Last updated: June 1, 2022

What is health insurance?

Health insurance is a policy or contract that gives you, the insured person, financial coverage to help pay for health-care needs. Depending on your policy, the insurance company pays for your covered health-care expenses. You pay the insurance company a monthly premium or fee.

In Canada, some of your health-care needs are already covered by your provincial or territorial plan. But it’s likely that government health care won’t cover all the medical, dental, or other health-care costs you might face throughout your life. Health insurance can help you cover these costs.

What are the different types of health insurance?

Sun Life offers four kinds of health insurance to Canadians and people living in Canada:

Our health insurance products

Personal health insurance

Helps pay for health-care expenses not covered by your provincial/territorial or employer plan.

Disability insurance

Helps replace part of your income if you can't work.

Critical illness insurance

Helps cover the costs of coping with and recovering from a covered critical illness.

Long-term care insurance

Helps cover the cost of care for you or a loved one over an extended period.

Need help figuring out what’s right for you? Talk to a Sun Life advisor. Our advisors look carefully at your specific needs to help you figure out what type of insurance is right for you. To find an advisor near you, enter your postal code.

Buy health insurance online

You can buy personal health insurance and/or critical illness insurance online. All you need to do is:

  1. Tell us about yourself.
  2. Choose your coverage.
  3. Get a quote.

Frequently Asked Questions

Personal health insurance is ideal for Canadians, or those living in Canada, if you:

  • are a small business owner, self-employed or a contract worker, or
  • don't have group insurance at work, or
  • are looking to top up your group benefits with additional insurance coverage.  

Disability insurance is ideal for working-age Canadians, or those living in Canada, if you can’t afford to lose your regular income if you became unable to work due to poor health.

Critical illness insurance is ideal for Canadians or those living in Canada if you want:

  • options for your care and treatment when recovering from a critical illness,
  • help protecting your assets during recovery from a critical illness, or
  • to provide financial protection so that you and your loved ones don’t have to worry about paying for all the expenses that come with a serious illness.

Our critical illness insurance calculator can help you find out how much a serious illness could cost you.

Long-term care insurance is ideal for Canadians, or those living in Canada, if you want:

  • the freedom and ability to choose the level of care you need,
  • help protecting your assets for retirement and/or to leave to your beneficiaries, or
  • flexibility and control so you won't have to rely on the government or depend on family members for your care.

You can buy health insurance to top up your group insurance plan. It can be very helpful if you have a lot of dependents who rely on you to pay for their medical and health-care expenses.

What’s more, you can also buy a type of health insurance to cover off what’s lacking in your existing group benefits. For example, your group benefits may include health and dental coverage, but doesn’t provide coverage for a critical illness. In this case, having your own critical illness insurance policy can help you pay for the expenses that may occur if you’re ever diagnosed with a serious illness.

If you’ve left your group plan with any insurance provider in the last 60 days – whether it’s with Sun Life or any other Canadian provider – you can replace your current health insurance coverage with one of our Health Coverage Choice plans. You won’t have to answer any medical questions and you won’t have a gap in coverage. Get a quote and apply online for Health Coverage Choice.

If I buy health insurance, when will I receive a payment?

Type of insurance When it pays a benefit
Personal health insurance When you have eligible health-care expenses.     
Disability insurance When you can't work (as defined by your policy).
Critical illness insurance (CII) When you're diagnosed with one of the illnesses listed in your policy.1
Long-term care insurance (LTCI) When you can't perform two or more activities of daily living. Or, when you need ongoing supervision because your mental abilities have weakened.2

1Please note that there are eligibility requirements you must meet to receive a CII benefit. This includes illnesses that have a qualifying period and/or a survival period. The qualifying period is the length of time symptoms must be present. The survival period refers to the length of time you must survive after being diagnosed with a critical illness that’s covered in your policy.

2Please note that there is a waiting period and eligibility requirements you must meet to receive an LTCI benefit.

If I buy health insurance, how will I receive a payment?

Type of insurance How it pays a benefit
Personal health insurance You or your provider will be reimbursed for eligible expenses that are submitted.     
Disability insurance You’ll get a regular monthly payment.
Critical illness insurance (CII) You’ll get a lump-sum cash payment.
Long-term care insurance (LTCI) You’ll be reimbursed for your expenses or you’ll get a regular payment to help cover the cost of care.
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Leaving your job or retiring? Replace your health insurance in minutes.

If you’re leaving a job with a group benefits plan with any provider – whether it’s with Sun Life or any other Canadian insurer – then you may qualify for a Sun Life Choices insurance plan. There’s no medical exam, and we won’t ask any health questions when you apply. Replace your health insurance in minutes. Keep you and your loved ones covered against medical expenses not covered by your provincial or territorial health care plans.

Learn more about health insurance

Are medical expenses tax deductible in Canada?

Canadians and those living in Canada may be eligible to claim a portion of their family’s health expenses and their health insurance premiums when filing their taxes.

What is insurance underwriting and how does it work?

Heard of ‘underwriting’ during your search for insurance options? Find out what it means and how you could use it to save yourself some money.