Life insurance calculator

Canada Life was making a conscious effort to create tools and calculators that allowed customers to gain an insight into their health and financial state in an interactive and educational way, but with low investment. The first of these initiatives was to design an insurance calculator that allows users to calculate how much coverage their loved ones would need in the case of an untimely death. In order to educate users about their life insurance needs, I designed an experience that allowed them to understand how their individual needs could be applied to an existing policy.

project goals

  • Increase the number of users connecting with an advisor.
  • Draw clients to our site.
  • Increase life insurance product sales.
  • Help customers receive personalized advice about how to achieve their financial goals.
  • Allow customers to get a quote or an estimate quickly and easily.

research and strategy 

Our research attempted to shed light on the current competitive landscape, looking at both our direct competitors as well as disruptors in the industry. I analyzed existing tools, taking note of effective patterns I could leverage, and assessing criteria such as language, accessibility, ease of use, graphics and responsiveness. The competitive analysis can be found below.

Our strategy was based in understanding user intent when interacting with such a tool, and we learned that customers are motivated to use this tool due to the expectation of a life event, such as a birth, a death, home ownership, marriage, or change in status. Insurance buyers, as a result, are emotionally motivated. As a result of this, three main challenges were identified, along with possible solutions that could alleviate those challenges.

  1. Lack of financial literacy: Educate users along the way, allowing them to understand processes and procedures, and adjust copy to make conversion align with their mental models. In addition, ensure that messaging focuses on immediate benefits and value, and is communicated in a clear and simple manner.
  1. Misconceptions and uncertainties: There is a strong desire for clear and transparent communication and language so customers can determine what and how much to buy, and learn about the differences between products in an easy to follow digital experience. In addition, ensure that product convenient by providing customer the ability to get quotes online, with no obligation.
  1. Fear: Position insurance in terms of emotionally resonant values along with positive messaging to ensure that customers have a level of trust and confidence in our products and company.


  • Must educate users and provide context around the calculator they will be interacting with in order for them to make informed decisions.
  • Ensure that we recommend a product that is in line with their input and goals.
  • Contextualize the ‘Call to Action’ to align with their intent.
  • Calculator must be helpful and informative so that users are persuaded to inquire more about purchasing a product.
  • Solutions and outputs need to be personalized, so that data can move from product page to calculator and vice versa.
  • Calculators must be mobile-first.
  • Calculators must be in line with modular design so it can be moved within the site efficiently.

ideation and wireframes 

A collaborative ideation phase took place with internal team members to define potential design solutions that were in line with business goals, user intent and industry best practices. This then led to the first round of wireframes. The following design considerations were outlined and adhered to:

Provide context: Calculator lives on pages that educate users about that topic, and includes a kickstarter component to launch users into the experience. Related articles at the bottom of the page allows users to get a better understanding of insurance as a whole.

Dialogue and storytelling: Provide an educational experience by allowing users to understand why we’re asking them the questions we’re asking, and how it will be used to provide them with an estimate. Reducing cognitive load on users and instead focusing on the story will create a seamless and effective experience.

Guided experience: Clearly show steps needed to complete the tool, their progress, a running summary of what they have completed so far, and the ability to go back, edit, and start over.

Personalization: Four different scenarios are included. Based on the question of: ‘Who are you protecting?’, users can choose the option that applies to them. In addition, specific calls to action on the results page will direct users to next steps that are aligned with their inputs.

usability testing and findings 

When the first round of designs were completed, I worked with our research team to draft a usability testing plan that could validate some of the assumptions and hypotheses we had made to inform our design decisions. In addition, we were looking for overall ease of use, as any blockers in terms of users understanding the information and interactions. Below is a summary of the three most important findings, as well a few patterns and insights that were taken into consideration for the next iteration.

Patterns and insights 

  1. Users are curious to know how we got the numbers. A breakdown of our calculations provides useful information they require.
  2. Users would either talk to an advisor or check out an associated product as next steps.
  3. One participant mentioned the benefits of including common insurance policies we sell so they understand the calculation in relation to their results.
  4. Level of trust associated with calculator, as all users were comfortable sharing personal information about their finances.
  5. All users thought the email and save options were beneficial, and the feature aligned with user behaviour, for example wanting to keep a copy for future reference.
  6. All participants found the experience seamless and easy to use and understand.

final design  

View clickable prototype here.

next steps, impact and lessons learned 

The final product was a successful tool that elevates the customer experience into something more interactive, providing personalized results. Despite the fact that the tool has not launched yet, there were many key takeaways that will carry forward in other products that we design in the organization. For example, the interactive storytelling and educational content are design principles that will apply to many other products and services going forward, and have changed the way the business perceives both our approach to design as well as interactive tools and calculators as a whole. Due to business priorities, the life insurance calculator was shelved and instead the team built two other tools that were informed by this strategy.

You can view the Retirement Calculator here.

You can view the Risk Calculator here.