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Choosing Travel Insurance for Your Working Holiday

Along with filing taxes, buying travel insurance is likely to be the least exciting part of your working holiday. It is, however, a pretty important part. Injury and illness can happen wherever you are in the world, but medical care usually isn’t free outside of your home country. When looking for travel insurance for your working holiday, consider the following:

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Insurance for work AND play

It sounds obvious but before you buy travel insurance, make sure it covers what you will do on your trip. Most standard travel insurance policies only cover pleasure activities, so make sure having a job and working is OK.

If you’re thinking of doing a ski season, coverage for skiing, snowboarding and all manner of other snow-related activities is, (somewhat unsurprisingly) absolutely essential.

Coverage to visit home

A lot can happen in a year or two; sometime during your working holiday, you may find yourself wanting or needing to return to your home country for a short visit or event like a wedding or funeral.

Returning to your home country automatically cancels most travel insurance policies unless specifically stated otherwise, but a minority allow one or two short trips (typically up to 14 days).

Long policies and extensions

With working holidays available in Canada, New Zealand and Australia for up to two years in length, you will, therefore, need travel insurance lasting up to two years in length too.

The problem is that there are not many insurance companies that offer policies of this length. There are however at least a couple of different options for the most common nationalities for working holidays. Head to the bottom of the article to read about these options.

Choosing Travel Insurance for Working Holidays

One-way flight

Flights can usually only be booked 12 months in advance, so if you’ve planned a long trip or prefer being spontaneous, it is very likely you will be flying out on a one-way flight. A fair amount of insurers, however, do not cover people on one-way flights.

The importance of adequate coverage

So maybe you’re reading this thinking you’ll just buy any old policy to satisfy a border guard and it won’t matter too much. The thing is, it does matter because if you actually have to claim on an insurance policy, you want your coverage to be valid. Without a valid policy, your chances of getting any money from your travel insurance are close to nil.

To process a claim, an insurer will ask for all sorts of evidence to support your request such as flight tickets alongside medical receipts. If you have done something to invalidate your insurance (arrived on a one-way flight, visited home one too many times), it is likely to be discovered. And then you’ll be out of luck and money.

Insurance is not always optional

Valid insurance for the entirety of your planned stay is often a condition of your working holiday visa/work permit. Border guards do not necessarily ask everyone for proof of it, but you will be sent home if you do not have it. Simple as that. If you only have six months insurance, you may only be given a visa/work permit for six months.

Secondly, insurance is also important if the worst happens. Or not even the worst happens, as things go. With a working holiday visa in hand, you are still a foreigner in your new country and are not necessarily entitled to the same free or low-cost healthcare other residents are.

Even if you do manage to register for local healthcare through employment or otherwise, it may only cover basic rather than emergency care (did you know you have to pay for ambulances in Canada and Australia?!)

Local healthcare will also not allow you (or your remains) to be flown home to your home country due to serious injury or death. Without insurance, your family would have to pay for this. No-one thinks it will ever happen to them until it does.

Manning Park hiking views - Choosing Working Holiday Travel Insurance

How to search for the best travel insurance for your working holiday

Reading the small print of travel insurance plans is not the most fun, so one idea is to email the company and ask whether their policy covers what you want. This way, you also have their response in writing, which could help for later claims.

As a British citizen, I used True Traveller as my working holiday travel insurance provider (before I became a Permanent Resident of Canada) as they ticked all the boxes for me:

  • 24 month policies available
  • Medical (and personal liability) coverage in the millions of £s
  • One-way flights OK
  • Lots of special activities covered including winter sports
  • Multiple visits home allowed (with no maximum length!)
  • A variety of jobs covered
  • An excellent online reputation of paying out for claims (check the reviews)
  • Policies can be started when ‘already travelling’
  • Extensions possible if on short policy

True Traveller also offer policies for EU citizens, including those from Ireland, Germany and the Netherlands. Not from a country covered by True Traveller? No problem.

Australia – Check out Fast Cover or World Nomads. For Fast Cover, an initial 12-month policy can be purchased and then extended for another 12 months on the departure date. With World Nomads, you’d need to buy 2 x 1 year policies to be covered for 24 months.

New Zealand – Check out World Nomads. With World Nomads, you’d need to buy 2 x 1 year policies to be covered for 24 months.

Not from any of the countries listed? Insurance from World Nomads is available for travellers from over 140 countries. Easy to buy online, policies can be started if you’ve already started travelling.

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Check out these other posts about working holidays


Saturday 4th of January 2020

Canadian here! Looking to buy a travel health insurance for a working holiday visa to Sweden for up to a year. I'm finding it hard to find options =( It also needs to have a cancellation policy in case my visa is rejected, and hopefully has the option for short visits home.

Any leads appreciated. Thanks!


Saturday 4th of January 2020

As a Canadian, I personally use World Nomads. Visits home are allowed. Most insurance providers offer a short window for cancellation after the initial purchase. So I'd suggest that you don't purchase the insurance until the last minute, if possible.


Wednesday 3rd of June 2015

Hi Gemma,

Thanks for such useful information. I was wondering whether all insurance companies that offer insurance compatible with IEC is around the same price as True Traveller.



Thursday 4th of June 2015

Hi Harriet,

There are only a few companies out there that offer 2 year travel insurance for British IEC participants. There are a couple that are cheaper than TT.