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Whether you're planning a temporary visit or temporary move (with a temporary work permit), there are many companies offering travel insurance for Canada -- and health insurance as well. But which policy will meet your needs?

Not all travel insurance or health insurance policies are created equal for your stay in Canada. Your plans will dramatically impact the type of coverage you need, so you will need to consider the following (amongst other factors):

  • The length of your stay.
  • Which provinces and territories you plan to visit.
  • Your age and health status.
  • Your planned activities while you stay (snow sports and other adventure sports may require specific coverage).
  • Where you are when you buy the policy (are you already in Canada? Or are you currently in your home country?)
  • Any supplementary coverage you might need.
  • Whether you need specific insurance to receive your work permit.

It’s important that you find coverage that’s tailored, meets your needs, and is affordable.

What’s the difference between travel insurance for Canada vs. health insurance?

Health insurance is designed specifically to cover medical expenses. Travel insurance can cover a range of different costs, which may include things like trip cancellation, lost luggage, medical costs, and repatriation. Notably, some travel insurance packages actually include health insurance coverage, so you may not need to buy them separately.

Health Insurance for Permanent Residents in Canada

If you are moving to Canada through a permanent residence program, you may eventually enjoy publicly-funded healthcare in Canada — but you won’t be covered for the first few months after landing. The reason for this is that it often takes a few months for your provincial or territorial health coverage to kick in. This means that you should consider health insurance for these first months in case of any emergencies.

Health Insurance for Temporary Residents in Canada

While you may get coverage in the province or territory you settle in,  you may also need to wait several months for the coverage to kick in if you are moving to Canada on a study permit or on a work permit (with some exceptions, see below). It’s important for you and your family, if applicable, to get quality health insurance for those early months, both Cigna Global and BestQuote are leaders in these policies. Get a quote from Cigna and a quote from BestQuote to begin comparing your options.

IEC Work Permit

If you’re participating in the IEC Working Holiday Visa in Canada program, you are required to have health insurance that covers the full duration of your work permit and insurance that will cover repatriation costs. Oftentimes, you can purchase a package for travel insurance for Canada which will cover all IEC requirements, including for health insurance.

You need this insurance even if you become eligible for provincial healthcare and medical cover from your employment in due course.

We always recommend beginning with BestQuote as they will offer you a comparison of rates for many different options on the market. Get your free quote from BestQuote today.

Quick note: British Columbia and Alberta are world-famous for skiing and snowboarding. If you want to hit the slopes, make certain your Canadian travel insurance policy contains coverage for any potential injuries.

Where will you be buying your travel insurance or health insurance for Canada?

Where you are in the world impacts the insurers that will be available to you. Scroll through the insurers below to see if they’re available in your current region:

BestQuote Travel Insurance

Best Quote Travel Insurance is a full-service Canadian travel insurance broker offering the widest selection of travel insurance plans for visitors to Canada. Available plans may include health coverage, coverage for up to 24 months, and coverage related to pre-existing medical conditions. Plans are available before or after leaving home. Get your quote from BestQuote today!

Best Quote Travel Insurance is available to travellers currently in:

  • The UK
  • The rest of Europe
  • Australia
  • New Zealand
  • Canada
  • The rest of the world.

True Traveller

True Traveller is a popular option for Europeans seeking mandatory insurance for International Experience Canada (IEC), including the Working Holiday program. True Traveller’s IEC insurance covers medical care, hospitalization, and repatriation, and it exceeds IRCC’s mandatory requirements. Get your quote from True Traveller today!

True Traveller policies are available to people currently in:

  • The UK
  • The rest of Europe

Fast Cover Travel Insurance

One company of choice for Australian IEC participants seeking travel insurance for Canada. Options for 12 and 24 months, and a range of products from medical only to comprehensive, snow sports, and adventure activities. Duo policies, for couples or two friends travelling together, get 5% off. Get a quote from Fast Cover, only available for individuals currently in Australia.

Have You Already Left Your Country of Residence?

If you are already travelling, you will have more limited options for coverage. Many insurers will only cover people who buy the coverage before they leave for their travels.

Best Quote is one insurer that offers coverage for travellers who have already left for their travels. We recommend seeking a quote from Best Quote if this applies to you.

Get A Free Quote

Cigna Global

Permanent residence applicants may want insurance during the waiting period for provincial coverage or to cover extras after landing in Canada for additional peace of mind.

Expatriate health insurance ensures access to the best possible healthcare while living and working abroad. Cigna Global is a leader in these policies and provides 12-month cover for those moving to Canada, regardless of nationality or age.

Click here to get a free online quote.

Why IEC work permit holders need health insurance (and may want travel insurance for Canada)

1. It’s mandatory for IEC work permits.

Every year, we hear countless stories from people who aren’t issued with an IEC work permit because they didn’t buy Canadian health insurance. The rules clearly state that you must have insurance for the full duration of your work permit (e.g. two years).

2. You can’t buy a short policy, and then extend it later.

Again, the rules are clear: you can’t buy a three-month policy and agree to extend it to a two-year policy just to appease the immigration officer.

For example, if you only buy health insurance on a three-month or six-month policy, then the immigration officer is within their rights to issue only a three-month or six-month visa. This cannot be extended at a later date.

3. Provincial insurance doesn’t give the coverage you need.

Provincial insurance that’s on offer is not accepted as adequate by federal immigration officers. This is because it will not cover repatriation costs, i.e. flying you to your home country in the event of death.

Other costs not included in provincial cover included: dental accidents, ambulance, medications, medical devices like casts and crutches, and trips to the US and Mexico. BestQuote has these options and will enable you to compare rates from many different insurance providers. Get your quote from BestQuote today!

4. Nobody likes paying for insurance, but the alternative could be a lot worse.

You buy insurance in case the worst happens. Often, we feel it’s a waste if that big event does not happen. As an adult, we encourage you to be responsible, as your family would not appreciate a $20,000 hospital bill in the event of serious injury or death and your repatriation home.

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About the author

Hugo O'Doherty profile picture

Hugo O'Doherty

Canadian Immigration & Integration Specialist
Hugo O’Doherty has over a decade of experience and research in Canadian immigration, establishing him as a recognized authority on immigrant integration and adaptation. His personal and professional experiences with immigration have made him an expert on the practical aspects of successfully moving to and settling in Canada.
Read more about Hugo O'Doherty
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