Evaluating Insurance Calculators from Canada’s Top Life Insurance Companies

best life insurance calculators

At the end of each of our articles, LSM invites readers to go to our various life insurance calculator pages for a free quote. We also have a Needs Analysis Calculator that lets you know how much insurance you may need based on your own personal circumstances.

However, we are not the only insurance brokerage to offer this service. Many popular insurance companies are offering their own quote pages. In fact, 58% of Generation Y uses an insurer’s website to gather information about insurance and 48% gets quotes directly from the insurer online, according to a 2011 JD Power & Associates Shopping Survey.

So, we’ve taken a look at some of the insurance quote pages offered by some of Canada’s biggest insurance companies and will give you our feedback in terms of their features and usability.

  1. TD Insurance — Life Insurance Calculator 

This calculator is clear, straightforward, and simple — especially for an Internet or life insurance layperson. Our broker Syed Raza agrees, complementing its straightforward nature, decent layout, and ease of use. But he recognizes that it’s a little dated and only asks the most basic questions.

2. RBC Insurance — Calculate Your Life Insurance Needs

This site is a little too busy. There’s a lot going on around the calculator that may distract the eye away from the calculator itself. “Good explanations of each question, but a little too wordy,” adds Raza.

3. State Farm Canada — Life Illustrated Calculator

This was absolutely one of our favourites. It makes an otherwise banal and stark process fun through funny flash animation and charming illustrations that are easy to follow — even for a techno-luddite. Though the questionnaire is long, no one will notice thanks to the highly interactive flash cartoon. Another perk is there is no math or calculation involved. State Farm will calculate the amount of insurance you need as you answer the questions. You will actually see the number rise and fall depending on your answer. Raza liked this one too, mimicking many of our sentiments by saying, “It was a cool user experience. It took long, but I didn’t notice because it was fun to complete.”  

4. Sun Life Financial — Tools & Calculators

The one thing this company has going for it is choice, as there are a number of calculators to choose from that cover a variety of financial needs. However, Syed Raza didn’t have a pleasant experience, actually, using the life insurance calculator Sun Life offers. “It was quick and easy to complete, but also boring and dated. Not very clear. For example, ‘Education fund’ should read ‘Children’s Education Fund’ for clarity’s sake,” he says.

5. BMO Insurance — Life Insurance Calculator

Though the calculator is clean-looking, it’s not particularly user-friendly. Finding your exact expenses is difficult simply by moving a sliding button. There is not a lot of explanation about the different expense categories offered and the user is pretty much on their own in using this calculator. “It has a clean layout and is very thorough,” says Raza. “The slider bar is cool, but inputting a number is much easier. Plus, I think it’s not a good idea for customer psyche. For example, when i scroll to $60k for income or $100k for savings, it’s only, like, 2% of the bar, which makes me feel like a broke bum.”

6. Manulife — CAA Term Life Insurance Calculator

Though labelled a calculator, this one is more of a quote page. There aren’t a lot of options or variables to input and it’s all based on where you live. Though it looks clean layout-wise, this one feels like a much more “one size fits all” scenario. “This is a CAA plan underwritten by Manulife. It’s a nice quote page, though,” says Raza.

7. Manulife InsureRight

Manulife’s InsureRight page offers both a calculator and a quote page. The calculator has a space for both you and your partner. There are simple explanations and straightforward fields to fill out. It’s quite long, but also very simple and easy to understand. “It’s a little too long,” says Raza.

8. Industrial Alliance Your Life Insurance Requirements

Extremely simple to the point of sparsity, there are actually only six fields to fill out, so you can complete this extremely fast without much effort. “This one is very basic and only really calculates need based on loss of income, not the other needs, such as medical expenses, education fund, final expenses, estate taxes, legacies, et cetera. The layout is dated and boring,” says Raza.

We also asked LSM senior broker William Shung what he thought of these calculators, and he decided to address them as a whole. “They are all basically the same,” he says. “[The companies] try to make it as simple as possible to encourage people to use it.”

