The International Experience Canada (IEC) program allows young people between the ages of 18 to 35 to temporarily work in Canada for up to two years. Citizens from more than 30 countries are eligible to apply. Among the IEC program’s eligibility requirements is proof of health insurance that provides coverage for medical care, hospitalization and repatriation. This is to ensure visitors can pay for their own costs related to emergency accidents, injury or illness. Many Canadian insurance companies offer insurance plans for visitors to Canada that meet the requirements of IEC and other visa programs.
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IEC program applicants can apply through one of three categories: working holiday (open work permit), young professional (employer-specific work permit) and international co-op (internships and students). Each of these categories requires health insurance. When you arrive in Canada, you’ll need to show immigration officers your proof of insurance (along with other required documents) before receiving your work permit.
It’s important to note that IEC insurance only covers unforeseen accidents and emergencies, not the cost of routine medical care or any medical issue arising from pre-existing conditions. Alcohol-related injuries and mishaps are also excluded from most policies. If you plan to explore Canada’s great outdoors and partake in activities like skiing, snowboarding, snowmobiling, mountain biking, hiking or camping, it’s important to make sure those activities are covered under your insurance policy. Some IEC insurance policies provide inclusive coverage for non-competitive sports and recreational outdoor activities, while others charge extra (especially for “high risk” activities like rock climbing, skydiving or bungee jumping).
It’s also important to check whether your IEC travel insurance policy allows you to return to your home country for a visit without voiding your coverage. This is important whether you’re planning to visit home for a holiday or special occasion, or if you unexpectedly need to return home because of an emergency. Depending on the policy, home visits may be allowed as long as your policy is in place for a minimum amount of time, or as long as you spend a required minimum amount of time in Canada during the coverage period. In some cases, coverage will stop when you leave Canada, but resume when you return.
When getting an IEC medical insurance quote, make sure to go beyond the policy highlights and read the detailed plan description for a full list of benefits, exclusions and limitations.