Life insurance premiums and the coronavirus

What are my options if I can’t pay my life insurance premium because of the coronavirus?

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Typically, life insurance policies expire if you don’t pay your premium within the grace period, which lasts about a month. But with the onset of the coronavirus, many insurers are extending the deadline or offering flexible payment plans to help policyholders.

What if I can’t pay my life insurance premium on time?

Many life insurance polices include a grace period where your policy will remain in effect if you don’t pay your premiums. That means your beneficiaries would get the death benefit if you passed away, even if your payment was a little late. Read through your policy to see of it includes any such grace period.

How does life insurance work?

What happens if I don’t make a payment within the grace period?

In normal circumstances, your policy would lapse — leaving you without life insurance coverage.

However, with the onset of the COVID-19 outbreak, many life insurance providers are offering payment relief measures for their policy holders. Even if your policy doesn’t explicitly include a grace period under normal circumstances, it’s possible you may still be able to receive help with your payments.

Insures are generally saying that they’ll offer help based on a case-by-case basis. So your best approach is to contact your insurance company directly.

When you reach out to your insurer, explain your financial situation — including how much of the premium you can afford to pay, or when you’ll be able to restart payments.

The coronavirus is affecting the lives of millions of Canadians, and your insurer may offer you a longer deadline or flexible payment plan based on your case.

Does life insurance cover coronavirus?

How to contact your insurance company

Try to contact your life insurance company as soon as you know you can’t pay your premiums. To offset high call volumes, most insurers have set up dedicated pages explaining how customers can get payment help during the COVID-19 outbreak.

Below is a list of some of Canada’s most common life insurance providers and the corresponding contact information.

Insurance company

Contact

Canada Life

1-888-252-1847

(If your policy was originally with Great West Life, phone 1-800-665-0551)

Manulife1-800-626-8543
Sun Life FinancialPolicy purchases through an advisor: 1-877-SUN-LIFE (1-877-786-5433)

Policy purchased online or by phone: 1-800-361-6212

Equitable Life of Canada1-800-668-4095
The Co-operators1-800-454-8061
Empire Life1-800-561-1268
RBC InsuranceSubmit an online form to have an RBC Life Insurance Advisor phone you

RBC general phone number: 1-800-769-2511

TD Insurance1-877-397-4188
BMO1-855-745-7331

If you purchased your policy through a non-BMO (independent) advisor phone 1-800-387-4483

iA Finacial Group1-844-442-4636

Is there anything I can do if my policy lapses?

Most insurers will reinstate your policy within 30 days without the need for any additional paperwork.

Once you’re in a better financial situation, and within the allowable amount of time decided by your insurer, you can take these steps:

  1. Ask your insurer for a reinstatement application.
  2. Fill out the form, and be transparent about any changes in your health and lifestyle since your original application.
  3. Schedule a medical exam, if applicable.

If your insurer approves the reinstatement request, you’ll need to pay the premiums due from the end of the grace period, any interest charged on the unpaid amount and your new premium in full. There may also be a processing fee. Keep in mind that your new premium might be higher because having a lapsed policy on your record could bump you up to a higher “risk” bracket.

But if you wait more than 30 days, you may have to go through the underwriting process again to get reinstated, or apply for a new policy.

Other ways to pay your premium

If you don’t have the cash on hand, here are some other ways to pay your premium:

    • Use a rider, if you purchased one with your policy. If you can’t work due to an injury or illness — like the coronavirus — a waiver of premium rider could step in to cover your premiums. And if you’re temporarily disabled, a disability rider might apply.
    • Withdraw from your permanent policy’s cash value. If your permanent policy has accumulated enough cash value, you may be able to dip into that to pay your premium.
    • Make the most of your dividends. Some mutual life insurance companies pay dividends to their permanent policyholders. If you’ve received dividends, consider using the money to cover your premium.

Find out what life insurance is and compare providers

Bottom line

If you’re struggling to pay your life insurance premium, reach out to your insurer — they may have guidelines in place to help you.

The COVID-19 situation is evolving every day, so stay on top of changing information about the coronavirus.

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