Photo by Andre Furtado from Pexels
Over the past few decades Canada has secured its place as one of top tourist and immigrant destinations in the entire world.
As a newcomer to Canada, whether you are a temporary guest or a permanent resident, you should know that although Canada has one of the most accessible healthcare systems for its residents, you might need to obtain private medical coverage called Visitors to Canada Insurance, at least for a while.
Health insurance for Visitors to Canada is an umbrella term that includes medical emergency coverage for people who can legally stay in Canada and are not eligible for or covered by any provincial health insurance plan.
Visitors Insurance: Basics You Need to Know
As we’ve just mentioned, Visitors to Canada insurance provides medical coverage if and when an insured person suffers an accidental injury or a sudden sickness during the period of coverage.
Specifically, insurance terminology uses the word “Emergency” that refers to an unforeseen or unexpected medical condition that requires immediate treatment by licensed medical professionals at properly accredited clinics and hospitals.
Covered services will commonly include visits to a physician, hospital admission and accommodation, prescription medications, laboratory tests and diagnostics, dental damage and pain relief treatment among other benefits that would slightly differ based on the insurance provider.
Restrictions on Routine Care:
More importantly, since such insurance is only designed for emergency treatment it will not cover routine medical care.
In its simplest sense, Visitor insurance policies will not offer any coverage for regular physical examinations or routine physician visits including continued treatment of an existing medical condition or a previously declared emergency that has already been treated.
Apart from the general limitations on routine care, each insurance provider has their own coverage restrictions that are available for review in the official documents called Policy Wordings.
Generally, in order to be eligible any applicant would need to meet a set of specific conditions that each insurance policy outlines pertaining to the state of one’s health and status in Canada.
While eligibility requirements may slightly vary from one provider to another, one thing is universal:
Types of Visitors insurance and who should buy it:
As a general rule, every person in Canada should have at least some level of insurance protection in place as a safeguard against the costs of medical treatment.
While medical insurance is not mandatory for many temporary and permanent residents, the Government of Canada strongly encourages people to have it at all times, and rightly so.
For anyone who does not qualify for a province-run health plan at their place of residence, Visitors to Canada insurance is the next best thing in order to avoid often substantial financial losses from medical bills that could potentially lead to a large debt.
For that reason, we’ve made a list of categories for people who should purchase private medical insurance for Visitors to Canada:
Tourists and Temporary Residents:
Many of you already know this, but people staying in Canada with a visitor status are NOT eligible for any government insurance plan.
Given the situation, it is paramount to buy a private insurance policy with a sufficient amount of coverage.
So, as an international traveler visiting Canada you have a couple of insurance options.
First, you can opt for a Visitors to Canada insurance policy offered directly by insurance vendors in Canada. Second, you can purchase travel insurance from the country of your own residence that includes medical coverage at your destination.
To understand your choice, it’s worth noting that buying travel insurance outside Canada may lead to insufficient coverage, longer claim processing with having you main-in all of your medical bills and doctor’s reports back home or even inadequate payouts for the medical services performed in Canada.
On the other hand, going with a comprehensive plan from a Canadian insurance vendor alleviates these issues since local insurers tailor their policies specifically for the Canadian healthcare system. Moreover, all communication and claim services are also provided in Canada leading to faster processing times based on your case.
Lastly, the price difference between the two is often negligible for the majority of travelers, thus, making it easier for you to pick a suitable policy.
Click to learn more and calculate a personal quote – Visitors to Canada Insurance
Super Visa Holders:
Another category of people who are not eligible for provincial insurance in Canada is Super Visa applicants and holders.
Super Visa was first introduced in 2011 as an alternative to a regular TRV (temporary resident visa). It was specifically designed for parents and grandparents of Canadian citizens and Permanent Residents of Canada.
The main difference between Super Visa and TRV or a visitor visa is that Super Visa holders can stay in Canada for up to 2 years in a row without having to renew their status as opposed to only 6 months per visit allowed by a TRV. Both visas are generally issued for 10 years, although case-by-case exceptions may apply.
There is another important distinction – all Super Visa program applicants are required to have proof of insurance from a Canadian provider.
