Various private and public companies provide insurance for immigrants in Canada. There are also some range of insurance providers to temporary visitors, students and business persons in Canada. If you are immigrating to Canada, you will need to understand the principles that guide insurance in the country. Canada as most other western economies is a bit strict on insurance compared to many other countries. For example, if you own a car in Canada, it is expected that you have vehicle insurance to cover or it or you may be fined.
Asides from some of the mandatory insurance types, for your ease of living, it is advised that you subscribe to the basic insurance plans. Most of these insurances are already provided by the government and are sponsored by the tax you and other residents of Canada pay. You may need to also subscribe to some private insurances to cater for certain needs. To that effect, there are many insurance companies in Canada willing to have immigrants (including students) and their property insured with them.
This content will help you understand the different types of insurance in Canada, what they cover, and the criteria that make you eligible for any of them.
Types of Insurance for Immigrants in Canada
1. Personal Insurance
Personal insurance in Canada falls under 6 different categories and immigrants or temporary residents (visitors, students and workers) may decide to insure themselves for any or all of them.
Life Insurance: Life insurance will definitely not bring the dead back but will make the person you have indicated as your beneficiary receive a determined insurance payment after your demise. Such payment is tax-free and is paid at once as a chunk amount.
Disability Insurance: With Canadian disability insurance, you will receive a payment if due to an illness or injury, you are unable to work either temporarily or permanently. The payment seeks to cover the income lost in those periods when you are not able to work. Disability insurance is usually paid monthly and will cover for situations like gross injuries, loss of a part of the body, and heart attack.
Critical Illness Insurance: If you become diagnosed with a serious medical condition such as cancer or any other severe illness, critical illness insurance will make you a beneficiary of a certain sum of money to be paid out at once. For this insurance to apply, you must be diagnosed only after you’ve applied for the policy; i.e., it does not work for pre-existing medical conditions except for rare cases. You will also receive payment only after you have survived the medical condition 15 to 30 days from the period of diagnosis.
Long Term Care Insurance: This type of insurance will provide you with funds to be able to pay for public or private long-term care that you will be requiring probably due to an illness or becoming of age. An example of long-term care this insurance covers is enrolling in a nursing home for mentally challenged individuals on registering in an old people’s home.
Health Insurance: Once you become a permanent resident, you will be eligible for public health insurance in Canada. The public health insurance in Canada is not unified and what it covers varies from province to province. However, you should expect to be able to get medical consultation, diagnostic tests, and hospitalization at no cost once you apply for the insurance.
These services are not covered by Canada’s Public Health Insurance scheme:
- Prescription drugs
- Dental and eye examinations
- Ambulance services
- Visits to counselors, psychologists, or physiotherapists
- Cosmetic surgeries
After applying for health insurance, you will need to wait for up to 3 months before getting your health insurance card and then start enjoying full benefits. While in the waiting period, it is advisable to get private health insurance to cater for yourself and your family members (this is especially important for newcomers and super visa holders). Interim private health insurance is even more important if you have young children or elderly people under your care as they are easily prone to health complications. Should there be an emergency during your waiting period, your province or territory will be able to cater for that through their emergency medical services, even if you don’t have private health insurance.
Sometimes, your place of work may provide you with some form of health coverage. Read carefully through their plan to know how much you can benefit from such a provision and check if your family members will also be beneficiaries.
2. Private Health Insurance
This is also referred to as extended or supplementary insurance. By subscribing to private health insurance, you will be able to have all the services that are not covered by the public insurance in your province or territory. If you will be needing medical attention while you are away from your province, private health insurance will also have you covered for all the care you will receive in that other province.
Since you will not have access to public health insurance immediately you arrive in Canada, it will be best that you subscribe to private health insurance that is tailored for newcomers and visitors to Canada. You can go ahead to explain to your chosen insurance company that you desire an insurance plan for people who do not have OHIP or an insurance health card yet.
Most private health insurance plans don’t cover all the likely medical services you’ll be needing. However, you can go through each plan and pick one that will suit your potential needs best.
3. Car Insurance for immigrants in Canada
Whether a Canadian or an immigrant, not having car insurance when you own a car is considered an offense in Canada and you may be fined if you are discovered. All provinces and territories offer car insurance that covers liabilities and bodily injuries. Depending on how encompassing the insurance in your province or territory is, you may need to get additional private car insurance.
- Public Car Insurance: The car insurance provided by your province will cover liabilities such as:
- Health expenses of people who may be affected by an accident from your car.
