A Changing Industry: All About Family Insurance in Canada

Comprehensive family insurance in Canada today is a million dollar industry that encompasses a large number of private and public insurance companies. These companies cover families for the many potential risks that often leave people in a financial bind, including mandatory coverage such as car insurance, and other coverage such as health, home and life insurance.

Canadian families have many options when it comes to protecting themselves against life’s unexpected dire consequences. Over time, the insurance industry in Canada has grown, developed, and changed to meet the needs of its residents, embracing current trends, and providing desired products while keeping costs under control.

Medical Care for Loved Ones: Health Insurance

Medical coverage falls under the umbrella of optional family insurance in Canada. Although Canadians are fortunate to be provided with medical coverage under provincial health plans, there are nevertheless gaps in the program that can be filled with additional private health insurance. For instance, provincial health plans do not typically cover dental or vision care, or medical expenses when travelling outside the country. Many Canadians obtain private coverage for prescription drugs if they are not among those who qualify for assistance.

Canada’s health insurance system has a long history. Saskatchewan was the first province to pass laws providing coverage in 1946, and by 1961 all the provinces had followed suit. In 1984, the Canada Health Act set forth federal standards by which provinces could receive funding from the federal government. According to a 2009 poll, more than 86% of Canadians state that they support the provincial health care system.

Health insurance in Canada has faced several challenges over time. More recently, there is a push to privatize health care in some areas, in spite of popular opinion. Canada’s health care system is relentlessly scrutinized and its policies are a topic of ongoing discussions, but in the meantime, families can obtain additional medical coverage from private insurance providers in order to fill the gaps left by provincial plans.

Public and Private: Car Insurance

One of the largest areas of family insurance in Canada is the car insurance industry, a field that has undergone much change over the years. When cars first became available in Canada, a few large companies were already offering personal lines of coverage to Canadians. One of the oldest insurance companies in the nation is the Dominion of Canada General Insurance Company, which opened its doors in 1887 and still offers auto policies and other types of coverage today.

As the need for auto insurance increased, things changed across the country. Some provinces devised their own system of public coverage, such as Manitoba’s Autopac, while others chose a public system of insurance similar to that used in the United States. With more and more cars on the road, provinces eventually passed laws requiring that all drivers carry a liability insurance policy. With insurance now mandatory, the competition for Canadians’ insurance dollars became fierce.

In time, provinces with a public system had to improve the laws in order to protect consumers from overpaying for insurance. Several provinces have now implemented maximum rates that insurance providers must adhere to, and have established control over when and how rates can be raised, in the hope of decreasing the number of people driving without insurance because they cannot afford it.

The Roof over your Head: Home Insurance

Homeowners insurance is also a major consideration when it comes to comprehensive family insurance in Canada. In time, the need for coverage grew as the cost of homes rose and more families were unable to recover from fire and other damages. At the same time, mortgage companies required some protection from substantial financial losses when homes were destroyed. Homeowners insurance is designed to protect both parties. In Canada, this type of insurance is sold by public companies in all provinces, as opposed to auto insurance which is public only in certain provinces.

Started in 1839, the Gore Mutual Fire Insurance Company is the oldest property and casualty insurer in Canada. Since that time, many more companies have opened their doors, providing Canadians with coverage to protect their homes and property from many risks including fire and theft.

Protecting Those Left Behind: Life Insurance

When you think about family insurance in Canada, one of the first things that probably pops into your mind is life insurance, most likely because of its direct human connection. Life insurance protects families from financial disaster when the main breadwinner in the household passes away unexpectedly. It offers an immediate financial cushion to a family experiencing instability, and provides them with time to recover without having to worry over finances.

Two of the oldest life insurance companies in Canada are the Canada Life Insurance Company which started in 1874, and Great West Life which started in 1881. Today, the two companies have merged to form a powerful and venerable player in the life insurance scene. Many other companies are also in the business, some of which are wholly Canadian based, while others have branches in foreign countries.

Although life insurance was once considered somewhat of a luxury for the wealthy, today it has become a vital part of family insurance in Canada, and addresses all levels of income. With so many companies selling life insurance, rates have become competitive over the years, making it easier for Canadian families to choose the coverage they need at a price they can afford.

Coverage for your Family Today

It is easier than ever to provide your family with comprehensive insurance coverage. There are multiple insurance companies operating in Canada that offer a wide range of policies for Canadian families. Although the basic three – auto, home and life- are the most common policies, other significant areas of family insurance should be taken into account, such as health insurance, travel insurance and dental and vision care insurance.

Canada’s insurance providers have grown and improved over time to keep up with the ever-changing needs of Canada’s families. Their purpose is to provide you with the comprehensive protection required to keep your family, home, quality of life and financial assets safe.