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 March 2023
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.
Please research each company to ensure that the coverage is right for you. The specifics of the coverage can change at any time. Read the policy wording to make sure that you are covered.
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 – Fast Cover and HeyMondo
With Fast Cover, an initial IEC 12-month policy can be purchased and then extended for another 12 months on the departure date.
Optional winter sports coverage is available for an additional fee. Fast Cover policies cannot be started when already abroad.
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. Note that HeyMondo does not offer winter sports coverage.
Alternatively, look at BestQuote (note lower medical coverage), Cover More (12 months only, would need to purchase another year with another company such as HeyMondo) or World Nomads.
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.
Alternatively, look at BestQuote (note lower medical coverage) or World Nomads.
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.
Found this post helpful? Subscribe to our IEC newsletter!
Working holiday advice and updates delivered straight to your inbox, with a FREE printable IEC packing list
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
Tuesday 5th of November 2019
Hi Gemma! Currently helping my British fiance figure out flights since he has been accepted for IEC. A little anxious that he will not receive his full 24 month permit if we buy return flights (since return flights only go aprox. 10 months ahead). Should we just splurge and buy the stupidley expensive one way ticket, or can we purchase a round trip ticket and just not use the return ticket? Do the border agents even ask for a return ticket or do they just expect that we won't have one since its an open 24 month work permit? Do you think he would just be able to tell the border agent, if asked, that he does have a return flight 3 days after his arrival flight but plans to cancel it because it's cheaper, then proceed to show the agent proof of funds for a return flight?
Monday 11th of November 2019
The good news is that you don't need a return ticket at all, just proof to be able to purchase one if needed. And for that, a credit card can be shown. Hope that helps!
Thursday 16th of May 2019
Hi Gemma, the question I have, do you have to pay the one year insurance all upfront or is it possible to pay monthly? My travel insurance offered it and I am wondering now if this would be accepted.
Saturday 18th of May 2019
It needs to be upfront, not monthly. A monthly policy can be cancelled at any time so hence is not proof of insurance for the entire length of your trip.
Wednesday 14th of June 2017
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 :)
Thursday 15th of June 2017
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.
Saturday 14th of January 2017
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. :-)
Tuesday 17th of January 2017
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.
Sunday 18th of December 2016
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?
Sunday 18th of December 2016
The only insurance company I am aware of that will cover Australians starting a policy away from Australia is World Nomads