Ivari isn’t a name a lot of people are familiar with. Who are they, what do they do and how do you even pronounce their name?
These are some of the questions that come up when you mention Ivari in conversation with people outside of the life insurance industry.
The funny thing is, this powerhouse of an insurance company is connected to one of the best-known insurers in the industry. Did you know Ivari, pronounced a-var-ee, was once Transamerica Life Canada before it was acquired by the U.S. – based Wilton Re?
Yep, and it was rebranded as Ivari Canada in 2015.
If you haven’t heard of them, that’s a shame. Ivari is one of the top 15 insurance providers operating in the Canadian life insurance market.
So let’s dig into the meat of this Ivari insurance review…
If You’re Considering Ivari Insurance, You Need To Speak To an Independent Life Insurance Agent!
But before I go further, I'd like to introduce myself. My name is James Heidebrecht and I'm the founder of Policy Architects...
...AND an independent agent.
There are over 30 life insurance companies in Canada and obviously, they’re not all the same. Life insurance isn’t a one size fits all sort of deal. Which means there are nuances between the different carriers in terms of products, service, underwriting.
If you have any specific issues or health conditions, a good independent life insurance agent will know which companies will look at you most favourably. This can save you thousands of dollars over the life of a 20 or 30-year policy!
Hmmm should I really take the advice of a life insurance agent - you gotta be biased!
Everyone is biased if they are honest. To be frank though my main goal is to get you covered by the best possible company for the least amount of money. That's the beauty of working with an independent agent.
I want clients for life, not just a one-off sale. That’s a pretty shortsighted approach if you ask me. To do this our agents have to keep their fingers on the pulse of the life insurance industry.
Staying on top of current trends and developments is something every agent should do!
For example, Canada is the 2nd country in the world, after Uruguay, to legalize the recreational Marijuana nationwide. As you probably know, the manufacture, distribution, possession, and use of Cannabis are now legal across Canada! This will definitely impact life insurance rates and how marijuana use is underwritten. To find out more read my article on Marijuana and life insurance here.
Now back to Ivari!
They’re one of the companies we work with, which is why you need to read this review!
A Word or Two About Ivari Insurance
As I mentioned, Transamerica Life Canada morphed into Ivari Canada when it was purchased by Wilton Re, a large reinsurance company…
…but here’s where it gets interesting. Wilton Re was acquired by the Canada Pension Plan investment board in 2014 (not to be confused with the Canada Protection Plan).
Wilton Re has assets in excess of $22 Billion and is solidly backed by the Canada Pension Plan (CPP), one of the most well-respected pension funds anywhere. So the roots of this company are strong. Which is good news for you.
in financial circles around the world, the CPP is renowned as a smart, sophisticated global investor… We have delegations coming from all over the world here to figure out how we do it, what are the elements that make this so successful in Canada.” Mark Machin, CEO of the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board
Ivari Canada also has a whole range of life insurance products that include Term, Universal Life and Critical Illness insurance. They also recently partnered with Specialty Life Insurance (SLi) who have a new suite of simplified and guaranteed life insurance products!
Wow that's pretty impressive but I need to know more...
Of course you do. It's obvious you're doing your due diligence so let's keep going!
Ivari Insurance Financial Rating
Ivari Life insurance Company is a privately owned corporation based in Toronto. Formerly Transamerica Life Canada, it’s now owned by Wilton Re which in turn is owned by the Canada Pension Plan, one of the ten largest retirement funds in the world.
Don’t be – this just means Ivari is on a very solid financial footing.
In business for more than 80 years, Ivari Canada has approximately 500 employees, assets of $10 billion under management and net revenue of $65 million in 2017. Not too shabby!
The good news doesn’t end there:
- Fitch Ratings has given an ‘A+’ Insurer Financial Strength (IFS) to Wilton Re and Ivari insurance in 2018.
- A.M. Best has confirmed the 2018 Financial Strength Rating (FSR) of ‘A+’ (Excellent) and the Long-Term Issuer Credit Rating (ICR) of ‘A+’ of Ivari (Toronto, Ontario, Canada).
As you can see, this company has solid financials and isn't going anywhere!
Ivari Insurance Review
What Do Their Customers Think?
Ok, so a word of warning for people who rely too heavily on online reviews. People like to complain.
