A Guide to Group Insurance Benefits and Coronavirus (COVID-19) in Canada

A Guide to Group Insurance Benefits and Coronavirus (COVID-19) in Canada

COVID-19 has precipitated an unprecedented healthcare crisis in Canada and around the world. Business owners and human resources professionals have many questions about providing group insurance benefits in these difficult times. 

Group Enroll is here to help. We’re an insurance broker that helps Canadian businesses like yours choose the group insurance that best suits their needs to reassure current employees and attract new talent.

We provide quotes from Canada’s top insurance providers to help you get the coverage to protect your team at a fair cost.

Our brokers are always prepared to help find the best group insurance benefits. Still, we understand that you might need specific help in planning group benefits to account for hospitalizations, disability, and critical illness related to COVID-19 exposure amidst the pandemic. 

As you deal with the effects of the coronavirus pandemic and quarantine, please know that we also work with companies and insurance providers to find coverage to manage things like advance prescription medication purchases, travel insurance, and more.

Find an Insurance Provider with the Best Group Benefits for your Business

We provide quotes from multiple insurers to ensure that you obtain the correct type and amount of coverage at the best price. Some of the insurance companies we work with include:

Empire Life Insurance

The Empire Life Insurance Company (Empire Life or Empire Vie) is a Canadian life insurance and financial services company with its headquarters in Kingston, Ontario, Canada. It was incorporated in 1923 and is a subsidiary of E-L Financial Corporation Limited of Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

Blue Cross

For more than 70 years the Blue Cross name in Canada has stood for affordable, quality supplementary individual health and travel insurance coverage, as well as group benefits and group life insurance, delivered with trustworthy and personalized service.


Manulife Financial Corporation is a Canadian multinational insurance company and financial services provider headquartered in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. It is the biggest and best insurance company in Canada.

Green Shield Canada

GSC is a not-for-profit benefits carrier that provides drug, dental, extended health care, vision, hospital and travel benefits for groups and individuals, as well as administration services.


Desjardins Insurance is the insurance unit of Desjardins Group, the largest association of credit unions in Canada. It is a financial services cooperative that belongs to its members.

IA Financial

Founded in 1892, iA Financial Group offers a comprehensive range of life and health insurance products, savings and retirement plans (RRSP, TFSA, etc.), mutual and segregated funds, securities, auto and home insurance, mortgages and car loans as well as a host of other financial products and services.

Equitable Life Insurance

Equitable Life of Canada is based in Waterloo Ontario, part of Equitable Group. Equitable Life’s financial success is a result of very strong growth and a conservative approach to investment.

Beneva (formerly SSQ) Insurance

SSQ Insurance (French: SSQ Assurance) is a mutual diversified financial institution founded in 1944 in Quebec, Canada, which offers insurance and investment products.

Sun Life

Sun Life Financial, Inc. (Sun Life Canada) is a Canadian financial services company known primarily as a life insurance company. It is one of the largest life insurance companies in the world, and also one of the oldest with a history spanning back to 1865.

Co-operators Insurance

The Co-operators Group Limited, founded in 1945, is a Canadian insurance co-operative owned by 44 members including co-ops, credit union centrals and representative farm organizations. It is one of the leading Canadian-owned multi-line insurers, offering auto, home, life, farm, travel and business insurance as well as investments.

RBC Insurance

The Royal Bank of Canada (RBC) is a Canadian multinational financial services company and the largest bank in Canada by market capitalization. The bank serves over 16 million clients and has 80,000 employees worldwide that solidifies itself as a primary financial services institution. RBC Insurance one of the largest and most trusted companies and an institution in Canada.

The coronavirus pandemic is forcing many employers to make difficult decisions. If you haven’t done so already, now is an excellent time to review your insurance coverage and ask for help. You may try to negotiate a new contract that includes waivers to account for coronavirus, but remember that your existing insurance plan is a legal document, so changing it requires legal consent from you and your provider. 

As you navigate the COVID-19 pandemic, you must weigh your business needs, and your employees’ needs against the types of coverage offered to make a realistic but satisfying group insurance decision. This page’s information will provide everything you need to know to select an insurance policy to fit your group and address COVID-19 health questions.

At Group Enroll, we’re here to help you find competitive quotes to provide your employees with group benefits. If you’re new to group benefits, we can help you start on the right foot. Even if you have provided group coverage for your employees for decades, take advantage of our experience and relationships within the insurance industry to negotiate for a better group plan.

What Group Insurance Products Should My Business Consider?

Extended Health Care

Extended health care coverage provides group benefits beyond the typical health insurance that government plans provide, filling coverage gaps. Most provincial plans don’t cover dental and vision care, prescription medications, and specialty services like seeing a chiropractor.