Not only this insurance must be from a Canadian vendor, it must also meet the following policy requirements:
– Each person must be insured for at least $100,000 CAD or more.
– Duration of each insurance policy must be 1 year.
– Each policy must cover the costs of hospitalization, repatriation and emergency medical care.
Fortunately, all of the Canadian insurers that offer Super Visa policies satisfy coverage requirements. You should also have proof of coverage with you when you arrive in Canada, because a POE (Point of Entry) officer may request that you show it.
In order to view your options, calculate a personal quote or speak with an Insurance Advisor you can use the link below.
Click to learn more – Super Visa Insurance
The third group of people that is encouraged to obtain private insurance when arriving in Canada are the New Immigrants, which is just another term for Permanent Resident status holders coming into the country for the first time.
While it is clear that visitors and tourists are not eligible for any province-funded insurance coverage, the situation with new immigrants is a bit more complex.
Depending on the province of residence, you may receive your provincial insurance from day 1 (the date of arrival). Examples include Ontario, Alberta, Manitoba, Northwest Territories, Nunavut as well as Atlantic provinces of Canada.
On the other hand, if you settle in a different province you may be required to wait up to 3 months before you qualify for the government insurance plan.
Specifically, provinces that have waiting periods before you can start using your government health insurance include:
British Columbia: 2 full months + the remainder of the month when you’ve begun your residency in the province i.e. the date of arrival as a Permanent Resident of Canada.
Example: If you have arrived in Canada in the middle of the month, say March 15, then your provincial insurance in BC will begin on June 1, which makes it 2 full months (April and May) plus the last 2 weeks of March (the month when you arrived).
Saskatchewan: You will receive your provincial health insurance on the 1st day of the 3rd month following the date you establish your residence in the province. For Permanent Residents it is usually the date of arrival plus 2 full months before you are eligible for Saskatchewan’s health plan.
Quebec: 3 months waiting period following the date of your arrival before you can use Quebec’s RAMQ.
Yukon: 3-month waiting period applies following the date you establish your residency.
If you are moving into a province from the list above, it is highly recommended that you purchase a private insurance policy for the duration of the waiting period.
Even though you will be eligible for provincial health coverage once the waiting period is over, you are financially responsible for any medical treatment you may require during that time.
Click to calculate a personal quote and learn more – New Immigrants Insurance
Much like New Immigrants, Citizens and Permanent Residents of Canada who have previously been living abroad and wish to return to Canada should buy a Visitors to Canada insurance policy.
The need to get private medical coverage stems from the same waiting periods that new immigrants face when settling in a certain province.
The list of applicable waiting periods remains unchanged for the citizens of Canada and immigrants who have already established their residences.
Yukon: 3 full months after the date of arrival.
Quebec: 3 full months immediately following your return to the province.
Saskatchewan: 2 full month waiting period following the date of arrival.
British Columbia: 2 full months + the remaining balance of the month immediately following the date of arrival.
Feel free to review available insurance options and calculate instant personal quotes by using the following link.
Click to view – Insurance for Returning Canadians
Temporary Foreign Workers:
Despite the fact that Work Permit holders are essentially temporary residents, they are still eligible for provincial insurance coverage just like returning Canadian nationals and new immigrants.
However, there are additional requirements for temporary foreign workers that apply in some cases.
Ontario: No waiting period. Each work permit holder must have an employment of at least 6 months in duration with an Ontario employer.
The 6-month requirement in Ontario means that your duration of employment is no less than 6 months into the future (when you start), not your actual time having already worked there.
BC: 2 full months + the remainder of the month when you arrive is the standard waiting period. You must also have a Work Permit with a duration of 6 months or more.
Yukon: 3-month waiting period applies. You must also have a Work Permit for a period of 1 year or more.
Quebec: Standard 3-month waiting period. Another requirement is to have an employer-specific work permit with a duration of at least 6 months.
View your options – Insurance for Foreign Workers in Canada
IEC/Working Holiday Program:
Yet another distinct group of people who need medical insurance coverage as a part of visa requirements are the International Experience Canada (IEC) participants.