The sad part is they don’t share good experiences as often. So please bear this in mind when you check out the consumer reviews for ANY big life insurance company. It’s likely you will find a lot of people who are dissatisfied about something they encountered.
Ivari insurance is rated 2.6 stars out of 5 based on 27 Google reviews. It’s hard to know how much stock to put in these reviews. Unfortunately, it only takes a few one-star comments o sink your ship on Google. Ivari definitely has a few of those but they also have 5-star reviews as well.
All life insurance companies have some negative feedback. It’s normal for consumers to share mishaps rather than smooth dealings. In fact, some of the bigger companies like Sun Life seem to be able to get around the system. They don’t appear to have any Google reviews viewable online. Smart.
“Very few people write reviews. It’s about 1.5 percent, or 15 people out of 1,000,…Should we be relying on these people if we’re part of the other 985?” Caroline Beaton, Why You Can’t Really Trust Negative Online Reviews
...so what about the Better Business Bureau?
Although Ivari Canada isn’t officially accredited by the Better Business Bureau (BBB), they have a Customer Review Rating of ‘C-’.
5 complaints were registered in the last three years and the received one 1 star review.
The majority of complaints involve administration, specifically billing and collection which is pretty standard stuff when it comes to mid-size to large insurance carriers.
All of the complaints have been resolved and it should be noted that accreditation by the BBB is voluntary and fee-based.
Using customer service reviews as the only barometer for purchasing a policy isn’t the best idea. However, they shouldn’t be ignored either. My suspicion is that Ivari is going through some growing pains following its rebrand from Transamerica Life Canada.
Ivari Insurance Review - What Do Their Employees Think?
“Clients do not come first. Employees come first. If you take care of your employees, they will take care of the clients.” -Richard Branson
If you believe there’s truth in what Richard Branson says, Ivari takes care of its employees pretty well. Indeed gives them 3.8 stars out of 5 and Glassdoor 3.6 out of 5.
Thanks for pointing that out to me. You're right people do like to complain online. Let's move forward!
OK! This is always my favourite part of a review. So what does Ivari have to offer?
Ivari Insurance Review - Products
Ivari has a good product range that includes:
- Life Insurance (Permanent & Term)
- Critical Illness
- Investment Products
Ivari Insurance isn’t all over the place like some insurers. There are companies that offer everything under the sun from life insurance to travel insurance. To be quite honest this makes me nervous.
Can you really be a jack of all trades and do them all VERY well?
Anyway, this isn’t something you need to really worry about with Ivari because they don’t go too far afield with their offerings.
Ivari: "Universal Life Insurance"
Universal Life (UL) is a form of permanent life insurance that covers you until the day you die. Because it has both an insurance and an investment component, It is known as cash value life insurance.
This is Ivari’s only permanent product and as a result of their focus and specialization, it has a good reputation in the marketplace.
Universal Life Insurance is very flexible and can be customized for many different situations including an Insured Retirement Plan (IRP). An IRP is a vehicle that can be used to transfer family wealth & corporate wealth. One such corporate life insurance strategy is known as an Immediate Financing Arrangement (IFA).
If you’re interested, you can read about these strategies in my cash value life insurance post. This approach can get very complicated so it’s really important to seek the advice of an independent insurance agent to make sure that Ivari UL is the right product for you.
Check Out the Deets!
- Single life
- First to die: joint life insurance
- Last to die: joint life insurance – premiums to first death
- Last to die: joint life insurance – premiums to last death
- Single Life – $25,000
- Joint (two lives) – $100,000
- $10 Million
- Term Rider – 10, 20, or 30-year term & Level cost of Term
- Critical Illness Rider – Term 10, 20 or Term to age 65
- Children’s Insurance Rider
- AD&D (Accidental death and dismemberment)
- Payor Waiver of Premiums
- Waiver of Premium
Ivari Life Insurance: "Term Life Insurance"
…and of course, we’ve got Term Insurance. It’s the best-known and most affordable type of life insurance after all.
It provides coverage for a specific period of time, hence the word “term”. I recommend Term to clients 90% of the time because it works well. Ivari offers term life insurance for 10, 20 or 30 years periods. All Ivari term insurance has the following features:
- Level & guaranteed premiums for the length of term
- Guaranteed renewable premiums beyond the original term
- Term 10 & 20 renewable to age 80
- Term select 30 renewable at policy year 30 with level premiums for life
- Convertible to Permanent insurance up to age 71 at same underwriting class
Check Out the Deets!