- Property damage
The insurance also caters for medical expenses needed to cater for yourself in case of an injury and provides some compensation for your temporary or permanent loss of income while you were being treated.
Canada’s public car insurance does not cover damages to your car during an accident.
- Private or Supplementary Car Insurance: You can subscribe to other insurance plans like Comprehensive insurance or Collision Insurance. Collision insurance provides for the repair or replacement of your vehicle if you hit an object, another vehicle inclusive while driving. Comprehensive insurance covers you in case of car theft, vandalism, and fire accident that affects your car. The comprehensive insurance does not cover for theft of properties you have in your vehicle or the damages done to those properties during an accident.
Factors that can Increase your Car Insurance Premium
There is no fixed premium for car insurance in Canada, there are different factors that insurance companies look into to determine how much your premium will be. They include:
- Driving Record: If you’ve been convicted or have been involved in an accident before. Your premium may be higher.
- Vehicle Type: Since the cost of maintenance and repair of different vehicles vary, you will be charged based on the type of your vehicle.
- Driving Frequency: If your place of work is closer to your residence, you may be charged less than when you have miles to drive to get to work. Your premium will also be determined by how much you have reasons to use your vehicle in a week. This is because the longer time you spend driving, the more susceptible you are to accidents and the more maintenance your vehicle requires.
4. Employment Insurance (EI)
The Canadian Employment Insurance offers a covering of financial assistance to Canadian residents and citizens who have lost their jobs because of any of the following:
- Layoffs and retrenchments
- Labor shortage
- Seasonal employment
You can apply for EI immediately after you gain employment in Canada. This can be done online or by visiting the closest Service Canada Center to you. If you don’t have an EI before you lose your job, you may still apply within 4 weeks of unemployment or you lose all the benefits of the insurance. To be a beneficiary of any compensation from the Employment Insurance, you must have:
- Held a position is a valid Canadian job
- Lost your job and be without pay for a 7-day stretch
- Lost your job with no fault on your part
- Been looking out for a new job while you applied for the EI claim
- Prepared to resume work as soon as you get a new employment
You do not qualify for EI if you:
- Were fired from your former job
- Left of your own will
- Partook in labor disputes such as strikes
- Are in jail
If you qualify for Canadian Employment Insurance, you will be paid 55% of your weekly earnings (before you lost your job) per week. You can receive up to a maximum of C$543 per week and a maximum total of C$51,300 per year. You may continue to receive Employment Insurance payments for up to 45 weeks depending on the rate of unemployment in your locality which will determine how long you’ll wait before getting another job. All amounts you receive from the EI are taxable and this will automatically be deducted from what you are paid weekly.
5. Travel Insurance
When you get travel insurance, it will be able to cover any emergency that occurs while you are traveling (especially out of Canada). Such emergency includes:
- Medical emergencies during your journey or while you are at your travel destination. Your travel insurance can cover expenses involved for up to $10,000,000.
- Flight accidents. This can be covered for up to $25,000
- Canceled or interrupted trips. For every trip insured, you get a covering of up to $6,000
- Baggage loss or damage. This can be covered for up to $3,000
- Baggage delays. This can be covered for up to $1,500
- Inconveniences caused by terrorism in your travel destination can be covered for up to $35,000,000
You can apply for Canadian travel insurance through your province or territory. You will become eligible for application once you receive your government health insurance card. If you are only a visitor to Canada or a student, your travel or work and study visa will make you eligible for a range of affordable travel insurances. Such travel insurances are flexible and allow you to choose from a range of travel emergencies you want to be covered for while you are still in the country.
Social Insurance Number for Immigrants
The Social Insurance Number (SIN) is a unique 9-digit number that everyone who has been acknowledged as a resident or a citizen of Canada must have. You will require the SIN to be able to get employment, pay taxes, use government facilities, and get insurance. It is absolutely free to apply for the Social Insurance Number. You can do this online or by sending a mail to Service Canada after which you will get a reply mail within 20 days of applying.
Should you forget your unique SIN, you will find it easily on any of these documents:
- Any of your tax slips (T4s)
- Your income tax return
- Your record of employment
Your employer also has handy access to your SIN so you can request it from him/her. With your SIN, you will be able to apply for any kind of insurance, whether public or private.
Finding an insurance company in Canada is as easy as typing a few relevant words into your search engine. You may want to employ the services of an insurance company directly or make use of insurance brokers. Whichever option you go for, ensure you check through the terms and conditions that apply to the insurance plan you are opting for. If you have any questions about any of the conditions, make sure you get enough clarification from the company before you sign up for their insurance package.