The program itself offers 3 main streams: Young Professionals, International Co-op Internship and, being the most popular, Working Holiday.
Although these streams differ from each other in terms of program regulations, country availability, etc. all of them require that each applicant must be properly insured for the entire duration of their stay in Canada – for up to 2 years.
Full insurance requirements include:
– Mandatory coverage for hospitalization, emergency return home (repatriation) and emergency health care.
– Coverage must be continuous throughout the whole duration of stay in Canada.
– Proof of coverage must be available for a POE officer review upon arrival.
– Insurance must be valid for each entry to Canada.
It is worth noting that even though medical insurance for IEC does not necessarily have to be issued by a Canadian insurer, the same principle as with travel insurance would apply.
If you are looking for peace of mind knowing that you can easily communicate with your insurer in case you ever need to use the policy or that you won’t have to mail all of your medical receipts and reports back home, then you will be better off going with a policy from a Canadian insurance provider.
In order to learn more about available options, use the link below.
Click to learn more – IEC/Working Holiday Insurance
International Students in Canada:
If you are coming to Canada to study as an International Student, you would also need to purchase medical insurance to cover any possible health emergencies during your stay.
However, unlike the rest of the people that would need Visitors to Canada insurance, International Students can opt for a dedicated insurance plan specifically designed for them.
There are certain situations when International Students in Canada can purchase Visitors Insurance, however, these types of cases are rare and far between.
If you are not sure that you qualify for a specific insurance plan, it is best to contact our Insurance Advisors to find a suitable option based on your needs.
Click to learn more – International Students in Canada Insurance
When should you buy Visitors to Canada Insurance?
Having determined whether you need Visitors Insurance coverage, it is important to ask what would be the best time to buy it.
Commonly, all of the Canadian insurance providers that offer insurance for tourists and temporary residents have a very specific condition concerning when your insurance begins.
More specifically, Waiting Period refers to the amount of time immediately following the start date of your insurance policy (indicated on the confirmation of coverage document), during which you are unable to use your insurance policy and claim any expenses.
If you suffer an injury or fall sick during the waiting period, your treatment will not be covered.
Important: Note that the Waiting Period would only apply under very specific circumstances – only when your insurance policy starts after the date of your arrival in Canada.
Each insurance policy has their own waiting period that usually ranges from 48-hours to 7 or even 15 days in some cases.
The best way to determine what is the duration of the waiting period for a plan you’re interested in is to read its Policy Wording or get in touch with an experienced Insurance Advisor.
Visitors to Canada Insurance: Main Benefits
We’ve briefly touched upon the fact that each Canadian insurer would offer their own set of insured services and benefit limits related to emergency treatment.
However, these differences are largely niche benefits with a relatively small variation of payable insurance limits.
That’s why we would like to make a list of the main benefits that are included in Visitors Insurance plans across the board.
– Hospital Admission and Accommodation
– Emergency medical treatment
– Services of a physician
– Necessary surgical treatment
– Prescription medications (in-patient & out-patient)
– Accidental dental damage repair
– Dental pain relief
– Laboratory services and diagnostics (X-rays, ultrasound, bloodwork, etc.)
– Ambulance transportation (including air ambulance with pre-approval)
– Repatriation / Emergency return to the country of residence
– Services of medical professionals (osteopath, chiropractor, etc.)
– Rental or purchase of medical appliances (crutches, wheelchairs, etc.)
– Cremation, burial and repatriation of remains
There are, of course, more benefits included in each policy such as Side-Trips coverage for short trips outside of Canada that work the same way as travel insurance. Additionally, many insurers in Canada offer benefits for bedside companion, follow up treatment, hospital allowance and much more.
In order to learn more and see what benefits are included in the policy you are interested in, please refer to the official Policy Wording for the corresponding insurance plan or speak with our Insurance Advisors.
Features that affect the price of Visitors insurance:
If you are someone who has never needed to buy a Visitors insurance plan before, the question of how much an insurance plan should cost would be among the first ones to ask.
In order to give you a comprehensive and definitive answer, we would like to go over several factors that determine the price you would need to pay for this type of medical coverage.