- Single life
- Joint first to die
- Joint last to die
- Single Life – $50,000
- Joint (two lives) – $100,000
- $10 Million
- Term Riders (layered insurance)
- Critical Illness Rider – Term 10 or 20
- AD&D (Accidental death and dismemberment)
- Payor Waiver of Premiums
- Waiver of Premium
- Children’s Insurance Rider
Ivari also has it's own spin on Term. Let's see what makes their offerings special:
Ivari Insurance - Extra Term Features
This product is a carryover from Transamerica Life Canada and has some interesting built-in options available between year 15 and 20 of the policy:
- Select30 provides you with a reduced paid-up amount of term insurance for the remainder of your 30-year term
- SelectLIFE provides you with a reduced paid-up amount of permanent insurance for the rest of your life
- SelectValue provides you access to some cash value attributed to your policy upon written request
How does it work exactly?
So let’s take a 35-year-old female purchasing $1 million of Ivari TERMselect30 coverage at standard non-smoking rates for $103.50/ month. Did I mention Ivari’s TERMselect30 is one of the more expensive Term 30 products out there? Here’s why.
Our 35-year-old Female is now age 55 and in year 20 of her policy. If she wants, she can stop paying her premiums for good and elect to do one of 3 things.
- Select30 – take $250,000 of paid-up term insurance to age 65 (the end of her 30-year term)
- SelectLIFE – take $60,000 of paid-up permanent insurance for life or,
- SelectVALUE – get access to $4700 of cash value in her policy.
This is a cool feature if you’re looking for longer-term protection but you’re not exactly sure for how long and you want some flexibility.
Ivari Term 10 Exchange Program
Ivari’s Term 10 Exchange Program, another carryover from Transamerica Life Canada, allows current Term 10 clients to exchange their coverage for Term 20 and/ or Term 30 coverage without having to go through the application process or provide medical evidence of insurability. To be eligible, the exchange has to take place after year one of your policy and before the end of year 5.
For example, let’s say a 28 year old male wants to get as much life insurance coverage as he can for as cheap as he can. Why? He’s getting married and money’s tight. So, he gets a $1 million Ivari term 10 policy for $54 per month at standard health rates. Four years pass. Now he’s 32, married and has a new job. His wife is expecting their first child and they’re also looking at buying a home.
With Ivari’s term 10 exchange program he elects to exchange his $1 million term 10 policy for blended term. $500,000 of Term 30 and $500,000 of Term 20 provides more him with lengthier protection for his family. His new premium? $96.30 per month. No reapplying, no new blood test involved and he receives the same health classification as he did with the original policy: standard.
*NOTE: This is a common term feature with many carriers.
It’s a great option if you’re young and want the option of locking in a larger amount of coverage at low rates with the possibility of extending the term on that coverage without the hassle.
Ivari Insurance: "Critical Illness"
Critical Illness Insurance or “CI” is a terrific product!
Especially in this day and age when employer coverage is rare and/or inadequate and more people are setting off on an entrepreneurial path.
Ivari Critical Illness protection provides you with a lump-sum benefit if you’re diagnosed with a critical illness according to the definitions set forth in your policy.
Coverage lengths include Term10, Term 20 and Term to age 65. All Ivari CI policies have the following features and options:
- Traditional medical underwriting
- Covers 4 or 25 conditions (including 5 childhood illnesses)
- Term 10 & 20 renewable to age 75
- Term to 65 expires at 65
- Level premiums (costs stay the same over the length of term)
- All plans convertible to permanent plan before age 60
- Issued age – 15 days up to 65 years
- Minimum benefit $25,000
- Maximum benefit $250,000 – $2,000,000
- Available as a single or multiple life plan
- Return of Premium on Death Benefit
- Expert 2nd Medical Opinion Service (EMOS)
Ivari Critical Illness Early Detection Benefit
The Ivari CI Early Detection Benefit pays out a one-time lump sum payment if you’re diagnosed with one of the Early Detection Covered Conditions and make it past the survival period. This feature is only included with the 25-condition critical illness plans and covers the following:
- Coronary angioplasty
- Early prostate cancer
- Ductal breast cancer
- Superficial malignant melanoma
It pays out 15% of your CI benefit or $50,000, whichever is less. The early detection benefit can only be paid once and will not reduce the critical illness benefit.
