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20 Largest Canadian Employee Benefits Providers

Employee benefits are essential for any company's rewards. Group insurance plans are better than individual policies for cost and ease. Working with good Canadian employee benefits providers is critical to getting full, competitive coverage for your workers. This article looks at the top Canadian benefits providers in 2024 that can make customized solutions and support for nationwide organizations.

Benefits of Working with Canadian Employee Benefits Providers

There are many advantages to using Canadian benefits providers for your organization’s group insurance plans rather than buying directly from an insurance company. Some of the key benefits include:

Cost Savings

The economies of scale achieved through a group plan typically result in premiums 15 to 30 percent lower than what your employees would pay for individual policies. Canadian benefits providers have extensive experience negotiating optimal rates on your behalf by leveraging their buying power across multiple group clients.

Administrative Support

Canadian benefits providers handle a range of back-office functions from enrollment and eligibility management to billing, freeing up your HR team. They also ensure compliance with regulations and provide ongoing analysis of trends and costs. This administrative relief enables your organization to focus more on strategic initiatives.

Customization and Flexibility

Unlike direct insurers that offer set plan options, Canadian benefits providers work with you to develop programs tailored to your organization’s unique needs and budget. They facilitate adding or removing elements like health spending accounts (HSAs), employee assistance programs (EAPs), or voluntary benefits.

Focus on Employee Experience

Leading Canadian benefits providers invest heavily in digital tools, apps, and support services that enrich the employee experience. This includes help navigating coverage, locating the right care providers, and accessing value-added wellness incentives. A high-touch experience improves engagement.

By tapping the group buying power, administrative expertise, customization capabilities and service commitment of a top-tier Canadian benefits provider, your organization gains more for less. Employees get better coverage and an enhanced experience while your costs are contained.

20 Largest Employee Benefits Providers in Canada

Canada boasts many excellent employee benefits companies, but a select few lead the pack regarding innovation, flexibility, and service. Here are the top 20 Canadian group insurance benefits providers:

Sun Life Financial

Sun Life Insurance's Employee review
Sun Life Insurance’s Employee review

Overview: Sun Life Financial is an international leader in group benefits solutions with an extensive Canadian presence dating back over 150 years.

Offerings: It provides a full spectrum of coverage, including health and dental, disability, life, critical illness, and wellness programs. It also offers pension and savings plans and global employee assistance programs.

Plan Options: Gives access to the Sun Life Stop-Loss Program to self-insure benefits plans while mitigating risk. Features innovative health navigators and mobile apps.

Why They’re a Top Canadian Benefits Provider: Sun Life leverages data and analytics to provide insights that improve workforce health and benefits planning. Investments in digital tools enhance user experience.

Read Full Review : Sun Life Employee Benefits

Manulife

Manulife's Employee Benefits Review IDC
Manulife’s Employee Benefits Review

Overview: Manulife is among the largest insurance providers in Canada, offering a diverse range of financial and health products and services globally.

Offerings: Provides customized group insurance plans that bundle health and dental, life, disability income, and critical illness and accident coverage. It also offers wellness programs, travel insurance, and retirement solutions.

Plan Options: It provides access to the Absence Management Program, which is focused on mental health, accommodation, and return to work. It also offers a GroupNet HCSA.

Why They’re a Top Canadian Benefits Provider: Manulife uses innovative technology like artificial intelligence to improve underwriting and predict costs. Offers comprehensive wellness incentives and savings programs.

Read Full Review: Manulife Employee Benefits

Desjardins Insurance

Desjardins Employee benefits company review in Canada
Desjardins Employee benefits company review in Canada

Overview: Desjardins Insurance provides a full suite of group insurance and financial security products to employers and union groups across Canada.

Offerings: Health and dental, disability, life, accidental death and dismemberment, critical illness, and other group insurance products. It also offers group savings and retirement solutions.

Plan Options: Provides access to customizable group insurance packages and a health spending account. It also features the TELUS Health Virtual Healthcare app for convenient access to doctors.

Why They’re a Top Canadian Benefits Provider: Desjardins Insurance leverages its cooperative business model to invest in local communities while providing quality benefits and care.

Read Full Review: Desjardins Employee Benefits

Canada Life

Canada Life's Employee Benefits
Canada Life’s Employee Benefits

Overview: Canada Life has over 180 years of experience providing insurance and wealth management solutions in Canada.

