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Standard Life Canada…So What Happened? Find Out HERE!

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standard life canada

Standard Life Canada , Part Of Manulife Insurance Since 2015


On January 30th, 2015, The Standard Life Assurance Company of Canada was purchased by Manufacturers Life in one of the biggest acquisitions in Canadian insurance history.

 From that day forward, all Standard Life plans and policies were assumed by Manulife Canada and continue to be administered by them to the present day.  


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With origins in Scotland, Standard Life Canada was founded in the 1830's and over the next 175 years, grew into the 5th largest life insurance company in Canada. When they were swallowed up by Manulife in 2015, Manulife became the largest life insurance company in Canada. Some might remember Standard Life was the first insurer to offer a Total Customer Satisfaction Guarantee on all their insurance products.


James Heidebrecht Founder of Policy Architects

This short, fact-filled post is intended to provide information to existing Standard Life Canada policyholders and consumers. Do you have a Standard Life Insurance Policy in force and are you looking to review or make any administrative changes?

If so, Standard Life VIP has been transferred to the Manulife VIP Room. Click here for more info

This page is a resource to help former Standard Life group plan and policyholders administer their programs now under the umbrella of Manulife. If you haven’t done so already, you can get a new Standard Life login user ID and create your own password to get access to Manulife VIP.

You can also contact Manulife Customer Service here:

  • Manulife Individual Insurance and Investments 1-888-841-6633
  • Manulife Group Savings and Retirement 1-800-242-1704

As a former Standard Life Canada group plan or policyholder, you can do any number of things through Manulife VIP room including:

  • Review your Standard Life insurance policy and features

  • Update your address, banking and personal information

  • Make a change of beneficiary request

  • Request an insurance certificate replacement

  • View or request a copy of your statement

  • Administer any changes to your group savings and retirement plan

  • Convert Standard Life Term Insurance to a Manulife permanent plan

The History Of Standard Life Canada

Standard Life started out as the Life Insurance Company of Scotland in 1825. Founded in Edinburgh they changed their name to The Standard Life Assurance Company in 1832.

Just under a century later in 1925, Standard Life was reorganized as a mutual assurance company.

Operating globally since its inception, the Canadian branch of Standard Life Assurance was founded in 1833 in Montreal, Quebec. By the late 1800s, Standard Life Insurance was selling policies in Canada, Egypt, Germany, India, Ireland, Shanghai and the West Indies. 

I find it interesting how many Canadian life insurance companies got their start in Quebec. Some of these giants include Desjardins, BMO, Humania, Industrial Alliance (incl iA Excellence), RBC and SSQ.

history of standard life insurance

Modern Days 

In the 20th century, Standard Life expanded from selling annuities and basic insurance to selling group benefits, savings and investments.

By 1960, they had become the biggest life assurance company in Scotland and by the late 1990s, Europe’s largest mutual insurance company. In 1998, Standard Life Investments was launched as a dedicated asset management business.

The Standard Life Assurance Company was demutualized in 2006 and transformed into a public company, Standard Life plc.

Just under a decade later in January 2015, the Canadian operations of Standard Life were purchased by Manulife Financial Corp. for approximately $4 billion in cash.

The Standard Life Manulife Deal

This 2015 deal combined Standard Life Canada, the fifth-largest Canadian insurer with Manulife, one of the largest insurance companies globally with over 80,000 employees.

At the time of the acquisition, Standard Life provided long term savings, investments and insurance products to approximately 1.4 million Canadians. It also had $52 billion of assets under administration.

The transaction doubled Manulife’s assets under management in Canada and made it number two in the Canadian group retirement business. Not to mention, Manulife acquired 2,000 new ‘Standard Life’ employees and more than $6 billion in assets credited to its mutual fund business in Canada. 

At the time, Manulife had been particularly keen to acquire Standard Life’s Quebec assets to boost its core businesses:

“One of the key reasons we were interested in this company is its people in Quebec. We want to increase our presence in the province and use the very talented employee base to grow and expand our business in Quebec, throughout Canada and indeed the world,” Donald A. Guloien, Former Manulife president and CEO

Manulife's New Digs: Maison Manuvie

Putting their money where their mouth is, Manulife built a new home for its Standard Life employees in Montreal. Completed in 2017, Maison Manuvie is a $220 million, state of the art office building located in the heart of downtown Montreal.

It houses all former Standard Life employees as well as Manulife personnel on 11 floors.

Part of the Standard Life Manulife Deal also included a global collaboration agreement. Whereby Manulife would deepen Standard Life Investments’ distribution reach selling Standard Life Investments’ funds in Canada, the United States and Asia. 

