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How does life insurance work for newcomers to Canada?

SUMMARY

You can apply for life insurance depending on your visitation, residency, and citizenship status. Non-residents of Canada must have work or student permits in order to apply for life insurance. Temporary visitors to Canada can apply for travel insurance, but may not be eligible for life insurance.

By Mark Cluett
Director of Content
15 min read
IN THIS ARTICLE

If you are new to Canada, you might have a lot of questions about getting settled in your new home. No matter how long you’ll be in Canada, moving to a different country can be an overwhelming and complicated process. You might be wondering how to open a bank account, find a place to live, or how to get a driver’s license. You might also be wondering about your life insurance options or even what is life insurance? 

The good news? You do not need to be a Canadian citizen or even a permanent resident to get a Canadian life insurance policy.

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What kind of life insurance is available in Canada?

Canada has two main types of life insurance: term insurance and permanent insurance. The type of policy that is best for you will depend on your coverage needs, your monthly budget, and your financial goals. 

Term life insurance provides coverage for a set period of time (called a term). This period of time can span from 1, 5, 10, 20, 30, years, or other customized terms. If you die within the term of your policy, a person of your choice (known as a beneficiary) receives a tax-free death benefit (the life insurance payout).

Term life insurance does not have a guaranteed death benefit. This is because there is no guarantee you will die within your policy term, term insurance is more affordable than a permanent policy. Term insurance is a great option for those working within a limited budget.  

Permanent life insurance lasts your entire life and the death benefit is guaranteed. As long as you pay your premiums, your beneficiaries receive the tax-free payout upon your passing. 

Some permanent life insurance provides additional investment opportunities. Permanent life insurance policies include:

These policies are more expensive than term policies. This is because the death benefit is guaranteed and the added opportunity to make money off of your premium payments. 

As a non-permanent resident, it is likely that a term policy that covers the duration of your stay in Canada would be most suitable for your life insurance needs. We work with many insurance companies that approve newcomers to Canada including IA Financial, Desjardin Insurance, SSQ Insurance, and more.

Life insurance for residents of Canada

On your life insurance application, you will be asked if you are a permanent resident or citizen of Canada. You may also be asked to provide proof of your residency using one of the following forms of ID: 

  • Canadian Driver’s License 
  • Permanent Residence Card 
  • Canadian Citizenship Card 

The main difference between life insurance for permanent residents and non-permanent residents is that permanent residents can qualify for higher amounts of insurance coverage. 

You can still apply for life insurance if you are not a permanent resident of Canada or are waiting for your citizenship, but you may have to provide additional support documentation with your application.

Can non-residents get life insurance in Canada?

As a non-resident of Canada, you are eligible for a Canadian life insurance policy. If you hold a valid student visa, a valid work permit, or have convention refugee status, you may be eligible to apply for a Canadian life insurance policy. 

If you are in Canada but don’t hold a work, refugee, or student visa or you may still be able to apply for travel insurance or other types of insurance.

Life insurance for refugees

When first arriving in Canada as a refugee, you cannot immediately apply for life insurance. In order to apply for life insurance, you must have convention refugee status. 

Convention refugee status is given to those who meet the definition of refugee as defined during the 1951 Geneva Convention. You will need to wait at least six months to obtain convention refugee status. 

In order to apply for life insurance as a refugee, you must provide the following:

  • Proof of a stable living environment 
  • Proof of employment
  • A copy of a letter verifying your convention refugee status from the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada and from Citizenship and Immigration Canada

A life insurance policy for someone with convention refugee status will usually provide a death benefit of around $250,000.


The type of life insurance policy and optional life insurance riders available to you varies depending on several factors. Your insurance provider may have additional conditions you must meet to qualify for coverage.Some life insurance companies let you apply for coverage as soon as you receive your convention status. Others require that you reside in Canada for at least two years.

If you are a convention refugee looking for life insurance, reach out to one of our advisors to find a policy that will work for you.

Life insurance for international students

As an international student studying in Canada, you are able to apply for life insurance to cover you during your stay in the country.


A life insurance policy for an international student with a study permit will usually provide a death benefit of $250,000. 


In order to apply for life insurance as an international student, you must provide the following:

  • Proof of enrollment in a full-time study program
    Full-time study is generally considered 3-5 courses per semester. Be sure to clarify this with the insurance company, as each provider has its own rules. 
  • Proof of your duration of stay
    Some companies allow you to apply immediately upon arrival. Others require you to have been in Canada for a year. It’s best to check the specifics with your potential provider to ensure you qualify.
  • Confirmation that you have not and do not plan to live in any ineligible country in the last or next 12 months
    Some countries are considered high-risk to insurance companies. They will want to know your most recent travel and living plans.

Life insurance for foreign workers and work permit holders

If you are a non-permanent resident and have a work permit or visa, you may be able to apply for a Canadian life insurance policy.

Your eligibility for life insurance depends on the insurance company’s rules and the type of work permit you have. Some permits and providers let you apply as soon as you arrive in Canada while others have a waiting period of 3-6 months. 

In order to apply for coverage, you likely need to:

  • Provide a copy of the work permit 
  • Provide a copy of your employment contract
  • Provide a copy of your immigration documents
  • Go through a paramedical test

Foreign workers living in Canada on a work visa are most often eligible for life insurance coverage up to $250,000. However, coverage amounts can vary depending on permit type.


Work Permit Type Usual Max Coverage Amounts
Caregiver or Nanny  $250,000 
Foreign-Trained Physicians $250,000
Employer-Specific  $500,000 
Open Work  $250,000 (higher amounts available)
Temporary Work $250,000
Post-Graduate $500,000

 

Please note: different insurance companies have different titles or classifications for types of work permits and coverage amounts may vary. If you are uncertain whether your work permit will allow you to qualify for life insurance in Canada, get in touch with one of our advisors.

