Frequently asked questions
Are there any changes to individual insurance claims because of COVID-19?
Clients can be confident their coverage remains the same. There are no changes to Clients’ coverage or insurance policies because of COVID-19.
Sun Life stands by the policies we’ve issued. We’ll continue to pay claims for in force policies as long as there hasn’t been misrepresentation in the application or in the evidence of insurability.
- Life insurance: Some older policies include “act of god” provisions. These do not apply to COVID-19. We’ll pay claims when death is due to COVID-19.
- Critical illness insurance: COVID-19 is not a covered illness. We’ll continue to cover Clients who suffer a covered critical illness after contracting COVID-19.
- Personal Health Insurance and Health Coverage Choice: Usually, policies cover emergency travel medical coverage for 60 days. For Clients who are out of country and delayed returning to Canada beyond their 60 day coverage date, we’ll extend individual emergency travel medical coverage until April 30, 2020. Clients should submit their claims as usual. We’ll continue to visit this time frame as the situation progresses.
- Long Term Care Insurance: We’ll continue to pay claims for Clients who meet the requirements for activities of daily living or cognitive impairment.
See the Client’s policy for details about their coverage.
Clients can refer to our dedicated page at www.sunlife.ca/covid-19 for the latest information.
- 90-day payment deferral program
newDoes the policy have to be in good standing for the client to be eligible for the 90-day premium deferral?
The 90-day payment deferral program is available to help Clients who are financially impacted by COVID-19. We are seeing requests for Clients who have already missed payments (before March) and are requesting the 90-day payment deferral. Unfortunately, for a number of these Clients, their policy has already lapsed and we can’t offer them a deferral unless they pay the outstanding premiums.
newDoes the 90-day payment deferral program also apply to internal replacements or conversions?
No. With an internal replacement or a policy conversion, the Client is giving up their inforce policy for a new policy. In order for a new policy to take effect, the Client must pay a premium. The 90-day payment deferral program only applies to policies that were in force as of March 15, 2020.
newMy Client was approved to have their policy reinstated but now can’t afford the back premiums. Can they have the 90-day deferral due to financial hardship as a result of COVID-19?
Unfortunately, we can’t reinstate the policy until the Client repays all of the premiums due. If the back premiums haven’t been paid, then their policy remains in a lapsed position. If the Client’s policy wasn’t inforce on March 15th, we are unable to provide them with the option to defer their premiums for 90 days.
newFor participating life insurance, are Plus premium benefit premiums included in the amount being deferred?
If the par policy was purchased before 2017, the Plus premium benefit amount will be included in the premiums deferred. This is because Clients must specifically request in writing to discontinue their Plus premium benefit. To help Clients, we’re including Plus premiums in the amounts being deferred. The Plus premium amounts will be included in the amount the Client will need to pay at day 90 of the premium deferral program. Since the Plus premium benefit is an optional benefit, the Client can choose at that time to discontinue the Plus premium benefit.
If the par policy was purchased in 2017 or later we will deactivate the Plus premium benefit. We’ll only include the base plan premiums and any other optional benefits in the premium deferral. This is because the post-2017 par policies give Clients more flexibility with their Plus premium benefits. At day 90 of the 90-day premium deferral program, the Client can choose to re-activate their Plus premium and pay all of the Plus premium amounts due.
In both cases (for par policies issued before 2017 and after 2017) the Client has up to two years to reactivate their Plus premium benefit without providing evidence of insurability.
newWhy did my Client receive a lapse notice if they have requested the 90-day premium deferral?
Once a Client’s policy goes on premium deferral, we are making every attempt to stop notices. These notices are produced automatically from our systems and due to timing, we’re not always able to stop them from being produce and mailed. As a result, some clients who are on deferral may still receive a lapse notice. Please let these Clients know that their policy is on deferral and they’ll receive a letter soon to confirm.
newThe Client is on premium deferral, why am I receiving a reinstatement notice?
Unfortunately, we weren’t able to stop the reinstatement notices we send you once a Client has elected to defer their payments for 90 days. You can disregard these notices at this time.
