The International Experience Canada (IEC) Working Holiday program offers young people the chance to live and work in Canada for up to two years. It is an amazing opportunity but there is a couple of rules to abide by when taking part in the IEC.
One of these is the program requirement to have comprehensive health insurance while in Canada. This article will help you find the best travel insurance for Canada.
Last updated November 2022
The importance of travel insurance for Canada
As mentioned, it is a mandatory part of the IEC program to have health insurance for the length of your stay in Canada.
If you go to Canada without appropriate IEC travel insurance, you may receive a shortened work permit and/or be refused one altogether.
Those who do receive a shortened work permit are unable to extend or adjust the work permit later. This happens to more people than you would think!
As per the IEC rules, your health insurance for Canada must cover:
- medical care,
- hospitalization, and
- repatriation (returning you to your country in the event of severe illness, injury or death).
Be sure to buy the best travel insurance for Canada. Taking part in the IEC program is a once in a lifetime opportunity for most people – don’t waste this opportunity.
Thinking beyond the IEC requirement for insurance, you should also be aware that medical care in Canada can be very expensive.
Emergency room visits for relatively simple injuries can easily run up a bill of thousands of dollars. Saving money on buying travel insurance for Canada can turn out to be an expensive mistake.
Buying the best IEC Travel Insurance
There is not one perfect working holiday travel insurance policy for Canada. Everyone has different requirements and circumstances.
The best working holiday travel insurance for Canada is the one that suits your own needs.
Before purchasing travel insurance for Canada, you may want to check factors such as:
- The type of activities that are covered. Climbing, kayaking and even hiking may have an additional premium
- Whether it is possible to return home for a short time and still have valid insurance coverage on return. Some policies become invalidated as soon as you reach home
- Residency requirements to purchase. Some IEC travel insurance policies require a minimum time spent resident in your home country before purchase
- Whether the policy can be started abroad if you are already travelling elsewhere. Most insurers are limited to only covering those who haven’t left home yet
- Winter sports coverage options. Even if you do not plan to work a ski season or live in a mountainous area, things can change
- The excess cost on the policy. This is the amount you have to pay when making a claim
Finding Travel Insurance for Canada
Canada’s IEC program offers some of the longest working holiday options available in the world.
For this reason, one of the biggest problems with buying the best IEC travel insurance is finding a company that offers two year travel insurance for Canada.
It can be such a rare occurrence that some working holiday companies advise their clients that there is no such thing. This is absolutely not true.
Another thing to remember is that the cheapest travel insurance for Canada may not be the best travel insurance for you. Be sure to look at the coverage limits and whether the policy is suitable for your travel plans.
Some of the links in this post are affiliate links. If you buy IEC insurance through one of these links, I may receive a small percentage of the sale at no extra cost to you.
Options for IEC travel insurance
With all of the above in mind, read on for my research into the best IEC travel insurance for Canada.
UK and EU citizens – True Traveller
Travel insurance policies with True Traveller are available up to 24 months in length. Policies can be started if you are already travelling.
Unlimited visits home are also allowed, with the insurance cover being suspended when in your home country. Winter sports coverage is available and there are no minimum residency requirements.
92 activities are covered as standard with True Traveller, including horse riding and bungee jumping. If you need coverage for more activities (such as rock climbing), an additional activity pack can be selected.
I used True Traveller insurance for my second working holiday in Canada, back in the days when Brits could get 2 x 1-year work permits.
I (luckily) never had to claim but you can read about experiences in my IEC Facebook Discussion group. If you do need to claim yourself, it is possible to do so while still in Canada.
Australian citizens – HeyMondo
HeyMondo offers single trip policies up to 12 months in length. Coverage for Covid-19 is included as standard as well as up to $10 million for emergency medical and dental expenses.
To have coverage for a full 24 month IEC working holiday, simply purchase 2 x one-year policies before leaving for Canada. For the second policy, you’ll need to tick the ‘already travelling’ box for it to be valid.
There is a 5% discount available for HeyMondo if you use this link when purchasing.
Australian citizens – Cover More
An alternative to HeyMondo would be Cover More. It’s possible to purchase 2 x 12 month policies for the full 24 months of IEC coverage.
Cover More allows policies to be started while abroad, though there is technically no coverage for the first three days of that policy. Cover-More has additional winter sports coverage available.
New Zealand citizens – HeyMondo
HeyMondo includes coverage for Covid and up to $10 million of medical expenses. There is, however, no ski cover available.
For 23 months of coverage with HeyMondo, you’ll need to purchase a 12 month policy and then another 11 month policy. Make sure to tick the ‘already travelling’ box when purchasing the second policy.
New Zealand citizens – Cover More
Cover More offers one year policies for New Zealand citizens, with additional ski coverage available. Since Cover-More allows policies to be started when ‘already travelling,’ it is possible to purchase a 1 year policy and then a second 11 month policy to cover Kiwis’ full 23 month IEC work permit time.
For citizens of 100+ countries – World Nomads
Insurance from World Nomads is available for travellers from around the world, including Australians, Kiwis, Brits and Irish citizens.
World Nomads policies are easy to buy online and include a World Nomad policies can be started if you’re already travelling.
For a full 24 month IEC working holiday coverage, it is possible to buy 2 x one year policies.
World Nomad’s standard policy includes almost 100 different activities, ranging from curling and ice fishing to hiking and canoeing. Winter sports coverage is also available for an additional premium.
JR and I have both used World Nomads a bunch of times. Their service has always been fast and their policies covered exactly what we needed on each trip. We’ve also had to claim once – a reasonably painless experience on the actual insurance side of things!
For citizens of 100+ countries – BestQuote
BestQuote are travel insurance specialists, partnered with some of the largest and most reputable insurance providers in Canada. Through them, it is possible to review, compare and purchase IEC specific insurance policies with up to 2 years of coverage.
The 2 year IEC policies cover basic (non-competitive) ski cover as standard. Some options also include coverage for Covid19 related claims.
There are various medical coverage amounts available (most starting at $100,000), and adjustable excess levels as well. Please note that this medical coverage is lower than the other insurance providers mentioned on this page.
Working Holiday Travel Insurance for Canada: The Small Print
Always read the policy wording to decide which IEC travel insurance provider and policy is right for you. As noted above, the best travel insurance for Canada isn’t necessarily perfect for everyone.
All details of IEC travel insurance providers mentioned above correct at time of writing but are subject to change.
The above companies also offer standard travel insurance for short term holidays as well as working holiday insurance for Canada.
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Check out these other posts about working holidays in Canada
One half of the Canadian/British couple behind Off Track Travel, Gemma is happiest when hiking on the trail or planning the next big travel adventure. JR and Gemma are currently based in the beautiful Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, Canada