Have you always dreamed of spending a year or two in Canada? Do you want to work at a bistro in Old Montreal, a film festival in Vancouver, or a thriving office in Toronto’s financial district? Or maybe you’d love to hike the trails of the frozen North, working at tourist lodges to finance your travels.

International Experience Canada (IEC) is a program that gives young people from abroad the opportunity to live and work in Canada for up to two years. Participants, who are between 18 and 35 years of age, come from countries that have a special agreement with Canada regarding temporary working holidays.

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Taking part in IEC Canada delivers multiple benefits. You gain valuable work experience in an international setting, allowing you to take your chosen career path to the next level. You can also find inspiration, create lifelong personal and professional connections, and even help position Canada more firmly in the global marketplace. Perhaps one day, you will want to call Canada home.

Like most programs, certain conditions apply. Upon arrival in Canada, you will have to present the following before receiving your work permit:

  •     Your passport and visa (passport must be valid for the entire time you intend to remain in Canada).
  •     Evidence of enough living expenses to sustain you until you find work.
  •     Proof of insurance coverage for the duration of your stay.

The latter is especially important. The IEC program requires you to obtain the proper travel insurance coverage, as the Canadian health care system will not cover you if a medical emergency occurs. Let’s take a closer look at what type of IEC travel insurance you will need and how to obtain it.

What Coverage Is Necessary?

Insurance for the IEC Canada program must have sufficient coverage to protect you financially from unforeseen medical emergencies that may occur during your time in the country. In short, your working holiday travel insurance must meet the following criteria:

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  • Cover basic and emergency medical care, hospitalization, and repatriation (the process of sending your body home should you die on Canadian soil).
  •  Be valid for the duration of your intended stay in Canada.
  • Be available for inspection at the border.

There are a couple of things you should remember while shopping for a policy:

  • If you want to live and work in Canada for a year or two years, don’t buy a shorter policy with the intention of extending it after you’re in the country. If you arrive with coverage that’s effective for three months, the point-of-entry officer may issue you a visa that’s only good for three months. To avoid problems and disappointment at the border, come prepared.
  • Should you find provincial health insurance on offer, be aware that immigration officers will not accept it as sufficient coverage. This is because repatriation costs are not included. Once again, be sure to purchase a policy that’s specially designed for IEC Canada participants. Most insurers who offer these policies advertise them: see here for an example.

Where Can IEC Coverage Be Purchased?iec coverage

Many insurance companies across the globe have put policies together specifically for the IEC market. Your options will vary depending on where you are located when you buy your work insurance for Canada, so some of the more popular solutions are listed below.

  • BestQuote Travel Insurance: This popular Canadian broker offers a wide selection of plans for people needing travel insurance for Canada. Coverage is even available for pre-existing medical conditions, which is a bonus. If you are from the UK, Ireland, France, Australia, or New Zealand, you can purchase two years’ worth of coverage, making it easier for you to receive a two-year visa stamp and stay in Canada longer.
  • True Traveller: Located in the UK, True Traveler provides coverage to IEC Canada participants from 25 European countries and will even issue a policy if you’re already travelling in Canada. Policies can also be extended without you having to come back home first.
  • Worldnomads.com: A firm favourite among backpackers and other adventurous travellers, Worldnomads.com can issue you an IEC travel insurance policy while you’re on the road.
  • USIT: Aimed at travellers from Ireland, USIT offers a two-year insurance policy for IEC Canada participants, providing you with up to €10 million in medical coverage and including five trips back to Ireland.
  • Fast Cover: Fast Cover is the top choice for Australians seeking working holiday travel insurance for Canada. You can only take out a 12-month policy initially, but once it becomes active, you can log in to the ‘Your Policy’ section of the company website and extend it up to the full two years. If you are coming to Canada with a friend or family member,  you can get 5% off a duo policy.
  • DUInsure: Designed for residents of the UK, Australia, or New Zealand who possess an IEC work permit, the DUInsure policy covers all the essentials plus personal effects, luggage, travel cancellations, and other benefits. It is issued for two years as per the work permit requirements.
  • Alpha: UK company Alpha does not have a specific IEC Canada policy, but its long-stay travel coverage is good for up to 24 months and includes all the necessary inclusions. To be eligible, you must not have spent more than six months out of the UK in the year prior to taking out the policy. Proof of intent to return home, such as a lease agreement, is also required.

In Conclusion

The importance of obtaining the right coverage for the IEC Canada program should not be underestimated. Every year, young people arrive from abroad only to be refused an IEC work permit at the border because they did not buy travel insurance beforehand. Remember:

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  • You must have insurance for the full duration of your permit.
  • The insurance policy must be designed to meet the requirements of the IEC program.
  • The coverage must be in effect when you arrive at the Canadian border.

Once you buy a policy that covers all of these bases, you’re ready to begin your great Canadian adventure. Welcome to Canada! May you enjoy some of the most memorable years of your life here.