Offerings: All standard group insurance benefits, retirement solutions, and innovative voluntary critical illness and wellness programs are offered. Digital capabilities include Plan at Work and GroupNet for Health and Dental Claims.

Plan Options: This plan Features tailored HCSA options and flexible Health Menu plans that allow employees to adjust coverage. It also offers extensive absence management services.

Why They’re a Top Canadian Benefits Provider: Canada Life provides deep analytical insights into workforce demographics, health risks and drug utilization to guide benefits planning.

Read Full Review: Canada Life Employee Benefits

Empire Life

Empire Life Employee Benefits in Canada
Empire Life Employee Benefits in Canada

Overview: Empire Life is a mid-sized Canadian insurance company that has been providing personalized group plans since 1923.

Offerings: Provides group solutions for life, critical illness, disability, vision, accidental death and dismemberment, dental, extended health benefits and employee assistance programs.

Plan Options: Gives access to Best Doctors, a second medical opinion service. Features flexible plan design and administration capabilities.

Why They’re a Top Canadian Benefits Provider: Empire Life leverages its medium size to provide responsive, high-touch employee and plan sponsor service with a local focus.

Read Full Review: Empire Life Employee Benefits

Green Shield Canada

Green Shield Canada Employee Benefits
Green Shield Canada Employee Benefits

Overview: Green Shield Canada is a not-for-profit health and dental benefits specialist providing coverage for over 1.5 million plan members.

Offerings: It provides tailored health, dental, vision, and prescription drug plans using its exclusive provider networks and pharmacy agreements.

Plan Options: Features innovative Health Assist EAP and medical case management programs. Gives access to specialty drug management services.

Why They’re a Top Canadian Benefits Provider: Green Shield Canada invests its profits into better products, member programs, and technologies instead of shareholders.

Read full review: Green Shield Employee Benefits in Canada

Wawanesa

Wawanesa Insurance Employee Benefits in Canada
Wawanesa Insurance Employee Benefits in Canada

Overview: Wawanesa is a Canadian mutual insurance company that offers life, critical illness, and disability products as part of its group benefits offerings.

Offerings: Provides customized packages tailored to organizations in heavy industry, transportation, retail, agriculture, municipalities and social services.

Plan Options: Offers online enrollment, claims tracking and management information for plan sponsors and members. Provides life insurance that continues after retirement.

Why They’re a Top Canadian Benefits Provider: Wawanesa uses a mutual structure focused on member needs, not shareholders. It also invests significantly in digital capabilities and data analytics.

Read Full Review: Wawanesa Insurance Employee Benefits

People Corporation

people corporation employee benefits in Canada review
people corporation employee benefits in Canada review

Overview: People Corporation delivers employee benefits, pension and wellness solutions to over 6,400 private, public sector and not-for-profit organizations.

Offerings: It provides group retirement, health and dental, disability, and critical illness coverage. It also offers specialty EAP and wellness services.

Plan Options: This option provides access to customized packages, such as FlexGap critical illness insurance and a group LTD buy-up option. It also offers benefits for navigation and benchmarking.

Why They’re a Top Canadian Benefits Provider: People Corporation uses data and analytics to provide insights on demographics, risks and engagement necessary for benefits planning.

Beneva

Beneva insurance employee benefits in Canada
Beneva insurance employee benefits in Canada

Overview: Beneva Insurance offers public sector employers and associations a wide range of specialized insurance and financial services products.

Offerings: Provides life, disability, critical illness, health and dental, and accident benefits plus retirement and savings plans.

Plan Options: Features unique programs like psychological health plans, educational support for plan members, and the BEST Doctors second medical opinion service.

Why They’re a Top Canadian Benefits Provider: Beneva follows a mutual ownership structure that puts clients first. It is known for excellent nationwide service to public sector organizations.

Read Full Review: Beneva Insurance Employee Benefits

Cowan

cowan employee benefits company in canada review
cowan employee benefits company in canada review

Overview: Cowan Insurance is an independent, employee-owned benefits consulting firm supporting organizations since 1953.

Offerings: Provides group life and health benefits, retirement solutions, absence management services, plus on-site clinics, EAPs and wellness programs.

Plan Options: Gives access to AIR MILES Reward Program for plan members. Features unique programs like the Student Top-Up Absence Management Program.

Why They’re a Top Canadian Benefits Provider: Cowan provides unbiased advice and customized programs focused on employees’ health and wellness. It takes a high-tech, high-touch approach.

