Guide to a Working Holiday in Canada (free illustrated PDF guide)

Chapter 10: How can I find the best health insurance policy?

Published: 02-03-2020



How can I find the best health insurance policy?

When you arrive in Canada, you must have health insurance valid for your entire stay. The government of Canada requires a health insurance plan covering “medical care, hospitalization, and repatriation.”

Why would I need health insurance?

As a WHP holder, you aren’t eligible for health coverage through provincial or territorial health insurance plans in Canada. Your home country won’t cover your health expenses abroad—you’re on your own.

Healthcare is expensive in Canada. Sure, you may be able to pay $80 (or more) for a quick prescription at the walk-in clinic. But what if you have a sprained ankle, a broken leg, or need surgery for appendicitis? We’re talking about healthcare bills in the thousands of dollars. One WHP holder who didn’t have health insurance received an $11,000 bill. The fine print? Pay it or else jail and deportation.

Border services officers don’t always ask to see proof of health insurance but taking the chance isn’t worth it. Not only is buying health insurance the smart thing to do but you may be refused entry if you do not have insurance.

Don’t try to outsmart the system to save money. If your insurance policy is valid for less than your expected stay, you will be issued a work permit that expires at the same time as your insurance. If this happens, you will not be able to apply to change the conditions of your work permit at a later date. So if your insurance policy covers you for three months, you’ll be issued a WHP valid for three months only.

How about a good deal? Globe WHV will refund the remaining months on your policy if you go home earlier than planned and won’t travel back to Canada. To be eligible, there must be at least two months left on your policy, regardless of your claim history. This is a great perk most insurance policies don’t offer, so buy the 12-month coverage you need!

Beyond the legal requirement, buying insurance is just the smart thing to do. You’re going to be in Canada for a year, accidents and health issue do happen. Don’t skimp on insurance, it’s not worth the headache. Budget for good insurance coverage and leave home knowing that whatever happens, you won’t have to face huge medical bills.

Reading the fine print matters

Let’s face it, reading insurance coverage fine print and comparing various offers is a tedious task. However, it’s the best way to find the best coverage and the best deal.

Ask yourself the following questions:

  • Does the insurance policy cover a stay in Canada?
  • Does it also cover you for short trips outside Canada (United States, Mexico, Caribbean, etc.)
  • Does it provide coverage for up to 24 months?
  • Does it cover medical care, hospitalization and repatriation (as required by the Canadian government)?
  • Are there deductibles? I.e. in the event of a claim, do you have to pay a certain amount out of pocket?
  • Are claims paid based on medical fees incurred or based on customary fees for similar medical care in your home country?
  • Is there a maximum coverage? Is there an overall maximum limit, a combined amount limit, a limit for each type of claim?
  • Are there any exclusions? I.e. extreme sports, dental care, chronic conditions, etc.

How much do you need?

How much do you really need to buy? $15,000 in emergency medical benefits, or $50,000?

Every insurance company sets a maximum amount of coverage for certain benefits. These limits may be per claim or over the entire duration of the policy. For instance, the maximum for dental care could be $1,000, and you will have the pay the rest if the bill is higher.

Healthcare is expensive in Canada, so make sure the maximum limit is high enough.

Claim payments and deductibles

Check if the insurance company pays claims based on original receipts or invoices or if reimbursement is limited to what the service would have cost if done in your home country. Since healthcare in Canada is more expensive than in many countries, it’s important that the fees you incurred are reimbursed based on the documentation you provide when you submit a claim.

Most of the time, when you submit a claim, you will have to pay the deductible. For instance, if the deductible is $30 and you paid $100 to see a doctor, the insurance will only cover $70. Occasionally, the deductible is higher than the claim. Try to find an insurance with low or no deductibles.

Check insurance exclusions carefully

An exclusion is a policy provision that eliminates coverage for certain types of risk. Exclusions depend on the company you chose. Pre-existing conditions are invariably excluded from coverage.

A few insurance companies are willing to cover certain activities if you purchase extended coverage. Check if you’re covered if you want to go scuba diving, parachuting or skiing. If you join a sports league of a recreational club, insurance coverage should be included in your membership fees.

Do I need any other types of insurance policies?

Travel insurance companies typically offer a medical plan (covering medical expenses), as well as a trip cancellation plan (coverage if your trip is unexpectedly cancelled, interrupted or delayed) and a baggage loss, damage and delay plan. You might consider the latter two, which are not a requirement when applying for a WHP.

Personal liability insurance coverage protects you when you unintentionally injure someone or damage their property. Home insurance policies you or your parents may hold as homeowners often include liability insurance and they may provide worldwide coverage. Check with your insurance company before you leave.

In Canada, the law does not require a tenant to have renter’s insurance and your landlord cannot force you to get it. However, it’s advisable to purchase coverage. Typically, renter’s insurance can help you replace your belongings after a loss due to theft, fire, or water damage and protects you if someone gets hurt or if someone else’s property is damaged because of your negligence. Shop around, but coverage could be around $20-$30 per month.

If you’re renting a car in Canada, you may be covered by your Canadian renter’s assurance, if applicable. Otherwise, rental companies sell supplemental liability protection (SLP), personal accident insurance (PAI) and personal effects coverage (PEC).

When and how should I buy my insurance policy?

Most insurance companies recommend—or require—you to buy coverage before the trip starts to be fully covered. So it’s best to buy your insurance policy before going to Canada, even if you’re a visitor before activating your WHP.

It’s inadvisable to buy coverage for a few months and then extend it once in Canada. Border officers often ask to see proof of insurance and could issue a WHP that expires at the same date as your insurance policy. If you do choose to extend your policy or top up your coverage, make sure there’s no gap to stay covered.

Most of the time, you can buy your travel insurance policy online. You just have to fill out the form and pay with a credit card, then you’ll receive a confirmation and your policy by email.

If you’re going to Canada with your partner or as a family, each person must have an insurance plan, you can’t add a person to your plan.

How much should I budget for my insurance policy?

Much like with any product or service, the most expensive one isn’t necessarily the best choice. There are many companies, many offers and many terms and conditions—compare them to get the best deal that meets your needs and works for you.

On average, a 12-month health insurance plan is between $500 and $650. This is part of your travel budget along with your plane ticket and living expenses.

Most credit cards, such as MasterCard, Visa and Amex, offer some kind of travel insurance coverage when you book your trip with your card. However, check the fine print carefully as the longest coverage offered is usually 90 days or very occasionally 180 days. A 90-day coverage can work if you’re going to Canada for three months but if you’re staying longer, there’s a risk that your credit card company won’t even cover these first three months. If it does, you still need longer coverage—remember, the border officer may ask for proof of insurance for the entire duration of your stay.

If you decided to use your credit card travel insurance, check the fine print to make sure medical care, hospitalization and repatriation are covered and bring a copy of the policy to show the border officer if requested.

GLOBE WHV (ACS) The top choice for those embarking on a Working Holiday, International Co-op or Young Professionals adventure! A comprehensive health insurance policy covering medical care, hospitalization, and repatriation as required by the Government of Canada.
Customer support offered daily on our discussion forum.
Refund of the remaining months of insurance on your policy if you go home earlier than planned.

• Check out this page
• Send a message to the ACS team has been recommending Globe WHV for 10 years. This company offers a plan specifically designed to meet the needs of travellers with a Working Holiday Visa or another IEC work permit (Young Professionals and International Co-op Internship). You’ll get great value and awesome customer service—the team even answers questions on our forum! For more information…

Chapter 10 of 34


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