While the Canadian Health Act does require coverage for certain mental health services, it doesn’t require psychology or psychotherapy coverage—services that could be vital in the current pandemic.

Extended health care benefits are flexible. You can customize them to cover additional expenses related to prescription medication, hospital stays, paramedic services, out-of-province coverage, medical supplies and equipment, and more.

You might show current and prospective employees that their health matters to your company by offering extended health care that provides for potentially costly expenses such as orthopedics, equipment for dialysis and diabetes management, and hearing aids. 

Health insurance providers can also incorporate vision services into extended health care coverage to help your team afford prescription glasses and contact lenses. Check with your insurance company if you’re interested in benefits such as nursing, emergency dental coverage, and additional services that may fall under their extended health care plans.

Group Dental Insurance

A group dental package covers significant and vitally important services from X-rays and cleanings to dentures and orthodontics. To promote good oral health, most Canadian employers offer dental benefits to employees. Whether your staff members need fillings or bridges, a comprehensive group dental plan can help cover the cost of care.

Group dental insurance often also extends to employees’ family members, so if one of your workers needs to make a pediatric dental appointment or get braces for their child, group dental insurance can kick in to help cover the cost.

 Traditional government-issued health plans don’t always cover all the services included under a group dental plan, so purchasing one protects your employees from these additional expenses. Maximum annual coverage limits range between about $1,000 and $3,000 each for basic dental services, major restoration, and orthodontic services.

Group Disability Insurance

Group disability insurance can cover the short-term and long-term effects of a disabling illness or injury. When an employee can’t carry out all of their everyday work activities, disability coverage can replace some of the lost income, make treatment affordable, and defray equipment and physical therapy costs. 

Disability insurance goes beyond immediate and emergency care to ensure that you are taking care of your workers for the long term. Remember that employee compensation only covers injuries that happen on the job. 

At the same time, a group disability plan can help if one of your employees is involved in a car accident on the way to work or develops a serious illness. While not legally obligated to provide disability benefits, Canadian businesses that offer group disability insurance are more attractive to prospective employees concerned with these substantial potential costs.

Group Life Insurance

Most complete group benefits packages incorporate some form of group life insurance. However, group life insurance can also assist in the event of serious but non-fatal illnesses or injuries such as cancer, heart bypass surgery, or an injury that leads to loss or use of particular body parts. Your policy will describe the conditions under which your group life insurance takes effect.

An insurance professional can help you understand the differences between policies you might consider. For example, some group life insurance plans pay beneficiaries a prescribed amount when an employee dies, while others offer a portion of the employee’s annual salary. 

Offering group life insurance demonstrates that you care not just about the work that your employees perform but also about the family members they love and protect. Group Enroll can help you find the most appropriate plan for your business and your team members.

Group Retirement Savings Plan (RRSP)

A group retirement savings plan—particularly one with an employer contribution—shows employees that, just as you have invested in your business’s future, you are investing in their long-term financial success as well. 

A group registered retirement savings plan (RRSP) is registered with the Canadian government to allow employees to deduct savings from their taxes to encourage workers to save for their retirement. Employees can generally decide how they want these savings invested.

Businesses in Canada with a strong group retirement savings plan find it productive in retaining valuable workers. At the same time, employees appreciate the investment in their future financial security. With automatic deductions, a group retirement savings plan requires little administrative oversight. 

However, it’s worth your time to contact an insurance broker to find out about the differences between plans offered by various insurance companies, such as how annuities payout or whether they provide a registered retirement income fund (RRIF).

Health Care Spending Account

A health care spending account (HCSA) can be a cost-effective plan that allows employees and employers to receive tax benefits to save up for medical care and prescription drugs. 

Usually, a health care spending account plan provides employees with a fixed amount of money that they can use for services from prescriptions to surgery to necessary at-home care. Your licensed insurance broker can explain how their particular plan operates.

Keep in mind that while employees have a great deal of flexibility in deciding how to spend their allowance on health care, it is up to you to decide how much allowance to offer and who may withdraw money from the account. 

Remember that health care spending accounts will also differ between companies of different sizes because the number of participants affects how the plan works. We can help you find an HCSA plan that offers the resources your employees want.

5 Ways to Keep Employees Happy at Work

Happy Employees are the key to cultivating a rich, positive and productive workplace. We love these tips on how to keep employees happy at work.

Major Group Insurance Plan Providers’ COVID-19 Resources

Group Enroll’s partners are looking to healthcare solutions now, in particular, since businesses are grappling with the effects of the coronavirus pandemic and quarantine. 

