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 requirement to have comprehensive health insurance while in Canada. This article will help you find the best travel insurance for Canada.

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. If you do receive a shortened work permit, there is no way to extend 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 is 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.

forest hiking cape chignecto trail

 

Buying the best IEC Travel Insurance

There is no such thing as the perfect working holiday travel insurance for Canada- everyone has different requirements and circumstances. 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 timeand 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 abroadif 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 IEC travel insurance is finding a company that offers 2 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 buying the cheapest travel insurance for Canada usually isn’t a good idea. Be sure to look at the coverage limits and whether the policy is suitable for your plans.

Some of the links in this post are affiliate links, which means if you buy IEC insurance through this click I receive a small percentage 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.

True Traveller Available for EU citizens (including the UK)

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 positive experiences in my IEC Facebook Discussion group. If you do need to claim yourself, it is possible to do so while still in Canada.

Fast Cover – Available for Australians

Fast Cover offers IEC specific policies up to an initial 12 months in length, which can then be easily extended online for another 12 months on your departure date. This totals the full 24 months needed for the IEC working holiday for Australians.

If you get a policy with Fast Cover, you can travel home as many times as you like and also leave Australia on a one-way ticket. It is also not necessary to have a return ticket home in order to claim on the policy.

Fast Cover policies include coverage for a long list of activities you may do in Canada including kayaking, hiking, dog sledding and white water rafting. There is also winter sports coverage available.

World Nomads Available for citizens of over 140 countries

Insurance from World Nomads is available for travellers from around the world, including Australians, Kiwis, Brits, Germans 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. To have coverage for a full 24 month IEC working holiday, simply purchase 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 always cover exactly what we need.

Down Under Insurance Available for Kiwis

Down Under has a specific 23 month IEC policy for NZ residents. There are two levels of IEC policy available, one with winter sports coverage and a standard one without. There is unlimited medical coverage included in this policy.

Returning home for a visit on Down Under’s IEC policy is no problem at all. The insurance coverage is suspended while in New Zealand and then restarted upon leaving again.

 

Manning Park hiking views - Choosing Working Holiday Travel Insurance

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.

 

Insurance Options for Working Holidays in Canada. 24 month insurance policies can be hard to find, but don't worry, I've found them! offtracktravel.caInsurance Options for Working Holidays in Canada. 24 month insurance policies can be hard to find, but don't worry, I've found them! offtracktravel.ca

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Gemma
Author

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

6 Comments

  1. Hi Gemma, I am Australian, currently doing a 2 year working holiday visa in the UK, but traveling to Canada for an IEC. Do you know nay policies I would be able to sign up for?

    • Gemma
      Gemma Reply

      Hi Melinda

      The only insurance company I am aware of that will cover Australians starting a policy away from Australia is World Nomads

  2. Hi Gemma, I have been granted an IEC visa, I want it to be valid for the two years but I don’t want to necessary stay there for two years. The idea is I go for 3/4 months say, before returning home. However, I would like to keep
    my options open and be able to return to Canada in the two year period. I also don’t want to be paying for insurance for the full two years if I am not there. I assume It’s possible to enter and leave Canada as many times as I like during the two year period?

    I applied on my U.K. Passport but I have been living in Australia as a resident, and have become an Australian citizen since being granted my IEC Visa so will be travelling from oz(my Australian address and residency was on my IEC application). So another option I am looking at is if it’s possible to reapply on an Australian passport now I can obtain one, even thought I have been granted the IEC on my uk passport. The reason being is I have to enter Canada by end of June 2017, however I am still in two minds financially as paying off debts and it would be more suitable for me to leave at a later date(I was granted my IEC a lot quicker then anticipated). I will be 31 in November 17 so would have to apply by then with Australian passport.

    Otherwise 3rd option is to go on a holiday before end of June to validate and get the two years granted and then return later(rather then quitting my job and going for 3/4 months as per option one), but again that will go back to my intial question on insurance options to get a visa for two years to come and go as I please, and also if it’s possible to enter and re-enter during the two years.

    Thanks for any input or advice. Sorry it’s long winded but wanted to include all the facts. You run a great site and I have been finding your ebook on whv in Canada most helpful.
    🙂

    • Gemma
      Gemma Reply

      Hey Lucy,

      Wow, a lot of questions! OK, let’s see if I don’t miss anything. You can enter and re-enter Canada with the IEC subject to normal entry requirements (i.e. it is not technically a visa and as such does not guarantee entry). The usual problem with entering and leaving is with insurance. Most insurance policies do not allow you to return to your home country for 10 or more days. Some do not even allow you to return at all without invalidating the policy. To receive the full 2 year work permit on arrival it is necessary to have 2 years insurance – if you do not, then you risk being given a work permit to the length of your insurance (or no permit at all if you don’t have any insurance).

      Australian insurance by the way (as in, coverage for Australians) is VERY expensive, much more expensive than insurance for UK residents/citizens. Be aware though that you may not be eligible for many UK insurance policies as you have not been resident there for a while.

      It seems like you have two options –

      Go to Canada before your POE expires, activate your work permit with two years insurance. If you need to go home directly afterwards, that is OK, provided your insurance provider allows it (as mentioned, not many do and only for a short time). True Traveller allows you to return home for an indefinite time period without invalidating your policy is True Traveller. With your living situation, they are also one of the few UK insurers that you may be eligible to get a policy with.

      Second option is to apply for the Australian quota. I would do this before September as the pools closed in early autumn last year. You must receive an invite before your 31st birthday to be eligible.

  3. Hi Gemma
    I am going to Canada from New Zealand and looking for travel insurance options…and a bit lost. The link for ‘Down Under Insurance’ under New Zealand doesn’t seem to work, even when I searched it on Google. Would you please be able to recommend a travel insurance company / companies for someone going from New Zealand for the full 23 month period?
    Thank you 🙂

    • Gemma
      Gemma Reply

      Hi Sarah,

      The link to Down Under insurance goes directly to the booking page. As mentioned in the description on my page, you will need to call them to purchase the 23/24 month IEC policy. Alternatively, you could also book 2 x 1 year policies with World Nomads who are also linked on this page.

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