How do group insurance plans differ from individual plans?

How combining group and individual insurance can help protect your family

We all want to make sure our families are looked after. And while group insurance is important when it comes to protecting you and your loved ones, it may not cover all your needs.

If you got injured, sick or passed away, would your group insurance be enough to make sure you and your family aren’t left with financial issues?

You may be able to better protect your family by combining group and individual insurance.

The basics

What is group insurance

  • It’s insurance coverage arranged by employers, associations and unions for their employees or members. While many employer-sponsored plans are generous, choice and flexibility within the plan may be limited because you must choose from the coverage options provided by your employer or association.

What is individual insurance

  • It’s coverage that can provide you with more control over your policy, helping you protect what matters most according to your specific needs. You own the policy, which means you can choose the products and options you want.

Uncovering your needs

To find out if your group insurance plan provides the coverage you need, consider the following questions: 

  • If something happened to you or a family member, how long would you be able to pay the bills or continue saving for your children’s education?
  • If you were too sick to work, would your coverage provide you with a lump sum payment that you could use to help with your recovery?
  • Can you increase your coverage if your needs change down the road?
  • Does your insurance protection last a lifetime?

Fill the gaps

Depending on coverage provided, your group insurance alone may not provide all the coverage you need. Here’s how the two products can complement each other.

  Group insurance Individual insurance
How much coverage do I/my family get? Often limited.
You choose.Footnote 1
How much choice and flexibility do I have? Often limited – your employer or association picks coverage options.

You may have some choice within options provided by your employer, association or union.
You pick:
  • Insurance type
  • Amount of coverageFootnote 2
  • Length of coverage
  • Best options for you
Can I change my coverage? Usually only once per year or when there’s a life-changing event like marriage or the birth of a child.
Yes. Depending on the type of insuranceOpens in a new window and your needs, you may be able to:
  • Increase or decrease coverage
  • Convert temporary (term) to long-term (permanent) insurance coverage
  • Add or remove options
Who controls the policy? The employer or association, who can make changes at any time.
You own the policy and can make changes.
What happens if I leave the company or organization? Coverage ends unless there’s an option to convert to individual insurance.
Coverage is portable and stays the same – it’s not tied to a job or membership.
How much does it cost? Typically lower than individual insurance.
Typically higher than group insurance.
Will costs stay the same? Costs can change – possibly yearly.
Costs stay the same for the life of the policy, unless you choose otherwise or make changes to the policy.Footnote 3


Subject to underwriting limits. Also, will vary based on insurance needs.
Term life insurance costs may change upon renewal.

Connect with an advisor

Working with a financial security advisor can provide you with the tools and expertise you need to plan for the future.

Learn more