quote.

Do I get lifetime coverage?  Yes Yes Yes
Can my policy value Policy value may include cash value, investment growth and dividends. This may or may not increase your policy’s death benefit. Talk to an advisor for more details.
grow over time?
Depends on the product. Depending on the whole life insurance product you choose, there may be opportunity for your policy value to grow. Talk to an advisor for more details. Yes Yes
Can I get dividends with this policy? N/A Yes, but dividends aren’t guaranteed. N/A
Where can I learn more?  More about whole life insurance. More about participating life insurance More about universal life insurance.

See our permanent insurance products

Whole life insurance

We offer two types of whole life insurance plans: 

Get a quote

Participating life insurance

We offer three types of participating life insurance plans:

Universal life insurance 

We offer three types of universal life insurance plans: 

Frequently Asked Questions

As you age, or if your health deteriorates, purchasing a new insurance plan becomes much more costly. But with most permanent insurance, the premium is guaranteed to stay the same for the life of the policy. 

Plus, when you buy a permanent life insurance policy, the benefit is guaranteed for the rest of your life. 

Permanent life insurance can provide you with the security of knowing your loved ones will have lasting, stable protection. It can offer peace of mind early, leaving you free to enjoy your life now.

Whole life insurance is a type of permanent life insurance. It’s a life insurance policy that stays in effect for as long as you live, no matter your age or health. It can also help give your family financial assistance after you die.

There are three types of permanent life insurance: whole life, universal life and participating life insurance. To get more detailed information on how they work and which one’s right for you, talk to an advisor

Both term and permanent life insurance offers a tax-free death benefit to your beneficiaries after you die. But under a term policy, you’re covered only for a set amount of time (e.g. 10, 20 or 30 years). So, if you died after this time, your beneficiaries won’t get the proceeds. You can renew the policy when your term ends, but your premiums may be higher after renewal.

With a permanent policy, however, you’re covered for life and your premiums are usually guaranteed to stay the same (as long as you pay your premiums). 

If you’re looking for lifelong protection and to leave money behind for your loved ones after you die, a permanent life insurance plan may be ideal.

Remember, permanent insurance stays in effect throughout your life, no matter your age or health. 

Yes, there are various types of permanent policies such as whole life insurance, participating life insurance and universal life insurance. You can look through all your options with an advisor. An advisor can help you build life insurance into your overall plan. 

Get permanent life insurance from Sun Life Canada

Protect what matters most with a permanent insurance plan from Sun Life. 

  • Apply online

    You can find a new plan in three easy steps:

    1. Tell us about yourself.

    2. Select your coverage.

    3. Get a quote.

    Get started

  • Speak with an advisor

    Sun Life advisors look carefully at your specific needs to help you develop a personalized plan. They'll work with you to understand your goals and what you want to achieve. 

To find an advisor near you, enter your postal code:

Learn more about permanent life insurance from Sun Life