January 18, 2022
Canadian life insurance application activity finished 2021 flat at -1.5% when compared to full year 2020, according to the Canadian MIB Life Index. The months of March through June saw YOY growth, in the double digits for April and May. However, this growth was offset by YOY declines in the remaining months of the year, including double-digit declines in July, September and October.
YOY comparisons are impacted by fluctuations in 2020 activity due to COVID. The double-digit YOY increases seen in April and May of 2021 can be attributed to corresponding pandemic related double-digit declines in activity during the same months in 2020. When comparing annual 2021 Canadian activity to pre-pandemic levels in 2019, the industry was down for Canada at –9.2%.
Throughout the year, we saw fluctuations in activity patterns YOY by age band. Ages 0-30 saw the most consistent pattern, with the highest YOY performance across age bands for 8 out of 12 months and the second highest for an additional 3 months.
Based on information reported to MIB, in 2021 total application activity for policies up to and including $500K made up more than 70% of total activity. YOY declines in activity for these lower face amounts, offset by double-digit YOY growth for face amounts over $500K, drove the composite flat result for 2021. All age bands saw declines for policies up to and including $500K, with the exception of ages 0-30 who saw flat activity for policies over $250K up to and including $500K. Additionally, all age bands saw growth or flat activity for policies over $1M. Policies for face amounts over $500K up to and including $1M had mixed results across age bands with growth for ages 0-60, declines for ages 61-70 and flat activity for ages 71+.
In 2021, Universal Life represented 8.9% of total Canadian life insurance activity, while Whole Life represented 24.4% and Term Life represented 32.9%. The remaining 33.8% reflects activity where a product type was not provided to MIB. Although it makes up a small proportion of overall activity, Universal Life submissions YOY for the full year 2021 reflected significant growth at +31.9%. Whole Life also saw an increase at +5.4%, while Term Life decreased by -9.1%. All age bands declined for Term Life in 2021. For Universal Life, ages 0-60 saw growth, in the double digits for ages 0-50, while ages 61+ declined. For Whole Life ages 0-50 were at growth, in the double digits for ages 0-30, ages 51-60 saw flat activity and ages 61+ declined.
As noted, just under 34% of total Life Index volume for Canada in December did not include a product type. We believe the vast majority of these submissions are for Life Insurance applications and have included them in the composite analysis presented in this report. Missing product type information can have a significant impact on the Canadian analysis. When looking solely at submissions identified as for Life Insurance products, 2021 annual year over year activity for Canada was +0.2% over 2020.
NOTE; Due to frequent missing information regarding the applicant’s country of residence, effective January 2021 we are now identifying Canadian activity based on the company country.