Ivari Insurance - Investments
In 2012, before Transamerica Life Canada became Ivari, they made a decision to focus their business on life insurance and living benefits products (Critical Illness) moving forward. Shortly after Transamerica was rebranded as Ivari in 2015, their mutual fund business was moved to Foresters Financial, a big player in the insurance industry. This means today Foresters continues to manage those investments and provide backing for the segregated products, general accounts and corporate assets of Ivari.
Currently, Ivari insurance offers GIC’s, Annuities, Segregated Funds and guaranteed interest accounts (GIA) but it’s not something they market fervently.
Ivari Insurance Review: Underwriting
The majority of Ivari insurance products require traditional underwriting, including health questions and a paramedical exam.
However, non-medical underwriting is available for coverage amounts below $250,000 if you’re 45 or younger. This means if you’re older and/or are looking for no medical life insurance then Ivari isn’t the carrier for you.
…and yes there are reasons to consider no medical life insurance for higher face values. Call Policy Architects today if you think this may apply to your circumstances.
Ivari has 5 underwriting classifications (from highest to lowest):
- Elite non-smoker
- Preferred non-smoker
- Non-smoker (standard)
- Preferred smoker
Please note that critical illness only offers non-smoker or smoker rates.
So let's take a look at some areas where Ivari Insurance is competitive!
Cigars & Marijuana
Do you like smoking the occasional cigar? Don’t sweat it, you’re still eligible for non-smoker rates with Ivari provided you smoke one cigar or less per month and use no tobacco products.
When it comes to life insurance and marijuana, a casual pot smoker (a few joints per week), is eligible for non-smoker rates with Ivari.
Pssst there’s zero tolerance for any tobacco products mixed in with your weed. Read more about life insurance & marijuana in my article here.
Ivari & Higher Risk Life Insurance
When it comes to Ivari underwriting, independent life insurance agents in the know have a secret…
Ivari has top-notch underwriting department. Does that mean they’re pushovers? No, it means the work hard to truly assess risk. For example, if you’re healthy and have well-managed type 2 diabetes, you may have a better chance of getting a standard health rating with Ivari than other carriers. Of course, there are no guarantees.
Also, compared to other major carriers, Ivari has one of the more favourable build charts in Canada. Build Charts or Weight tables are used by insurance companies to determine whether an applicant is considered overweight or obese.
This combined with their attention to detail means you may get a more favourable rating with Ivari than with other carriers. For example, if you've had high blood pressure that's well maintained with meds and you're also overweight, you may qualify for a standard rate with Ivari.
Ultimately, this means you could save thousands of dollars over the life of a policy. Yet another reason why it’s important to work with an independent agent who knows the ins and outs of different insurance companies.
Ivari Insurance Review - Application Process
Ivari’s application process is pretty straightforward!
Like most life insurance companies today they have an electronic application – Ivari Appvantage. Your independent agent can fill it out with you in person or over the phone using screen sharing technology.
Progress can be saved which makes the process very flexible. For example, your advisor can enter the bulk of your data face to face, save it and then finish off the application in his or her office before submitting it to Ivari.
Part of the application process involves deciding on how much coverage you’re going to need. The reality is that most people require more protection than they think.
I think this is a little bit of a scam agents just want to sell insurance!
Nope not at all. I think most of my clients are sincerely shocked when they think about the amount of life insurance they will need to maintain their lifestyle. It's staggering.
For the majority of us, life insurance is about replacing income for family or dependents when we’re not there.
If you’ve got kids and a mortgage, you a substantial amount of coverage may be required to make sure there’s enough money coming in to continue life as you know it.
Obligations like mortgage, rent, groceries, car payments, insurance, daycare, healthcare, etc. build up…
…and if your kids are young there are many years of debt ahead.
In my experience, people think $500,000 is a lot of money. The thing is $500k will only pay out $50,000 annually for about 11 years taking into account inflation and interest rates. Hmmmm. These days, a family of three or four subsisting on 50k a year aren’t living high on the hog. In fact, they may be struggling depending on their location.
…and what happens in year 12 when the money’s gone? Sure, it’s better than nothing but term insurance is so affordable, especially when you’re younger. There’s no excuse not to get adequate coverage when it’s so affordable.
How Much Life Insurance life Insurance Do I need?
If you’re in a hurry, one rule of thumb is 10-15 X your gross annual income.