It’s important to remember that the letter we’re sending Clients who choose to defer their premiums for 90 days also serves as a lapse notice (i.e. it notifies them that their policy will lapse if they don’t pay or don’t make arrangements to pay the outstanding premium due). We won’t be sending out another reinstatement notice at that time.
Personal Health Insurance:
newAre Personal Health Insurance (PHI) policies eligible for the 90-day payment deferral program?
No. We are offering a 60-day payment deferral for April and May payments. That means the April payment will be due in June and the May payment will be due in July.
newWhy is there only a 60-day deferral available with PHI?
PHI Clients will continue to be able to make claims during the deferral period. With Life and CII if a Client makes a claim during the deferral period, we will deduct the outstanding premiums due from the benefit paid. This option is not available with PHI.
newIs Sun Life going to offer premium credits for PHI, due to some services being unavailable right now due to COVID-19?
No. The premiums paid for an individual health and dental policy pay for the coverage for the whole year’s benefit amount. They are not set as monthly maximums. This means that once things go back to normal, the insured will be able to obtain services for the entire covered amount for the benefit year.
What happens if a client dies after the 90-day payment deferral period?
If the Client has arranged to repay the premium amount due, we’ll pay the beneficiaries the death benefit, less the outstanding premiums.
If the Client does not repay the premiums or arrange to repay the premiums, the policy will lapse and there would be no death benefit payable.
Will we spread the deferred payments over the remainder of the policy premium payment schedule? For example, if the Client defers $500/month over the next three months for their 20-pay plan and they’re in the 5th year of the policy, will the $1,500 due be spread over the next 15 years?
No. We can’t defer repayments over the life of the contract. We are working on solutions that we may be able to offer Clients if they aren’t able to repay the full amount in 90 days. We will let you know what these possible solutions will be in the coming weeks.
Will Sun Life pay a claim if the Client dies while we’re deferring their premiums?
Yes, we will. One of the reasons we’re offering this exception process is to help Clients keep their valuable life and health benefit intact. Any payment due under the premium deferral exception process will be deducted from any benefit paid during that time or until the premiums are repaid.
Will we be sending lapse notices to clients in the mail during the 90-day premium deferral period?
We won’t be sending our usual lapse notice. Instead, the client will receive a letter letting them know that their policy premiums are being deferred for 90 days and that if we don’t receive repayment (or they haven’t made arrangements for payment) at the end of the 90 day deferral their policy may lapse.
If the Client hasn’t paid for the policy after the 90-premium deferral period, will the policy lapse?
Yes, if the Client hasn’t repaid the premiums due or arranged to repay the premiums due, the policy will lapse.
If the Client wants to reinstate their policy in the future, what will the date of lapse be?
The lapse date will be 31 days after the Client’s last premium payment. We won’t be taking the deferred payments into account to extend the lapse date.
Will my commissions be impacted if a Client doesn’t repay the premiums due after the 90-day premium deferral and lapses their policy?
Yes. If the Client doesn’t repay the premiums due, and we paid you commissions during the 90-day deferral period, we’ll charge back your commissions to the date the policy would have lapsed if the Client hadn’t qualified for the 90-day deferral period.
Are business owner Clients eligible?
Yes. If a business owner Client is experiencing financial hardship due to COVID-19, they will also be offered the opportunity to defer their payments for 90 days.
Are there any exceptions to premium amounts for the 90-day deferral?
At this point, we are not placing any restrictions on the amount of the premium that can be deferred. The only restriction is that annual premiums will be changed to monthly during the 90-day deferral.
Can a claim be submitted while the policy is on the 90-day deferral?
Yes it can. One of the main reasons for offering this exception process is to help Clients keep their valuable life and health benefit intact.
Can I submit a request on behalf of my client?
Yes. Simply call the Client Care Centre.
Client Care Centre: 1-877-SUN-LIFE (1-877-786-5433)
Advisor Service Centre: 1-800-800-4786
Do I need to circle back with the Client in 90 days to restart premium payments?
No. We will contact Clients the premium deferral to specifically discuss their repayment options.
How do Clients apply?
A Client can call the Client Care Centre or can ask you to request this on their behalf.
