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 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 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 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 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 UK and EU Citizens*
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.
*EU citizens are currently unable to buy coverage due to Brexit related changes. TT are working to rectify this
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.
Due to Australian travel advisories, Fast Cover is not currently selling policies (March 2020 onwards)
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. We’ve also had to claim once – a reasonably painless experience on the actual insurance side of things!
BestQuote – Available for citizens of over 140 countries
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 coverage amounts available, (most starting at $100,000) and adjustable excess levels as well.
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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