If you’ve got some time, Ivari has an interesting needs analysis tool called My Insurance View which lets you enter all your personal and financial data, including:
- Your children and how old they are
- Mortgage & amortization
- Other debt
- Percentage of gross income you want to leave for your family (and for how long)
You input all your deets and Ivari My Insurance View spits out a prescription for coverage which you can adjust. Yes, it has some limitations but it’s a good place to begin the process.
...So is Ivari Life Insurance Company a good fit for you? Let's check out the pros and cons...
Ivari Insurance Pros
Ivari, originally Transamerica Life Canada, and has been helping Canadians for more than 80 years. They have an A+ rating with Fitch and A.M. Best. Not to mention, they’re owned indirectly by the investment board of one of the worlds top retirement funds, the Canada Pension Plan. Do you need to hear more?
Ivari has a very responsive underwriting department. I personally find that clients who have moderate health issues like well-managed type 2 diabetes, get more favourable outcomes with Ivari. They also has one of the more lenient weight charts in Canada which means applicants on the heavier side may do better than with other carriers.
Ease of Application Process
As with the majority of insurance companies today, Ivari Canada has an electronic application, Ivari Appvantage. This can be filled in relatively quickly with the assistance of your independent insurance agent. Transmitting your data electronically to the insurance company drastically speeds up the underwriting time and makes it easier to apply for life insurance.
Strong Universal Life Product
Ivari ranks high in the marketplace for their Universal Life Insurance (UL) which is one of their best sellers. One perk - if you add a term insurance rider to the UL, the cost of the term insurance is actually less than if you purchased a standalone term policy.
Unique TERMselect30 Product
Ivari’s flexible TERMselect30 is term 30 policy with built-in options in years 15 - 20 which allow you to stop paying premiums and opt for paid-up term, permanent or some cash value. In some situations, this is very useful.
Ivari Insurance Cons
Cost of Term Insurance
Ivari's term products used to be more competitive but recently, they increased the price and let’s just say, it's not the cheapest product on the market. Having said that, if you're doing a blended term insurance solution or adding term as a rider to a Universal Life Policy, the rates are more favourable.
Lower Term Issue Age
Ivari has lower issue ages compared to some other carriers for their term insurance. How does this affect you? If you’re older and looking for longer-term coverage, Ivari won’t sell you a term 30 policy unless you’re age 50 or below. Ivari’s age cap is 80 whereas some other carriers will cover you up to age 85. For example, with Empire Life, you’re eligible for a term 30 policy up to and including age 55. Find out more about term life insurance for senior citizens here.
No Whole Life Product
Ivari has a highly rated Universal Life product which should diffuse some criticism - so to be fair this is only a partial CON. However, if you’re looking for a guaranteed cash value life insurance product that you can “set and forget”, like Whole Life Participating, they come up short.
As you would expect with any company, Ivari has negative and positive customer reviews. Experts tell us only 1.5% of consumers even leave a review and those who do are most likely going to be strongly supportive, or strongly opposed.
The majority of bad reviews with Ivari centre around billing and administration. The most important metric though when it comes to insurance companies is their record on paying out claims. Both Ivari and Transamerica Life Canada before them, have a good reputation when it comes to paying out death benefits.
Ivari was rebranded in 2015 and I suspect they’re experiencing some operational growing pains as they build a new culture while bringing into the fold, many long tenured employees from Transamerica.
Is Ivari Life Insurance right for YOU!?
Well first let me begin by saying Ivari Insurance is a financially stable company with deep roots in Canada. Built on the shoulders of Transamerica Canada Life, It’s good to know your investment in your family’s future is safe. This is important for most of us because who wants to see their life insurance company crash and burn?
NOTE* The Canadian Insurance Industry is highly regulated by the federal government. Every life insurance company is required by law to become a member of Assuris. If a Canadian Life insurance carrier fails, Assuris, a non-profit organization, steps in to guarantee the death benefit or cash value of your life insurance policy. So don’t worry, you’re covered.
Ivari Canada has a nice range of high-quality life insurance products including term, universal life and critical illness coverage.
All Life Insurance Companies Are NOT the Same!
Remember not all life insurance companies are created equally. They have different products and underwriting guidelines can vary substantially between carriers.
Even if you think Ivari Canada is right for you, give us a call at Policy Architects and we’ll give you a second opinion.