Group Medical Services

green shield canada gsc life insurance in Canada
green shield canada gsc life insurance in Canada

Overview: GMS is a leading Canadian provider of group health and dental benefits plans with over 70 years of experience.

Offerings: Provides customized group plans covering health, dental, life, disability, and critical illness. It also offers EFAP and healthcare spending accounts.

Plan Options: It offers Group Advantage plans for small businesses and customizable options for larger groups. It uses provider networks for direct billing.

Why They’re a Top Provider: Leverages reputation for competitive rates and affordable premiums. Robust coverage for small and mid-sized employers. Simplifies benefits selection through easy enrollment and self-service. EFAP adds value.

Read Full review: Group Medical Services Employee Benefits

Co-Operators

Co-operators Employee Benefits in Canada
Co-operators Employee Benefits in Canada

Overview: Co-Operators is a leading Canadian insurance and financial services cooperative founded in 1945.

Offerings: Provides customized group plans for health, dental, life, disability, critical illness, and accident coverage. Also offers wellness programs, travel insurance, and retirement solutions.

Plan Options: Gives access to disability management services, employee assistance programs, workplace wellness initiatives, and virtual healthcare benefits.

Why They’re a Top Provider: Co-Operators is Canadian-owned with a cooperative structure focused on client wellbeing over profits. Provides strong plan sponsor support through advisors, tools, and expertise.

Read Full Review: Co-Operators Employee Benefits

Assumption Life

Assumption Life Employee Benefits in Canada
Assumption Life Employee Benefits in Canada

Overview: Assumption Life is a leading insurance provider founded in 1903 and based in Atlantic Canada.

Offerings: Provides group plans for health, dental, life, disability, and critical illness insurance. Also offers EAPs, virtual care, and benefits administration platforms.

Plan Options: Customizable plans for small, medium and large employers. Uses provider networks for direct billing convenience.

Why They’re a Top Provider: Competitive pricing for SMEs and smaller groups. Boutique-style service with experienced, dedicated account leaders. Strong reputation in Eastern Canada.

Read Full Review: Assumption Life Employee Benefits

Medavie Blue Cross

Medavie Blue Cross's Employee Benefits Company review in Canada
Medavie Blue Cross’s Employee Benefits Company review in Canada

Overview: Medavie Blue Cross is a leading Canadian not-for-profit health solutions company founded in 1943.

Offerings: Provides group health, dental, life, disability, critical illness and travel insurance. Also offers wellness programs, virtual care, and benefits administration platforms.

Plan Options: National provider networks for direct billing. Customizable plans for employers of all sizes. Extensive online self-service options.

Why They’re a Top Provider: Offers comprehensive benefits and digital enablement. Invests significantly in new technology and virtual health capabilities annually. Focus on health management and disability support

Read Full Review: Medavie Blue Cross Employee Benefits

Pacific Blue Cross

Pacific Blue Cross Employee Benefits in Canada
Pacific Blue Cross Employee Benefits in Canada

Overview: Pacific Blue Cross is the leading health benefits provider in British Columbia, founded in 1940.

Offerings: Provides group extended health, dental, life, disability, critical illness and travel insurance. Also offers wellness programs and health spending accounts.

Plan Options: Flexible and customized group plan options. Extensive provider network for direct billing.

Why They’re a Top Provider: Top reputation for service and support from local B.C. presence. Not-for-profit model provides competitive pricing. Breadth of plan offerings and convenience.

Read Full Review: Pacific Blue Cross Employee Benefits

Manitoba Blue Cross

Manitoba Blue Cross Employee Benefits in Canada
Manitoba Blue Cross Employee Benefits in Canada

Overview: Manitoba Blue Cross is a leading regional benefits provider founded in 1938 and based in Manitoba.

Offerings: Provides group health, dental, life, disability and critical illness insurance. Also offers wellness programs, travel insurance and health spending accounts.

Plan Options: Customizable group plans with extensive direct billing provider networks. Online administration tools for employers.

Why They’re a Top Provider: Local expertise and focus on Manitoba employers/workforce needs. Not-for-profit model enables competitive pricing. Award-winning service and support.

Read Full Review: Manitoba Blue Cross Employee Benefits

Equitable Life of Canada

Review of Equitable Life of Canada Employee Benefits
Review of Equitable Life of Canada Employee Benefits

Overview: Equitable Life of Canada is a leading mutual life insurer founded in 1920 and based in Waterloo, Ontario.

