So you have been approved for your Canadian working holiday visa. Yay! Congratulations! Not only did you make the first step into undertaking a new adventure…now you have to make sure everything else is covered before you leave, which can be majorly overwhelming!
You book your flights, maybe search on Craigslist for jobs or hit up some room rental Facebook groups, and get all your documents together just so you have everything you may need when you get over there. Then, if you haven’t already, you join the expat groups that exist on Facebook and bombard them with the same questions everyone else who came before you has asked!
It’s ok though. It gave me the idea for this article.
The proverbial question that is asked most: How do I get my 2 year visa, when I can only buy a 1 year travel insurance policy?
Yes, you can only buy 1 year policies. But the answer to solving this is not only a money saver…it is also just common sense.
In order to hopefully receive the full 2 years of the visa (it is after all, up to the immigration officer’s discretion no matter what you do), you have a few options on getting full insurance coverage for your stay.
The choice is completely up to you though…but I would never recommend arriving at Canadian Border Control without proof of 2 years insurance – printed out. If you don’t, this will pretty often ensure you only get a work permit for the dates listed on your insurance, if at all. And since you currently only get one shot at this visa, why would you waste it because you didn’t buy enough?
So what options do you have?
INSURANCE OPTION 1
BUY TWO 1 YEAR INSURANCE POLICIES
Whichever travel insurance company you book with is irrelevant. Pick the company you wish to book with and buy two 1 year policies.
The only way you can purchase two policies is by selecting your activation date so let’s say Jan 1st, 2017 and purchasing through to December 31st, 2017 for your first year. Then, you buy the second year starting Jan 1st 2018 through to December 31st 2018.
Simple! You’re covered for 2 years and you can go on your merry way enjoying life in Canada.
Do note: you need to ensure you list the start date of your insurance as the day you plan on activating the visa at the border to get your full two years. These policies MUST be printed out to ensure no issues are encountered with wifi connections etc. (Some airports and any land crossing do not seem to have free wifi) This will also mean that you may want to purchase an additional 2 day policy to tide you over during your flights from home to Canada.
Also, do not have a mini holiday on your insurance and then activate your visa as this will cut into your insurance length too. Or do what many do, and purchase separate insurance for the travel portion you do prior to arriving in Canada, and start your first annual policy on the date you expect to enter Canada.
BUT…what if you don’t have $2500 right now to pay for it? We have all been there.
Option 2 will also make it easy for you to get your 2 years, but save you some cash (for now).
INSURANCE OPTION 2
BUY TWO 1 YEAR INSURANCE POLICIES, BUT CANCEL THE SECOND POLICY
So, if you have followed the guidelines in Option 1, you would have purchased the two policies to ensure you’re covered for the visa.
However, to save yourself a minimum of $1200, after activating your visa, you can cancel the second policy as this policy would not have started yet. This will allow you to hold on to a little more money, especially if you’re not sure if you’ll be staying the entire 2 years; but you still want the option to buy the second year later on when you have more money to spare.
Do note: The only way you can cancel the second year and get your full refund is to purchase your second year policy no more than 7 days prior to entering Canada so you can actually refund it after activating the visa. There are cooling off periods for all insurance policies so be aware of what your company’s policy is. Most offer 14 days from the date of purchase. If you want to purchase the second year 12 months later, and are not in your home country to do it as some companies require, you can use World Nomads to do this. Many companies do not allow you to purchase insurance unless you are in your home country, but they do.
Some people however will need a third option. They can’t begin their adventure by the date their Letter of Acceptance expires. It happens. It happened to me last year: I needed to activate, but had to be in Australia for 3 extra months…how would I manage to get the 2 years visa and not be dealing with travel insurance I didn’t actually need until later that year?
This is what I did so I could activate it and return 3 months later with a new policy.
INSURANCE OPTION 3
BUY TWO 1 YEAR INSURANCE POLICIES & CANCEL THEM IMMEDIATELY, OR WITHIN THE COOLING OFF PERIOD
Option 3 involves buying the two policies and cancelling them for those who can’t begin their adventure immediately.
In the first instance, cancelling the policies 10 minutes after purchasing means you will not have your credit card charged at all. BUT, you will receive the email confirmations you need to provide to get your visa, before cancelling them; and the customs officer will not be able to tell whether your policies are active.
BUT, although some people have done this, I would recommend that you purchase the policies you need, and cancel them within the cooling off period just in case.
How I managed to activate and get refunded in full was by having 2 weeks insurance to cover my trip (which was the only policy that was active when I was activating the visa). I also had my recently purchased, two 1 year policies dated to start 1 week later than my activation date. This meant I could still cancel them both during the cooling off period as they hadn’t started – but I still had insurance in the eyes of the visa requirements. It does mean your card is charged and you will need to wait for the money to return back…so that is the only issue with not cancelling immediately; but it is a simple way to be fully covered and then reimbursed until you can actually start working in Canada.
Additionally to all of this, Option 4, is to take on Provincial Health Care depending on where you chose to reside. It will usually take 3 months to fully activate, but you can apply for it as soon as you arrive – just make sure you are covered by something until then. But if you do plan to travel outside of Canada, then you must have travel insurance just in case…I am so thankful I had insurance to cover a short trip to Germany when I lived in London, because I missed my flight due to a train delay…that was $500 that I had to shell out, but I got it all back.
WHAT INSURANCE COMPANY DO I ALWAYS USE?
For me, its always World Nomads. They are usually the cheapest – even their full coverage options. They sometimes have promo codes, especially for Australians and best of all; unlike other insurance companies, you don’t have to be home to purchase it.
If you’re interested in looking at World Nomads you can find them here at this link. Do note it is an affiliate link, so if you’re keen to help me build my travel fund – and you found all of this helpful, feel free to purchase your cover through that link.
Ultimately, all 3 options are worthwhile to consider. But either way, you NEED evidence of 2 years travel insurance in order to ensure you have the best chance for the full 2 years from the Canadian immigration officer. (And more than 2 years validity on your passport!)
Because why stress yourself over something you can actually control?