– Applicant’s Age
– Number of Applicants
– Coverage Duration
– Amount of Coverage / Sum Insured
– Deductible Amount
– Pre-existing Medical Conditions
As a general rule, the older the person applying for the insurance is, the more expensive the policy will be due to the risk factor.
Same principles apply to the coverage duration and sum insured. The longer you need an insurance for and the higher the coverage you select, the costlier your policy will be.
Another factor that would influence the cost of a policy is the number of applicants. However, there are certain limitations that are applicable to this rule.
For example, if we have 2 people applying as a Couple, which implies a spouse or a common-law partner, then the cost of the policy for both applicants will be based on the sum of individually calculated quotes for each person given the same factors mentioned above.
Yet, some insurance companies offer discounts, usually about 5%, for double applicants that would lower the price of the policy as opposed to buying insurance separately.
Family plans are a bit more complex in that regard. Generally, a family is defined as either 1 or 2 adults with several dependent children. However, unlike Couples, family plan is calculated based on the rate for the oldest adult x 2, where dependents are covered free of charge.
To put it simply, deductible is an unchanging amount of money that the policyholder must pay out-of-pocket for any insured medical services before the insurance provider will pay the rest, up to the benefit limit.
The amount of deductible directly affects the price of the policy, where the less deductible you have (you can choose $0 deductible), the cheaper your insurance will be when you buy it.
While it may seem convoluted, deductible works the same way as any other co-pay arrangement does.
For instance, you have an insurance policy with a $250 deductible amount and you visit an Emergency Room in a local hospital for a sudden stomach ache. Once the attending physician did the required treatment and you are given the bill for $600, you will need to pay that $250 deductible amount directly and the rest $350 is paid out by the insurer.
It is also worth mentioning that while most companies have Per Claim deductible policy, there are a couple of insurers that practice Per Policy deductible payment.
The difference between the 2 is that Per Claim obligates policyholders to pay the deductible amount for each separate claim they may have, while Per Policy deductible means paying deductible in full only once over the entire coverage period.
The type of deductible you select, whether it is Per Claim or Per Policy, will not directly affect the price of your policy, however.
The general advice is to go for the lowest deductible possible in order to save money in the long term in case you would need to use your insurance.
Pre-existing Medical Conditions:
Coverage for pre-existing medical conditions is provided for past medical conditions including surgeries, injuries, illnesses, etc. that have been stable for a certain period of time immediately before the start date of your insurance policy.
Stability periods vary from one insurer to another and would range from under 90 to over 365 days. So, if you have any existing medical issues that have been stable for a specific period of time, you can include additional coverage.
Stable, in this context, refers to a collection of conditions such as no new treatment, changes in test results or changes in prescribed medications. For a more thorough review of the stability period, it’s best to read the appropriate section of the Policy Wording for each plan you are interested in or contact our Insurance Advisors.
While often an optional coverage that you can add to the base policy for an additional premium, some insurers automatically include it in their standard policies as a default benefit.
To conclude the review, while it may seem overwhelming at first, choosing an insurance is not very complicated.
The best way to get started would be to use our online insurance quotes calculators using the links we’ve given earlier to narrow down the list of relevant options and speak to an Insurance Advisor if you have any additional questions regarding the subject.
Finding a suitable insurance plan at an affordable price
Having reviewed this guide you should have a pretty solid understanding of what to expect when shopping for a Visitors insurance coverage.
With that said, we would suggest evaluating your personal needs and habits first in order to see a bigger picture of what insurance policy would be best for you.
If you are young and healthy and generally don’t engage in risky sport activities, then a middle-of-the-pack coverage amount like $50,000 or $100,000 can be a good fit. You can also increase the deductible a bit and pay even less when you purchase your insurance.
However, we would like to say that it is not recommended to go over a $1,000 deductible since if you ever have an emergency and need treatment, the difference you may end up out-of-pocket may be greater than what you would’ve paid for the insurance with less deductible.
In either case, knowing what your needs are is an essential part of insurance shopping. You are also welcome to speak with our Insurance Advisors and get a break-down of suitable options with a detailed overview of pros and cons based on your personal situation.