Offerings: Provides customizable group life, health, dental, disability, critical illness and wellness benefits. Also offers spending accounts.

Plan Options: Flexible plan design with customized coverage levels. Robust online administration tools for employers and employees.

Why They’re a Top Provider: Over 100 years of group benefits expertise. Strong focus on service and relationships. Competitive pricing and innovative offerings.

Read Full Review: Equitable Life of Canada Employee Benefits

Saskatchewan Blue Cross

Saskatchewan Blue Cross Employee Benefits in Canada Review
Saskatchewan Blue Cross Employee Benefits in Canada Review

Overview: Saskatchewan Blue Cross is a leading regional benefits provider founded in 1946 and based in Saskatchewan.

Offerings: Provides group health, dental, life, disability, critical illness, and travel insurance. Also offers wellness programs and health spending accounts.

Plan Options: Customizable group plans focused on Saskatchewan employers. Extensive direct billing provider network.

Why They’re a Top Provider: Local expertise and focus on Saskatchewan workforce needs as a not-for-profit. Highly rated service and support.

Read Full Review: Saskatchewan Blue Cross Employee Benefits

UV Insurance

UV Insurance Employee Benefits in Canada Review
UV Insurance Employee Benefits in Canada Review

Overview: UV Insurance is a leading Canadian mutual life insurer founded in 1889 and based in Quebec.

Offerings: Provides customizable group life, health, dental, disability, critical illness and wellness benefits. Also offers spending accounts.

Plan Options: Access to provider networks across Canada. Online administration tools for employers and employees.

Why They’re a Top Provider: 130+ years of group benefits expertise and financial strength. Wide range of innovative plan options and support services.

Read Full Review: UV Insurance Employee Benefits

Alberta Blue Cross

Review Alberta Blue Cross Employee Benefits in Canada
Review Alberta Blue Cross Employee Benefits in Canada

Overview: Alberta Blue Cross is a leading regional benefits provider founded in 1941 and based in Alberta.

Offerings: Provides customizable group health, dental, life, disability, and critical illness insurance. Also offers wellness programs and health spending accounts.

Plan Options: Extensive direct billing provider network in Alberta. Online administration tools for employers and employees.

Why They’re a Top Provider: Decades of local expertise and focus on Alberta employers/workforce. The not-for-profit model provides competitive pricing. Award-winning service and support.

Read Full Review: Alberta Blue Cross Employee Benefits

IA Financial Group

IA Financial Employee Benefits in Canada
IA Financial Employee Benefits in Canada

Overview: IA Financial Group is a leading insurance and financial services company based in Quebec, founded in 1892.

Offerings: Provides customizable group health, dental, disability, life, and critical illness insurance. Also offers wellness programs and virtual healthcare.

Plan Options: Access to provider networks across Canada. Innovative digital tools for employers and employees.

Why They’re a Top Provider: 130+ years of benefits expertise and financial strength. Extensive plan customization and value-added services. Top-tier customer service.

Read Full Review: IA Financial Group Employee Benefits

Critical Considerations in Choosing Canadian Benefits Providers

Selecting the right Canadian benefits provider involves evaluating several factors that influence the quality of coverage and service your organization will receive. Here are some of the most critical considerations:

Cost

Compare premiums amongst providers, but consider other cost factors like administration fees, stop-loss premiums, and commissions. Look for transparency around pricing.

Services Offered

Assess the range of insurance products (health, dental, life, disability, etc.) and value-added services (e.g. EAP, Best Doctors, health coaching) offered to determine the best fit for your needs.

Technology and Support

Evaluate member self-service technology, such as apps, provider directories, and online enrollment and claims submission capabilities. Also, consider administrative technologies for HR and analytics support. 

Ability to Customize

Review the provider’s expertise and flexibility around tailoring plans to your organization’s unique workforce, risks, culture and budget constraints.

Customer Service Reputation

Research online reviews and testimonials to determine providers’ reputation for responsive account management, employee support, and human touch.

Alignment with Company Culture and Values

Determine if the provider’s mission, vision and values align with your organizational culture. Some focus on innovation, while others prioritize advocacy.

An established track record serving similar organizations in your industry is also ideal to leverage their expertise.

By carefully assessing these key factors, you can identify the group benefits provider(s) that offer the best overall value and fit for your organization’s specific coverage needs and budget.