 “One in three Canadians do business with Manulife, but 90% of them only have one Manulife product. The Standard Life acquisition has enabled us to improve the offering.” Charles Guay, Former president and CEO of Manulife Quebec

standard life manulife

Today as you may be aware, Manulife is the largest insurance company in Canada and one of the top 30 fund managers in the world.

…and did you know, one of the larger insurance companies in the U.S., John Hancock Financial, is owned by Manulife Canada? 

The promises and commitments made to you by The Standard Life Insurance Company have continued as promises and commitments of Manulife Insurance.

Standard Life Insurance Products

Standard Life Canada was always known more for its group, investment and retirement products. Nonetheless, it had a substantial life insurance offering as well including critical illness, term, universal and whole life. 

Sales of Individual life and critical illness policies stopped when the Standard Life – Manulife Deal was completed.

However, existing policyholders still have the option to make changes. I’m going to make a shortlist below to give you an idea of the insurance products Standard Life of Canada offered.

Standard Life Term Insurance

Standard Life Assurance of Canada offered both 10 and 20-year term products. They have the following features and options:

  • Renewable to age 85
  • Convertible to Standard life Whole or Universal Life insurance to age 65
  • Issue ages 18-70 depending on the term length
  • Term rider
  • Protecta Critical Illness rider
  • Joint first-to-die option
  • Minimum coverage $100,000

Note*:  If you have a Standard Life Term policy in force, you may have the option to convert it to permanent coverage, within prescribed limits. It’s always a good idea to review your policy so you know what your options are. With Manulife, your permanent conversion options are limited to Performax Gold Whole Life or Innovision Universal Life.

Looking For A Term Life Insurance Quote?

Standard Life Whole Life Insurance

Whole life is a form of permanent insurance which typically has a cash value feature. How does it work?

Every month, a small portion of your insurance premium is put aside into an investment account inside your insurance policy. The cash in this account grows over time and may compound into a nice little nest egg. 

As a policyholder, you have options to access this cash value in different ways. For example, when you’re older, you can borrow against the policy to provide extra retirement income without triggering income tax.

You can also leave the cash value alone knowing it will be added to the death benefit and your beneficiaries will be able to use it to pay estate taxes or capital gains tax. This could come in handy if you are passing down a cottage.  

Standard Life Canada’s whole life was non-participating and had life pay and limited pay options with the following features:

  • Available as whole life 100 or limited pay options –
  • Pay to age 65, pay to age 75, pay 20, 25 or 30 years
  • Single, joint first or last-to-die
  • Issue ages 18-80 years old
  • Cash values available on the 10th policy anniversary
  • Reduced paid-up values

Standard Life Universal Life Insurance

Universal Life insurance is one type of permanent coverage that has a cash value feature. It’s very flexible and as such, it can be a complicated product to manage. I

f you want to take an in-depth look at UL, check out my post here.

Standard Life Canada’s Universal Life insurance is called Protecta. It has all the features and options that are common to Universal Life policies sold by other life insurance companies in Canada. 

If you purchased a Protecta Universal Life insurance policy before 2015 and haven’t reviewed it, now would be a good time. The Standard Life VIP room has been transferred to Manulife. You can get details, phone numbers and a link at the top of this post.

Standard Life Critical Illness Coverage

Critical illness is a hot topic with life insurance consumers today but buyer beware.

To make a claim, your illness has to meet the criteria of very specific definitions as laid out in your policy. If it doesn’t, you won’t receive a payout. Read my post about the pitfalls of critical illness insurance here before you sign on the dotted line. 

Standard Life Canada’s offering was called Protecta Critical Illness Insurance. It had similar features to other critical illness products on the market:

  • Available in 10-year (Protecta 10), term to age 65 (Protecta 65), Term to age 75 (Protecta 75) and Term to age 100 (Protecta 100)
  • Protecta Child – covers 13 childhood illnesses
  • Protecta 65 joint protection – covers 2 lives until age 65
  • Return of Premium on Death and/or Surrender
  • Waiver of premium on death or disability
  • A Protecta 10 is convertible to Protecta 75 or Protecta 100 within limits

Standard Life Canada - Final Word

As you can see, Standard Life Canada has deep roots that go all the way back to Scotland. Its acquisition in 2015  made Manulife the largest insurance company in Canada.

In a nutshell, Standard Life policyholders can rest easy knowing their investment is safe.

If you or a family member has a life insurance policy with Standard Life it’s a good idea to review your coverage and understand what options you may have moving forward.

Remember, all Standard Life policies – that means yours – have been policies of the Manufacturers Life insurance Company since 2015. You can sleep well knowing your policy remains unchanged.

To reach out to Standard Life (Manulife), contact 1-888-841-6633.
james heidebrecht standard life insurance

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