How do Clients qualify?
When a call is made to the CCC, you or the Client, will be asked the following:
“Can you confirm which of the following reasons, if any, apply:
- a lay-off or job loss,
- or absence from work due to fulfilling caregiver needs of a child or family member with COVID-19”.
If the reply indicated their financial hardship is due to one of the above reasons, they will be offered a premium deferral exception for 90 days.
How does the premium deferral work?
Those paying monthly
If the Client is making their payments monthly, we will ask if they would like to defer payments for 90 days. If the Client says yes, the Client Care Representative will transfer them to the Resolution Care Manager. They will put the policy on payment deferral for 90 days and will let the Client know they will be contacted to discuss repayment options.
Those paying annually
If the Client is making their payment annually, and their payment date is within 30 days of the call, we will first ask them if a change to a monthly payment option, by itself, will help with their financial hardship. If switching to monthly payments will help ease the Client’s financial hardship without a deferral, then we will change the premium payment option to monthly.
If switching to monthly payments alone isn’t enough, then we will offer to defer monthly payments for 90 days. In this case, we will change the premium payment option from annual to monthly. If this works for the Client, the Client Care Representative will transfer them to the Resolution Care Manager. They will put the policy on payment deferral for 90 days and will the Client know they will be contacted to discuss repayment options.
If the Client is paying annually and their payment is not due in the next 30 days, we will ask them to call back when their policy anniversary is within 30 days.
Is the policy still inforce during the premium deferral exception period?
Yes it is.
The 90-day payment deferral begins on the date you or the Client calls in to request the deferral because of financial hardship due to COVID-19.
The following are a few examples to illustrate the expectations at day 90 so that you can inform Clients.
Jane, a female non-smoker, age 35 has a Sun Term policy for $500,000. Her monthly premium is $22.50. Her monthly pre-authorized payment date is the 3rd. You call in on her behalf on March 31 to request that we defer her payments for 90 days.
The following is what will happen:
Mark, a male non-smoker age 55, has a Sun Permanent Life II 10-pay policy for $250,000. His monthly premium is 979.88. His monthly pre-authorized payment date is April 15. You call in on his behalf on April 3 to request that we defer his payments for 90 days.
The following is what will happen:
Mary, a craft store owner, non-smoker age 30, has a par policy for $250,000. Her annual premium is $3,200. Her policy anniversary is April 20. She calls the call centre on April 15 asking what relief she can get as her business has been impacted and she is experiencing financial hardship due to COVID-19.
First, Mary is offered the option to switch her premiums from annual to monthly. The monthly premium is $288.00 and her first monthly payment will be on April 20. Unfortunately, this does not meet her needs, as she doesn’t have any income right now.
In order to defer her payments for 90 days, we will switch her payment option to monthly and defer those monthly payments for 90 days.
The following is what will happen:
We want to ensure Clients understand the 90-day premium deferral and what it will mean in the future. We’ll send them a letter to let them know we are deferring their payments for 90 days and the amount that they’ll need to pay at the end of the 90 days.
We are working on options to assist Clients with repayment of premiums and will communicate those to you in the coming weeks.
What happens at the end of the 90-day payment deferral?
At the end of the 90-day payment deferral, we’ll ask the Client to repay the premiums due.
What happens with Universal Life policies?
With Universal Life policies, the Client may be making payments into the policy that are higher than the cost of insurance (COI) associated with the policy. If the Client requests a payment deferral, the same rules apply as above. The only difference is that if there is fund value in the policy, the COI will continue to be deducted from the fund value. In this case, the Client will not be asked to repay anything at the end of the 90 days if the current fund value is sufficient to keep the policy in force.
If the policy is minimum funded , we will defer payment of the COI for 90 days. The Client will be asked to repay the deferred COI at that the end of the 90 day period .
What is a premium deferral exception?
In an effort to assist Clients directly impacted by COVID-19 we are offering to make an exception to defer their individual life and health insurance payments for 90 days. We will contact Clients on day 80 to make arrangements for repayment of the premiums due.
What products are included in this exception process?
All individual life and health products, with the exception of Personal Health Insurance are eligible for this exception, provided they were in force as of March 15, 2020.
