Sun Life Financial Inc.
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Sun Life Financial Inc.

June 23, 2005 12:09 ET

Canadians lack financial plan to cope with critical illness

TORONTO, ONTARIO--(CCNMatthews - June 23, 2005) -

Sun Life Financial/Ipsos-Reid survey reveals confusion about insurance coverage

According to an Ipsos-Reid survey commissioned by Sun Life Financial (TSX:SLF)(NYSE:SLF) and its Clarica advisors, nine in ten Canadians (89 per cent) have had a friend or relative suffer a critical illness such as heart attack or cancer, yet almost half (49 per cent) have no plan to cover the high costs and loss of income associated with living through such an illness. Even among those aged 35 or older, the most vulnerable age group, 42 per cent of those surveyed said they have no financial plan in place.

According to the Heart and Stroke Foundation, 75 per cent of stroke victims will survive the initial stroke and 80 per cent of heart attack victims survive when admitted to hospital. The cost of living through such a critical illness is estimated at well over $100,000 when the cost for rehabilitation services or travel to a treatment centre and loss of income during recuperation are taken into consideration. The survey indicates 54 per cent of Canadians would use personal savings, investments and retirement funds to cover these costs, while another 17 per cent would mortgage their house.

"The survey results indicate that a large number of Canadians are not adequately prepared for the costs associated with living through a critical illness," said Diana Deverall-Ross, Vice-President, Individual Health Insurance, of Sun Life Assurance Company of Canada. "Even those who have some form of savings to draw on would erode their retirement savings, which would be difficult if not impossible to rebuild."

While the survey reveals 26 per cent of Canadians believe they own long term care insurance and 22 per cent believe they own critical illness insurance, industry estimates from LIMRA data show less than two per cent of Canadians own one of these products.

"The survey results demonstrate that Canadians are unclear about what coverage they do have in place," said Deverall-Ross. "Given the considerable financial impact a critical illness can have, it's important for people to take the time, and perhaps seek the help of a financial advisor, to evaluate their coverage and their overall financial situation, identify vulnerabilities and take steps to address those areas of concern."

Critical illness insurance offered by Sun Life Financial through its network of independent advisors and Clarica advisors, provides financial protection to individuals in the event of a serious illness by paying a lump sum benefit following the diagnosis of a covered illness. The protection ensures that, when faced with a serious medical condition, individuals are not forced to compromise their financial future to deal with the unforeseen medical situation. The lump sum benefit may be used at the policyholder's discretion for personal use or to pay down debt, access medical treatment not covered by provincial plans or to cover out-of-pocket costs.

In addition to critical illness insurance, Sun Life Financial and its Clarica advisors offer a long term care insurance product that pays an income to the person covered by the policy, upon approval of a claim. The income can be used to help maintain the lifestyle the individual is used to, as it may be used for any purpose from hiring a private duty nurse, or compensating a family member who leaves their job to provide care, to paying for the cost of a long term care facility.

About the Sun Life Financial/Ipsos-Reid Poll

The research findings quoted above are from a Sun Life Financial/Ipsos-Reid poll conducted between May 17 and May 19, 2005. The poll is based on a randomly selected sample of 971 adult Canadians. With a sample of this size, the results are considered accurate to within plus or minus 3.1 percentage points, 19 times out of 20, of what they would have been had the entire adult Canadian population been polled. The margin of error will be larger within regions and for other sub-groupings of the survey population. These data were statistically weighted to ensure the sample's regional and age/sex composition reflects that of the actual Canadian population according to 2001 Census data.

About Sun Life Financial and Clarica

Sun Life Financial helps individual Canadians achieve lifetime security by providing investment, life and health insurance solutions through approximately 4,000 Clarica managers and advisors located across the country as well as a network of independent advisors.

Sun Life Financial is a leading international financial services organization providing a diverse range of wealth accumulation and protection products and services to individuals and corporate customers. Tracing its roots back to 1865, Sun Life Financial and its partners today have operations in key markets worldwide, including Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom, Hong Kong, the Philippines, Japan, Indonesia, India, China and Bermuda. As of March 31, 2005, the Sun Life Financial group of companies had total assets under management of $366 billion.

Sun Life Financial Inc. trades on the Toronto (TSX), New York (NYSE) and Philippine (PSE) stock exchanges under ticker symbol SLF.

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