Even if you thoroughly reviewed your healthcare coverage before purchasing a plan before the pandemic, it may be worth seeing how coverage is changing. Insurance providers are now providing new and different services to attract and retain clients weathering the pandemic.

To find the most appropriate coverage for your employees, we recommend that you review the policies of the insurance companies that we work with here at Group Enroll. Insurance providers have been modifying plans rapidly, so it’s good to stay apprised of the current group health care landscape. 

Luckily, many insurance companies provide information online, so you can do some research before contacting us for quotes to compare plans. You may refer to the insurance providers’ online resources listed below as you consider which group insurance plan is right for your company and your employees.


Manulife has made several updates to coverage and customer support amidst the pandemic. For example, the insurance provider recently updated its travel plan. It now covers Canadians travelling abroad and provides emergency medical insurance of up to $1 million for COVID-19-related illness and up to $5 million for non-coronavirus illness. 

Insurance carriers can also benefit from trip interruption insurance if they face quarantine or must delay travel to account for Canadian government travel warnings.

To read about Manulife’s COVID-19 services, visit this webpage, where the company has also provided links to other Canadian health resources at the national and provincial levels. The company also operates Manulife Bank, which has answered financial questions that may arise during the pandemic.

Green Shield Canada

Even if Green Shield Canada representatives can’t provide as much face-to-face help during the pandemic, plan participants can search the company’s support centre for news and health advice to protect themselves from contracting the coronavirus. 

Green Shield is also sponsoring the Stronger Minds program and encouraging its members to seek Stronger Minds for advice on mental health and emotional resiliency. Plan members may submit anonymous questions to the program, which Beacon health care professionals run. 

The company publishes answers on the site covering topics like keeping children hopeful during the pandemic, dealing with paranoia, and being cooped up with difficult people day after day. Articles on the site address anxiety, stress, sleep disorders, loneliness, and other mental health issues that COVID-19 and pandemic-control measures cause or exacerbate.

Empire Life Insurance

Since many of Empire Life’s employees are isolating and working from home, they have established a webpage to answer questions about its coverage during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The company site provides contact information to reach an Empire Life representative, as well. Additionally, the firm’s financial management team members are posting videos to discuss how political and pandemic developments affect investments.

Empire Life is offering a financial relief package to members extending grace periods for payments on life and critical illness insurance policies. This offer helps to account for the financial strain the coronavirus has caused among plan members, the website explains. Plan members must alert the company by calling 1-800-561-1268 if they would like to request an extension on premium payments.

Blue Cross

Blue Cross has had to make several policy changes, and the insurance provider warns that the industry is having to adapt quickly to fast-changing circumstances. 

For one, during the COVID-19 pandemic, the company is only accepting claims for medical consultations conducted by certain providers using phones and video chat. However, some coronavirus measures have expired, so plan participants may want to check in on their current status.

Blue Cross’s regional Canadian offices have published lengthy online FAQs to discuss COVID-19 procedures. The Ontario Blue Cross, for example, answers questions about how to receive disability payments while under quarantine and when to expect a response to a claim. The page also includes information about COVID-19 medical research, charitable giving, and advice for people sheltering at home.


Desjardins recognizes that COVID-19 doesn’t just physically impact people—many people have suffered financially during the pandemic as well. The insurance company is offering lines of credit and loans to group plan members who qualify. There are several ways a person may be eligible for relief measures. You can find the list on Desjardin’s COVID-19 web page.

While the company assesses each application on its own merits, applicants may qualify for help if they:

  • Contracted COVID-19
  • Lost a job or have been furloughed
  • Can’t travel for work due to COVID-19 restrictions
  • Are quarantined pending coronavirus test results

Desjardins is also offering loans of up to $3,000 at a 4.97% interest rate. The insurance company has adjusted some home and auto insurance rates for members enrolled in those programs who are working from home or taking delivery jobs, as well.

IA Financial

IA has compiled a nine-page COVID-19 booklet to answer questions specific to group insurance coverage. A PDF is available online to answer any question you or other team members may have about how service and coverage have changed—and where they have stayed the same—during the coronavirus pandemic and amidst quarantine measures.

IA specifically addresses not just basic health insurance but also disability benefits, prescriptions, and travel insurance. For example, IA plan members may be relieved to learn that they are eligible for short-term disability benefits if they have tested positive for COVID-19 or are displaying symptoms but haven’t had a test yet. However, quarantining because of close contact with someone infected or after an international trip doesn’t qualify.

Equitable Life Insurance

As much as COVID-19 has changed Canada and the world, some things are reliable and consistent. That includes Equitable insurance services.