Shung’s only real issue is the name of these calculators. “The message they want to get through is Find out how much insurance you need for your financial protection. Most companies use the word ‘calculator.’ I would prefer to call it a ‘needs analysis.’

LSM Insurance has its own Needs Analysis Calculator, and we encourage you to use it. If you’d like further assistance, please call us at 1-888-899-4849.

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  • Brian So
    December 2, 2013 at 8:24 pm

    Nice comparison of the types of calculators offered by carriers.

    I would add that PPI Solutions’ needs analysis software is the best I’ve used so far. It takes the whole family into consideration so that you know how much insurance is needed for both spouse, allows you to adjust the income needed for the survivor, allows you to adjust the projected interest and inflation rate, and more.

    • LSM Insurance
      December 3, 2013 at 6:53 am

      Thanks Brian. We have not seen this software good to know.

  • Ross Morton
    November 24, 2013 at 9:43 am

    From a risk appraiser or underwriter’s perspective they are indeed rudimentary calculators versus the true needs analysis a good financial advisor may use as a starting point in assessing the proper amount of insurance and types for their client. Good article

    • LSM Insurance
      November 24, 2013 at 1:50 pm

      Thanks Ross. I appreciate your insights!

  • Ami Maishlish
    November 22, 2013 at 11:49 am

    I respectfully disagree with this comment:

    “Shung’s only real issue is the name of these calculators. “The message they want to get through is Find out how much insurance you need for your financial protection. Most companies use the word ‘Calculator.’ I would prefer to call it a ‘Needs Analysis.'”

    These basic calculators are just that, partial needs calculators with the key word being “calculator”. These calculators merely do what a calculator does – calculate a figure based on figures input by the user, full stop.

    Calculation to arrive at a gross figure is just that a calculation. Analysis, on the other hand, involves far more than a mere elementary calculation. Analysis also requires knowledge and expertise of a professional advisor.

    To suggest that a mere calculator should be named as “Needs Analysis” is to suggest that there is no need for a professional advisor to do a proper Needs Analysis. As a consumer, I would strongly disagree with such a suggestion!

    The proper name for these calculators would be “Preliminary estimated needs calculator”, with “preliminary” and “calculator” being the key words.

    As to premium estimators (so called “online quotations”), I believe that consumers deserve clearer wording. For example, a heading “Smoker?” or “Do you smoke” with the options for a “yes” or no could easily mislead a proud former smoker who quit the habit several months ago and who would proudly and honestly respond “No” (and would thereby likely end up with ‘low ball’ quote). Clearly, consumers cannot be expected to know the tobacco related table classification for each and every product offering on the market!

    • LSM Insurance
      November 22, 2013 at 12:06 pm

      Thanks Ami. Agreed – people are best served by meeting with an advisor. Having said that more and more consumers are using on-line needs calculators and basing their purchase decision on the number these calculators compute.

      This is very prevalent among the direct sellers who continue to try and push their products with quick fixes and bypassing professional advice. Some direct sellers do not even offer any kind of needs analysis just a drop down on coverage amounts. Buying life insurance requires thought and analysis it’s not like buying a loaf of bread.

  • Jack
    November 11, 2013 at 5:53 pm

    I didn’t see Transamerica’s on the list.

    • LSM Insurance
      November 11, 2013 at 7:35 pm

      Thanks for the note Jack. We on picked the top 8 life insurance calculators.

  • Life Insurance Calculator
    November 9, 2013 at 4:29 pm

    Thanks for the information on the life insurance needs calculators you reviewed. It’s important to point out to consumers looking for life insurance to determine their life insurance needs before buying a policy. Why buy more life insurance than you need? But, it’s important to have enough life insurance to meet your goals for your policy.

    • LSM Insurance
      November 10, 2013 at 2:52 pm

      Thanks for the note. Which calculator did you find the best?

  • Todd
    November 9, 2013 at 1:07 pm

    I like the State Farm life insurance calculator as well. Not Surprising they have great commercials.