Personal Health is not being included at this time. However, we will look at exceptions on a case-by-case basis.
Will Clients be charged interest on the 90 -day payment deferral?
No they will not be charged interest during the 90 -day payment deferral period.
Will I still get paid commission during the deferral period?
You will continue to be paid during the 90 -day deferral period for the following products:
- Participating Whole Life
- Permanent Life
- Critical Illness Insurance
- Long Term Care Insurance
For Term policies where the premium is being deferred for 90 days, your commission is also being deferred until the Client repays the premiums due. We know that this is not an ideal situation and are currently investigating
Will the face or benefit amount be affected?
Yes, it will. Any payment due under the premium deferral exception process will be deducted from any benefit paid during that time or until such time as the premiums are repaid.
For Term, Permanent Life and Participating whole life policies the premiums due will be deducted from the death benefit if a claim is made.
For Universal Life, if the COI is deducted from the fund value, the deferred payments will not be deducted from the death benefit. Universal Life policies that are minimum funded will have COI due and those COIs will be deducted from the death benefit.
If the Client makes a claim for a Critical Illness Insurance benefit (including ROPD and ROPC)premiums due will be deducted from any of these benefits paid.
- 90-day payment deferral repayment program
Why is the default repayment option to spread the payments over 12 months?
The reason we set this up as the default is to make it easier for Clients to repay their deferred payment amount. We wanted to make it easier and more affordable for Clients to keep their valuable insurance coverage during this unprecedented time. We hope allowing Clients to repay their deferred payment amount over 12 months (rather than all at once) will make it easier and more affordable for them to keep their valuable insurance coverage during this unprecedented time.
The Client wants to start repaying their deferral payments spread out over 12 months. What do I need to do?
Neither you nor the Client need to do anything. We wanted to make this easy. Spreading the deferred amount over 12 months is the default option and we’ll apply this for all Clients in the deferral program.
When will the Client’s repayment start?
The repayment will start on the PAC date immediately following the 90-day deferral. Some Client letters may have shown a different repayment date than their usual PAC date. This is because, originally, we were planning for a lump sum repayment. Now that we’re spreading it over 12 months, the deferred amount will be added to their PAC – interest free.
The Client asked for a 90-day deferral, but 4 months was actually deferred. Why?
In some cases, Clients will have 4 months of deferral because of the timing of when they applied for the 90-day deferral, and their PAC date.
Can the Client pay everything back now?
Yes. We’ll treat this as an exception. If the Client wants to repay in one lump sum, you can request this on the Client’s behalf by calling the COVID-19 repayment team at 1-888-999-2068. They’ll set up a special withdrawal for the outstanding balance. The Client’s payments will restart on their usual PAC date.
The Client was paying annually and then switched to monthly for the 90-day deferral. Can they stay on monthly and have the repayment spread over 12 months?
Yes. Leaving the Client’s payment as monthly and spreading the repayments over 12 months is the default repayment option. There’s nothing you or the Client need to do to set this up.
The Client was paying annually and then switched to monthly for the 90-day deferral. Can they repay their full annual amount now?
Yes. We’ll treat this as an exception. If a Client wants this option, you can request this on their behalf by contacting the COVID-19 repayment team at 1-888-999-2068. For all policies other than universal life insurance, the annual payment will be as of the policy anniversary date. For universal life policies, the annual payment will be current dated.
Will all Clients on payment deferral receive a repayment letter?
Yes. We’ll let Clients know that spreading the deferred amount over 12 months is the default option for repayment.
The 12-month repayment plan doesn’t meet the Client’s needs. What should I do?
We designed this repayment option to meet most Clients’ needs. We understand some Clients will be looking for alternatives. In this case, we suggest you work with the Client on a proposed solution and then call the COVID-19 repayment team at 1-888-999-2068 with a proposed alternative arrangement. This team will assess if we can accommodate the proposed arrangement or some other alternative repayment option for the Client.
The Client isn’t returning to work and can’t afford to pay for their policy, or the deferred amount. Can they have another 90-day deferral?
