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Canada’s Top 20 Employee Benefits Providers — 2023

Summer is approaching, and in the employee benefits industry, we eagerly await the annual report on the top employee benefits providers from the previous year. We’re excited to explore the many interesting insights that emerged from an unprecedented year — so let’s dive in and look at the numbers and insights in 2023.

The Shift in Technology Can Address The Needs of the Workforce 

As technology continues to evolve and the needs of plan members become increasingly varied, the dynamic between benefits plan sponsors and providers is adjusting to accommodate these changes. Benefits plan sponsors are also looking for further evolution in technology and digital tools for access to information and greater ease of use. 

The provider’s role is evolving to become the bridge assisting employees so they can stay healthy and productive.” –  JP Girard, executive vice-president and head of health insurance at Green Shield Canada.

The Market Share of the “Big 3” is Down

The market share for the big three of Sun Life Financial, Canada Life, and Manulife has dropped again. And even though Sun Life lost the Government of Canada’s plan to Canada Life, they are still up, despite only seeing a year-over-year growth of 1%.

As mentioned, on July 1, 2023, the Federal Government switched insurance providers from Sun Life to Canada Life. Many Canadian families were affected by the change, with important benefits being suddenly cut off, leaving them financially on the hook for expensive treatment or medication, as mentioned in CBC Ottawa. “In several cases, Canada Life swiftly resolved their problems, [and] months later, the company apologized before a parliamentary committee for what their clients had gone through.”          

Poor Customer Service Left Canadian Families Stranded

This poor experience, caused by an overlooked insurance transition process, left many Canadian families affected and without the coverage they had been promised and relied on. “To those who had a poor service experience these past months: we are sorry,” said Ryan Weiss, Canada Life’s vice-president of national accounts, via CBC.

Experience is very important for plan sponsors, and employees now want easy access to their health information, straightforward navigation, and solutions to help them manage their health. Employers also want easy-to-manage plans tailored to their employees’ needs and providers to offer insights on preventative care through advancements in technology and healthcare. End-to-end experience will be a major factor in how carriers are positioned in the year ahead.

The Smaller Carriers are Seeing a Big Increase

The number of smaller employee benefits providers is growing significantly compared to years past. Equitable Life saw a 11.2% increase, RBC Insurance saw a 15.8% spike, GreenShield saw 12.3%, and Medavie Blue Cross saw 11.8%, to name a few. Assumption Life was the only company that saw a year-over-year dip, with a 2.1% decrease.

Following the pandemic, employees’ needs have shifted, leading to a greater demand for enhanced benefit packages. Employees are seeking improved benefits this year compared to last, driven by the rising cost of living. Nonetheless, companies are finding it challenging to fulfill these requests. With more flexibility and personalized attention baked into benefit packages, smaller employee benefits providers can climb the rankings and close the gap between what Canadian employees want and what their employers currently provide.