One of the essential requirements of most working holiday programs is to be able to show adequate travel insurance on your arrival for the length of your intended stay. The insurance policy usually has to cover medical care, hospitalisation and repatriation. There is a simple reason why working holiday travel insurance is mandatory; medical care is expensive.

Despite this requirement, there are still many people every year who consider not purchasing travel insurance for their working holiday. Here are the most common excuses for not having working holiday travel insurance, debunked.

I don’t need insurance because I will be covered by local healthcare services at my destination

As a working holiday participant, you will be a temporary resident in a foreign country. This does not give automatic entitlement to use local health care services for free, if at all. In some popular working holiday locations, there is a monthly fee for eligible residents to use healthcare services. Sometimes, this fee is more expensive than standard working holiday travel insurance.

Working holiday travel insurance must cover repatriation. This basically means that you will be returned to your home country in case of severe illness/injury or death. Repatriation costs thousands of dollars or pounds wherever you are in the world. Local healthcare services will not provide this for someone on a working holiday. Some jobs offer health insurance as a benefit but still, repatriation will not be covered.

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Working holiday travel insurance is too expensive

A simple answer – if you cannot afford insurance for your working holiday, you cannot afford to go on a working holiday. Most standard 24 month working holiday travel insurance policies cost less than $1 or £1 a day for a lot of nationalities. To put it into perspective, an ambulance ride in Canada can cost up to $530.

Alongside the flight, working holiday visa and initial living funds, travel insurance is a mandatory expense of a working holiday. If you cannot afford travel insurance for your working holiday, you definitely cannot afford the potential medical or repatriation costs should the worst happen on your trip.

I don’t need insurance as I won’t be doing anything risky

Even if you do not plan to go bungy jumping in Queenstown or snowboarding in Whistler, the truth is that any kind of activity on your trip holds some kind of risk. People get injured every day at work or while walking down the street. You may never get sick at home or consider yourself an exceptionally safe person but with the realities and randomness of life, nothing can be guaranteed. There is a 99.99% chance you won’t have to use your working holiday travel insurance, but it’s better to be safe than sorry.

They don’t check travel insurance coverage at the border

It is true that not every participant will have their working holiday travel insurance checked at the border. There are, however, plenty of people who do get asked. If it is requested and you do not hold a valid policy for the length of your intended stay (or not at all), you may receive a shortened work permit or be sent home. You will not be able to apply again or get your work permit extended.


I can’t find travel insurance because I’m going for 24 months or I’m already travelling

The majority of travel insurance companies only cover short trips starting from your home country. Luckily, there are a number of companies that specialise in long-term travelling/backpacker policies. Some companies even specifically target the working holiday market.

Available for citizens of most EU countries, True Traveller offers 24-month plans which can be purchased even if you have already left your home country. World Nomads provides travel insurance for travellers from over 140 countries and policies can be started when already travelling or extended while still away.

Note that the terms and conditions of every travel insurance policy wording/description is unique and extremely detailed. For this reason, it is extremely important to check carefully before purchasing. If you do not purchase an insurance policy that matches what you intend to do, it may be invalid if you need to claim. Working holiday participants need specialist insurance that will cover long-term travel and work abroad.

READ NEXT: Insurance Options for Working Holidays in Canada

5 Myths of Working Holiday Travel Insurance-Kluane Glacier Air Tours flight glacier

Always read the policy wording to decide which working holiday travel insurance provider and policy is right for you. Some of the above links are affiliate links. If you click through and buy insurance, I will receive a small percentage at no extra cost to you. This helps support this website and enables me to write more useful content!

5 myths of working holiday travel insurance


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One half of a Canadian/British couple currently based in British Columbia, Canada. Gemma is happiest when hiking on the trail or planning the next big travel adventure.


  1. Hi Gemma, I am about to embark on a working holiday to Canada and I must say that all of your blogs have been an immense help, both in terms of giving me ideas but also that I am well prepared. I am in the process of sorting travel insurance with True Traveller. Would you know if it is necessary to include only Canada as your destination or can you opt for \’Worldwide inc Canada and USA\’. Aka is it likely that the border officer would snub insurance that has world coverage as opposed to Canada when you intend to work there?

    • Gemma
      Gemma Reply

      Hi Adam,

      Most insurance policies I have come across for Canada include travel to the USA and the rest of the world as standard, so no, I don’t foresee you having any issues with a Worldwide policy.

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