Unfortunately, we can’t extend the deferral period. However, you can contact the COVID-19 repayment team at 1-888-999-2068 to discuss if there are any other options for the Client. For example, if there is cash value in the Client’s policy it might be a good time to use those values to pay for premiums.
Can the Client use the cash value of their policy to repay the amount they owe?
Yes, Clients can use the cash value of their policy to help repay the deferred amount. We’ll handle this as an exception. If a Client wants to do this, then you can request this on their behalf by calling the COVID-19 repayment line at 1-888-999-2068.
Will we waive interest if the Client chooses to use an Automatic Premium Loan (APL) to repay the deferred payment amount?
Unfortunately, we can’t waive Automatic Premium Loan interest associated with deferred payment amounts. If the Client doesn’t want to pay interest on the deferred amount, we suggest they use the 12-month repayment option.
Can the Client transfer money from another policy to repay the deferred payments?
No, not directly. However, if the Client wants to use the cash value from another policy to repay the deferred premiums, they can request a cash withdrawal from that policy. Once the funds are deposited to their bank account, they can use those funds to repay the deferred premiums.
Can the Client decrease their coverage amount to reduce their premiums over the next 12 months?
Yes. The Client will still have to repay the premiums due on the insurance amount that was in force while their premium payments were being deferred, even if they choose to decrease the coverage amount. We hope many Clients won’t have do this, which is why we are spreading the payments over 12 months. We hope to help Clients keep their valuable coverage in force.
Does the Client have to repay the deferred payments if they choose to convert their term policy to a new permanent policy?
Yes. At the time of conversion, the Client will need to pay the deferred repayment amount in order to have their new policy issued.
Why aren’t all policies eligible for the 12-month repayment amount?
If the Client’s policy is a term policy that’s renewing in the next 12 months, the Client will need to repay the deferred premiums before the renewal date. Depending on the renewal date, the Client could have from 2 to 11 months to repay the deferred premiums.
There are some policies with contractual premium changes on a policy anniversary. For these policies, we’ll spread the repayment up to the policy anniversary, and the Client will have less than 12 months to repay.
Will I get commissions paid on the repayment amount that’s spread over 12 months?
You won’t be paid on the deferral repayment amount if you were already paid for these amounts while the policy was on deferral. This includes the following policies:
- Participating whole life
- Permanent life
- Critical illness insurance
- Long term care insurance
You’ll receive commissions on the repayment amounts as they are paid for term policies.
- Term Renewal Extensions
newWhat do we do if the Client’s term policy is renewing during COVID- 19 and they can’t decide what to do with their policy?
We understand the COVID-19 pandemic is affecting the lives of Clients. We are working hard to help Clients keep their valuable life and health insurance coverage in place.
If a Client’s term life insurance policy is renewing between March 15 and May 31, 2020 and in working with you they need more time to make a decision about what they want to do with their term policy, we’ll give them a 6-month extension on the renewal date. At the new renewal date the Client’s premium will automatically increase to the new premium.
This exception is available to Clients (including business owners) experiencing financial hardship because of the COVID 19 pandemic due to:
- lay-off or job loss
- the need to be absent from work while fulfilling caregiver needs (childcare or family member with COVID-19).
After you have talked to the Client, if a term renewal extension is needed and the Client meets the eligibility criteria above, please call the call center.
newDoes this apply to all Clients who have a term policy renewing between March 15 and May 31, 2020?
Yes, this is available to Clients who need more time to make a decision about what to do with their term policy. For example, Clients planning to convert their policy to a permanent plan or go through underwriting to replace their current term policy with a new one may need the extra time.
newThe Client is paying annually for their term policy. Can they have a term renewal extension?
Yes. In order for a Client who is paying annually for their term policy to have a renewal extension we will need to change the premium mode to monthly. They will have the pre-renewal premium until the new renewal date (six months from their original renewal date) at which time it will automatically increase. If they do not currently have pre-authorized chequing (PAC) set up, we will send them the forms for the term renewal extension to apply.
newIf the Client is on premium deferral and their policy is going to renew, can they have a renewal extension?
