It’s Never Too Early to Start Planning for Retirement

There are many things to consider when thinking about retirement, beyond what beach or golf course you’re heading to. Your post-employment health care is an important factor to consider, and securing a health and dental benefit plan when you enter retirement is a smart idea.

Devastating expenses relating to an illness or injury are not something you plan for, but it’s wise to take precautions in the event of the unthinkable. Your provincial health care may not provide coverage for costs that were previously covered under a group benefit plan. And if you’re planning on traveling in retirement, emergency travel insurance is a must.

“As Canadians age, they are faced with increasing healthcare costs. Items such as prescription drugs, medical equipment, in-home nursing care, dental treatment as well as emergency travel medical costs can be challenging to manage on a fixed income,” says Conor Quinn, the Vice-President of Group Benefits at Co-operators Life Insurance Company.

Insurance companies offer a range of options for new retirees. Most require you to apply within 60 days of leaving your job. Here’s a look at some of the options.

Co-operators Life Insurance Company

The Co-operators’ ContinYou Golden is the newest retiree product to hit the market. It’s specifically designed for people moving into retirement and transitioning from group benefits coverage.

If you’re within the 60-day mark of your group insurance terminating, it’s easy to apply for ContinYou Golden. You generally only need to provide proof of comparable coverage under a group insurance plan. The plan includes coverage for costs not covered under a provincial health plan: health and dental expenses, prescription drugs, accidental dental, emergency travel, nursing care and paramedical services such as massage therapy. ContinYou Golden has three pricing tiers. The Co-operators conducted extensive market research to ensure they were bringing in a plan with competitive rates.

“We’ve tried to make it flexible and affordable so people can buy up,” says Quinn. “Health care risks tend to increase as we age. This is a way of passing some of that risk of unexpected healthcare expenses to your insurance carrier.”

On a side note, the Co-operators is the only full-service group benefit carrier and fully licensed life and health insurance company headquartered in Saskatchewan. Federated Co-op is one of the company’s largest group benefits clients.

Sun Life Financial

Sun Life’s Health Coverage Choice offers a comprehensive plan for you and any family members aged 74 and younger. There’s no medical requirements on the application but you must have provincial health coverage. Sun Life even offers an advice and referral service with an international physician network for clients that need help understanding a medical condition and treatment options. There’s also a mobile app for managing your coverage online.

Saskatchewan Blue Cross

Saskatchewan Blue Cross offers customized, affordable personal health benefits plans for retirees. An added extra is that Blue Cross will transition your Basic Group Life insurance without a medical questionnaire (it only applies to those who had life insurance with a Saskatchewan Blue Cross employer benefits plan). It’s a way to have life insurance coverage for those who would otherwise not qualify due to medical history.


Manulife offers two affordable, uninterrupted health and dental insurance protection when you retire with no medical questionnaire if you apply within 60 days of losing your group benefit coverage. Manulife’s FollowMe Health allows you to apply at any age for one of four core plans. The FlexCare plan offers a discount for families with three or more children. Optional travel insurance protection is available for both plans, and both let you earn Air Miles reward miles, too.

Great-West Life

Great-West Life’s PlanDirect offers an automatic qualification without medical evidence if you’ve had a prior health and dental plan for at least six months. The plan automatically renews each year, as long as the premium is paid on time and the policy is in force on the day before the annual renewal. There’s three options, and the premier plan offers increased drug and major dental coverage.