“Equitable’s life insurance and major medical insurance policies do not contain exclusions related to any specific disease or a pandemic. If a claim is received for a death related to COVID-19, it will be paid according to our regular procedures, subject to standard contestability provisions,” the insurance provider notes on its coronavirus webpage.

One other constant in the world is a crime. Equitable warns plan members that fraudsters thrive in a crisis, and the company provides advice for identifying, reporting and resolving a fraudulent scheme, as well as steps people can take to avoid being targeted by criminals in the first place.

Beneva (SSQ) Insurance

Longtime insurance holders may be accustomed to a particular routine, but during the pandemic, the processing of paper documents has seen delays since accounting and shipping services have become overextended. SSQ Insurance (now Beneva, as of early December 2020) is encouraging its members to shift over to its online customer centre and mobile app to make sure it pays all claims promptly.

The customer centre and app provide a sleek design where members can view their policy information at a glance, submit claims, estimate reimbursements, and retrieve documents necessary for filing income taxes. 

Submitting claims online is much faster than leaving a paper trail—SSQ/Beneva can reimburse most claims within 48 hours. Members with auto and home insurance may also view their policies and other options at the online customer centre or through the SSQ app.

Sun Life

Sun Life has established a call line to help its group plan members navigate their healthcare amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. Members may call 1-877-SUN-LIFE (1-877-786-5433) between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. Eastern Time to chat with an insurance company representative about their coverage.

Information is also available on Sun Life’s coronavirus webpage, where the insurance company explains how coverage is operating during the COVID-19 health crisis. Sun Life has collected resources such as a guide to mental health for students and workers who are isolating at home instead of among friends, colleagues, and classmates at school and work. 

The guide discusses ways employers can support good mental health among their employees and provides information about mental health insurance concerns.

The Co-operators Group Insurance

The COVID-19 pandemic has put an enormous strain on small businesses in Canada, and the risks seem to grow and change every day. To help small and medium-sized businesses stay afloat, The Co-operators Insurance offers comprehensive risk assessments to clients who desire a professional to review their financial circumstances. 

Advisors can also help a small or medium-sized business decide what coverage may be appropriate due to changes in its business model during the pandemic—for example, a restaurant that formerly filled a dining room but is now in the delivery and take-out business.

This insurance company also provides payment relief and other measures such as partial refunds to help policyholders struggling during the coronavirus pandemic and quarantine. Information is available on The Co-operators COVID relief web page.

RBC Insurance

RBC is trying to help policyholders facing financial hardship by extending grace periods for group benefits payments by an extra month—up to 60 days. The company’s COVID-19 page also includes relevant information for people who can’t work, either because they’ve contracted COVID-19, are displaying symptoms, or are quarantining for some other reason. 

If you have questions about your eligibility for short-term disability, visit the group benefits explanation to determine your best course of action.

People who have signed up for a group policy may also have specific benefits if their employer has temporarily laid them off—RBC contracts can extend short- and long-term disability benefits for up to 90 days and all other benefits for 180 days.

How Group Enroll Can Help You Select an Appropriate Plan Amidst COVID-19 Pandemic Concerns

As an insurance broker, Group Enroll does not provide coverage, but we can make it easier to select the right plan for your group. We’ve helped many Canadian companies procure affordable group coverage, and we realize that the coronavirus pandemic may have made you reconsider your current coverage. 

If you are looking to purchase a different plan or an additional plan, we can help. Even if you like your current coverage, we may be able to help you find similar group benefits at a reduced cost.

To start obtaining quotes, fill out the quote form on our website. Our quote form is short and will request basic information such as the number of your employees, your province, and whether you currently have insurance.

As an online company, reaching us through our website is the most convenient way to get in touch. You can discover new group benefits from the comfort and safety of your home or office.

After we’ve received your group benefits quote form, one of our experienced professionals will call or email you back for a brief conversation to collect any additional relevant information. This call will likely only take five to ten minutes.

After that, we’ll send your information to providers that match your needs. We generally seek out quotes from at least five to ten different providers.

Within two or three business days, we’ll send you a range of quotes, and you can review them to decide which one best suits your group’s needs.

Contact Group Enroll Today

The healthcare and insurance industries have changed to adapt to the current COVID-19 pandemic, quarantine measures, and travel restrictions. A group insurance policy that once fit your business may no longer be adequate or appropriate. If you’re looking for a new policy, let our team make sure you get the most competitive quotes.

During this time of healthcare uncertainty, at Group Enroll, we want to help your business provide employees with the right insurance coverage. Fill out our quick online form to receive competitive group benefits quotes from top insurance providers.

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