Yes. If the Client’s policy is going to renew between March 15 and May 31, 2020, and they have qualified for a premium deferral, they can also have a renewal extension. Clients will have to pay (or make arrangements to pay) the premiums due under the 90-day deferral program at the end of the 90 days. They will continue to pay the lower pre-renewal term premium until the new renewal date, which will be 6 months after their original renewal rate.
The following is an example of how this would work.
newMy Client cancelled their term policy on April 3, 2020 which was the date of the renewal. Can they reinstate their policy for the six-month renewal extension.
No. If a Client has already lapsed or cancelled their term policy at renewal they are not eligible for this program. This program is available for Clients that want to convert or replace their term policy and need a little more time to do this.
newDoes this apply to critical illness insurance coming up for renewal?
No. We can’t offer renewal extensions on critical illness insurance policies because of the product design and integrated features such as Return of Premium on Cancellation and Return of Premium on Death. It’s important to note that increases at renewal for critical illness insurance policies are typically lower than increases at renewal for term life insurance policies.
- newUnderwriting and Medical Requirements
- What do I need to know about the temporary requirements?
The key things you need to know about the temporary requirements are:
- The new guidelines apply to medically standard cases
- Medically rated cases will not benefit from these new guidelines
- The changes are effective on pending cases and new applications
- Underwriters are working hard at revisiting pending cases to see if this new rule can apply
- Are the increased non-medical limits permanent?
No they are not. The increase of the non-medical limits for life insurance is an interim measure due to the COVID-19 situation. This interim measure will allow us to consider more cases without blood, urine and vitals. A step we are taking to allow more Canadians get the coverage they need and to make the underwriting process easier for you and the Clients already difficult time.
- Will labs still be required for some life insurance applications that fall into this new increased non-medical limits?
Yes. There may be instances where more underwriting requirements, including blood, urine and vitals, may be required. The Client’s medical history will be driving those decisions. It is important to note, that the Underwriter may request an APS to try to get what they need to make a final medical decision. If the APS does not prove to be an option depending on the Clients history, labs may be required.
- How will the need for an APS or any other requirement be communicated to the advisor?
A notification will be sent via the Advisor Site, once the underwriter determines that more evidence is required.
- Does the temporary increase to non-medical limits apply to life insurance applications already pending?
Yes. Our Underwriting team is currently working hard at reviewing these pending applications to determine if the case can be considered under this temporary limit. The Underwriter will communicate the decision once the review has been completed.
- What is being done for life insurance application with a face amount over $2,000,000?
The assigned Underwriter is proactively looking for ways to make a decision to issue coverage for the amount requested using other underwriting evidence we are able to obtain, such as an APS.
- Are the increased non-medical limits for life insurance based on age nearest or attained age?
Age nearest, this is in keeping with the regular life insurance underwriting requirements chart which is also age nearest.
- Does the temporary increase to non-medical limits apply to Critical Illness insurance?
No. The temporary changes are specific to life applications at this time, however we are actively looking for solutions for Critical Illness cases such as our May 7th announcement titled: Blood and vitals no longer required for Sun CII cases between the ages of 41 and 50.
- Do the increased non-medical limits include the total amount of life insurance with all insurers in the past 12 months?
The limits include total amount applied for with Sun Life in the past 12 months. We may ask for additional evidence if the client has recently applied for or received coverage with another carrier in the last 12 months.
- What if I have a Client age 35 wanting $4 million. Can I apply for $2 million with Sun Life and the other $2 million with another carrier to forgo the blood and vitals?
No. This is not a best practice we encourage. If the only reason for the split in coverage is to forgo the blood and vitals, we will not be able to proceed without them.
- What happens if my client is a non-standard risk?
We will proactively look for ways to make decisions to issue coverage for the amount requested using other underwriting evidence we are able to obtain, such as APS.
- In the communication, it states that the changes apply to cases nearing the expiry of the temporary insurance coverage. What is meant by this?
On May 7th we announced the Temporary Insurance Contract period was increased to 150 days. For those cases that are now approaching expiry (>120 days) we will prioritize the review of these cases and will contact you to discuss options for your client.
- What do I need to know about the temporary requirements?