The largest insurance companies in Canada hold combined assets of almost $2.6 trillion, indicating an industry that is on the path to continued growth, despite the challenges the sector faces. These insurers also registered a combined $227 billion in gross written premiums (GWP), an 11% rise from last year’s $204 billion. Unsurprisingly, most of these companies anticipate a rosy outlook for their businesses this year.

Here, Insurance Business gives you a rundown of the different policies these insurers offer and highlights some key figures from their latest annual reports. For Canadians who are searching for a reliable and stable partner for their coverage needs, this article can serve as a useful source. Insurance professionals can also share this piece with their clients to help them gain some industry knowledge that can guide them in their decision… and maybe make some decisions of their own about where they may want to work!

Here are the 5 largest insurance companies in Canada ranked on total assets. The list also includes their GWP from the latest financial year.

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Manulife is not only Canada’s largest insurance company in terms of total assets, it also ranks among the world’s top 10 in the category. Apart from insurance products, the Toronto-based insurance giant offers financial advisory and wealth and asset management services for individuals, groups, and organizations. The insurer has offices across Canada and has a global reach spanning the US – primarily as John Hancock – Europe, and Asia.

Manulife boasts a workforce exceeding 40,000, and a business network consisting of 116,000 agents and thousands of distribution partners, catering to more than 34 million customers worldwide. It also holds $1.3 trillion in assets under management and administration, which include total invested assets of $400 billion and segregated funds net assets of $300 billion, according to its latest annual report.

Manulife’s gross written premiums dipped slightly from $44.3 billion from the previous year. The insurer trades under MFC on the Toronto, New York, and Philippine stock exchanges, and as 945 in the Hong Kong stock exchange.

Recently, the life insurance behemoth rolled out a policy combined with a health and wellness program, called Manulife Vitality, which rewards policyholders for adopting active lifestyles. Through the program, clients can access a range of wellness and prevention choices, items from popular retailers, and premium reductions. Microsoft Customer Story-Manulife puts customers first and drives  innovation using Microsoft cloud solutions

Great-West Lifeco

Total assets: $701.4 billion
Gross written premiums: $64.7 billion
Headquarters: Winnipeg, MB

Great-West Lifeco tops all insurance companies in the list when it comes to GWP, posting an almost 13% rise in written premiums from $57.4 billion last year. The insurer is a subsidiary of investment giant Power Financial Corporation.

Great-West Lifeco’s portfolio consists of the following:

Life and health insurance products
Reinsurance products
Retirement and investment services
Wealth management services

The company employs about 31,000 staff and boasts a network of over 234,500 advisors, serving more than 38 million clients in Canada, Europe, and the US. The firm’s total assets jumped 11% from $630.5 billion last year. According to its latest financials, its total assets under management was worth slightly over $1 trillion while assets under administration reached almost $2.5 trillion.


Total assets: $407.1 billion
Gross written premiums: $12.2 billion
Headquarters: Lévis, QC

Besides being among the largest insurance companies in Canada, Desjardins functions as a financial services cooperative and is the biggest federation of credit unions – also called caisses populaires – in North America. The insurer boasts the largest regional presence of any financial institution in Québec, as well as a strong presence in Ontario. In these two provinces, the firm has 195 participating caisses. It also has 412 accredited trainers from 114 partner organizations across the country.

Desjardins has around 58,700 employees and nearly 2,460 directors in the caisse network. It serves more than 7.5 million clients and members. The insurer’s annual report shows that its total assets climbed 2.5% from $397.1 billion while GWP rose 5.2% from $11.6 billion last year.

To date, the company has invested almost $1.7 billion in the renewable energy infrastructure sector. Meanwhile, through its GoodSpark Fund, which supports economic, social, and environmental initiatives in communities, Desjardins has already pledged $161 million of the $250 million in total funding to 726 development projects.

Desjardins announces new initiatives to help individuals and businesses in  light of Quebec's fragile economic recovery

Sun Life

Total assets: $330.9 billion
Gross written premiums: $29.1 billion
Headquarters: Toronto, ON

Sun Life ranks third among the largest life insurance companies in Canada, trailing only Manulife and Canada Life. It is also one of the biggest life insurers in the world, operating in 26 countries, including:

Hong Kong
United Kingdom
United States

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Fairfax Financial

Total assets: $92.1 billion
Gross written premiums: $27.6 billion
Headquarters: Toronto, Canada

Fairfax Financial is a holding company behind some of the insurance industry’s leading brands not just in Canada but also globally, including:

Allied World
Brit Group
Crum & Foster
Northbridge Financial
Odyssey Group
Zenith National

Fairfax Financial offers a range of property and casualty insurance and reinsurance products, and investment services. It employs about 47,000 staff. The company’s annual report shows that its total assets dropped 17% from $111.5 billion while GWP jumped more than 15% from $23.9 billion.

Fairfax Financial - Wikipedia

By Aban

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