Benefits Options to Discuss With Your Canadian Benefits Providers

When meeting with group benefits providers, be prepared to discuss the types of insurance coverages and value-added services you want to provide employees. Outline your priorities and constraints to facilitate designing an optimal program. Key coverages to explore include:

Health and Dental

  • Scope of coverage (prescription drugs, paramedical, vision, travel insurance, etc.)
  • Cost-sharing arrangement (deductibles, co-pays, premium sharing, etc.)
  • Yearly and lifetime maximums
  • Pooling of high-cost claims like drugs
  • Adding health spending accounts

Disability Insurance

  • Short-term and long-term disability options
  • Definition of disability and earnings loss thresholds
  • Waiting periods before benefits kick in
  • Maximum benefit period
  • Taxability of benefits

Read more: Group Disability Insurance in Canada

Life Insurance

  • Flat amounts or multiples of salary formulas
  • Optional additional coverage amounts
  • Accidental death and dismemberment
  • Allowing coverage amounts to reduce at certain ages

Read more: Group Life Insurance in Canada

Retirement Benefits

  • Defined benefit or defined contribution pension
  • Group registered retirement savings plan
  • Investment and contribution options
  • Level of payroll deduction matching

Supplemental Options

  • Extending coverage to vision and dental
  • Adding employee assistance programs
  • Providing critical illness and accident insurance
  • Offering extensive wellness programming

Thinking through your organization’s key priorities around group benefits coverage in advance allows your Canadian benefits provider to structure a program that aligns with your workforce risk profile and budget constraints. Discuss where you are willing to compromise and where you are not. This facilitates getting an optimal package.

How Canadian Benefits Providers Help Small Businesses

Canadian benefits providers for small businesses are a new trend in 2024, and they offer valuable services and advantages that enable even small businesses to offer comprehensive and affordable group insurance coverage:

Group Buying Power

Providers give small firms access to discounted group insurance rates typically only available to large corporations by pooling them with other small business clients under a single plan.

Expertise

Small companies can tap into the provider’s expertise in assessing risks, modelling costs, selecting optimal carriers and designing plans that maximize value.

Administrative Relief

Providers handle the extensive administration, compliance, reporting, and vendor management required for group plans, alleviating the burden on small HR teams.

Flexibility and Customization

Small businesses get access to tailored plans that provide choice and flexibility around benefits levels and options within a controlled budget framework.

The economies of scale, management experience, regulated expertise and administrative support supplied by Canadian benefits providers enable small companies to offer significant business benefits packages to attract and retain top talent.

Why Work with Canadian Benefits Providers Over Direct Insurers?

While buying group insurance directly from a carrier is always an option, partnering with an experienced Canadian employee benefits provider offers critical advantages:

Local Expertise and Support

Canadian Benefits providers have specialized expertise in navigating provincial insurance regulations and healthcare systems. Their qualified teams are locally accessible to assist with education, enrollment, claims and service.

Help with Compliance

Providers ensure your plan meets all legal requirements while proactively advising you on regulations impacting group benefits plans. This protects your organization against liability risk.

Advocates on Your Behalf

Unlike dealing with insurers directly, Canadian benefits providers act as your advocate in resolving claims disputes and negotiating optimal rates and packages on your behalf.

Custom Tailoring

Canadian benefits providers work with your organization to develop benefit plans that match your precise specifications rather than force you to select preset carrier options.

Canadian Benefits providers aim to structure optimal packages tailored to each client’s workforce composition, corporate culture, regulations and budget constraints. Their strategic insight and custom capabilities provide advantages over dealing directly with insurance carriers.

Connecting with the Right Canadian Benefits Providers for You

Leading Canadian group benefits providers offer great coverage for businesses of all sizes. They use their large scale and expertise to provide customized plans at competitive prices. They also use data to provide helpful business insights.

To find the best benefits partner, look at their services, reputation, costs and financial strength. Pick one that understands and values your company. Good benefits keep employees happy, healthy and productive.

Get quotes from top providers like IDC Insurance Direct Canada to compare options. They are a respected company that offers tailored solutions from Canada’s best insurers. Their licensed experts provide personalized support nationwide.

Think about your workforce, culture, budget and employee needs. Partner with a top Canadian provider like IDC. This will help you attract and retain the best talent while managing costs. The right benefits partner gives your business an edge.