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How do I apply for life insurance as a newcomer to Canada?

When applying for life insurance, you must know how much coverage you’re looking for and how much you can afford to pay each month for your insurance. If you’re not sure where to start, reach out to one of our advisors.  

To apply for life insurance as a non-resident of Canada, you will go through the same steps as a permanent resident. 

Step One: Get a quote
This will give you an idea of how much your monthly insurance payments (called premiums) will cost.  

Step Two: Discuss with an advisor
They’ll go over the premiums and policies with you to find one that fits your budget, needs, and expectations.

Step Three: Schedule an application call
Prior to your application call, your advisor will help you determine what documents you’ll need and will prep you for any questions you might be asked

For your application call, be prepared to provide any or all of the following information:

  • Immigration documents 
  • Photo ID
  • Proof of any other insurance you may have 
  • Income information and employment history
  • Social insurance number
  • Personal health records 
  • Family medical history
  • Lifestyle habits

All of these things help insurance company underwriters determine your premiums and coverage. 

Step 4: Schedule a medical exam 

A medical exam is part of the underwriting process. It is used to verify everything you told the insurance company during your application call. 

If you have been in Canada for less than a year, your underwriting process will include a comprehensive medical screening which would include testing for conditions such as HIV and Hepatitis. After residing in Canada for a year, your underwriting process will be similar to that of a permanent resident. 

To begin the application process, get a free quote or schedule a call with one of our expert advisors. They can help you through the entire process.

the cost of life insurance at different ages

How much does life insurance cost as a non-resident in Canada?

Life insurance for non-residents of  Canada costs the same as it would for those with citizenship or permanent resident status. The only difference is that coverage amounts are restricted. For non-permanent residents, the maximum coverage is around $500,000, whereas citizens and permanent residents can receive coverage up to $5,000,000 or more.

There are many personal factors that determine the cost of life insurance. These factors include:  

  • Age
  • Smoking status
  • Gender
  • Health
  • Family history
  • Occupation
  • Lifestyle  

There are also policy details that will determine the cost of life insurance such as:  

  • Term length
  • Coverage amount
  • Type of insurance

For example, a 30-year-old non-smoking male looking for $500,000 in 20-year term life insurance coverage can expect to spend around $28 a month. A 60-year-old looking for the same coverage can expect their premiums to be around $379. This price would be the same for a non-permanent resident as it would be for a permanent resident.

Life insurance riders

Can I get a rider on my life insurance policy?

A life insurance rider is an optional add-on to your life insurance policy that provides extra coverage. Riders allow you to create a customized life insurance policy that ensures an even better fit for your needs. 

Some popular riders include:

As a temporary resident, your qualification for riders depends on the type of visa you have, as well as the insurance company you work with. 

For example, many visas (such as a refugee visa or a caregiver visa) allow for critical illness insurance riders. This means that if you end up being diagnosed with a life-threatening disease while you have coverage, you will receive a lump-sum payment. 

If you’re interested in adding a rider to your life insurance policy, speak with one of our advisors. We can provide professional advice about which riders you qualify for and would benefit from.

What other types of insurance should I get when visiting Canada?

Some visas require you to obtain certain types of insurance during your stay in Canada. For example, some visas require emergency medical insurance for the duration of your trip.

Travel medical insurance

Some visas require you to obtain certain types of insurance during your stay in Canada. For example, some visas require emergency medical insurance for the duration of your trip. 

Emergency travel medical insurance

While Canada is known for having “free healthcare,” you can only get it if you are a tax-paying Canadian resident. If are only visiting, you cannot benefit from public health insurance. 

In order to get free healthcare in Canada, most provinces require you live in the country for at least three months. Some provinces require an even longer stay, and even then you may have to pay for additional medical treatment. 

When a medical emergency happens, it can be costly. Even ambulance services just to get to the hospital for medical assistance can cost hundreds of dollars, depending on which province you are in. 

To avoid substantial hospital bills after a medical emergency, it’s a good idea to purchase travel medical insurance. Some visas even require that you purchase emergency medical coverage as a condition of the visa. Purchasing a travel health insurance policy sure you’re covered in Canada in case you end up needing medical care. Some policies even include emergency dental care.

In addition to medical and dental coverage, some travel medical insurance policies also come with additional trip interruption insurance. This insurance policy covers any unexpected costs that may come up if you have to extend your stay due to a medical emergency or other unforeseen circumstances.  

Once you obtain permanent residency in Canada, you can also purchase additional health insurance from a private company that supplements the coverage provided by the universal health care plan. Government health insurance covers emergency medical procedures and medical assistance, but may not cover additional medication needed for treatment. Private health insurance coverage can pay for those treatments, so you can focus on getting healthy.

Insurance for a Super Visa

A super visa is a special visa offered by the Canadian government. This type of visa allows family members of permanent residents to come to Canada for up to five consecutive years (as of July 4, 2022), with the ability to apply for a two-year extension. The permanent resident must have the means to financially support these family members during their stay. 

In order to apply for a super visa, one must prove that they have a minimum of $100,000 of coverage in emergency medical travel insurance. This coverage must be from a Canadian insurance company and it must last for a minimum of 365 days.

Learn more about super visa insurance and super visa insurance payments

Visitor visa insurance

To obtain a visitor visa to Canada you do not need emergency medical coverage. However, it is a good idea to get it, just in case. Many Canadian insurance providers offer emergency medical coverage to those in the country on a visitor visa. Policy coverage can range anywhere from $25,000 to $150,000.

To obtain a visitor visa to Canada you do not need emergency medical coverage. However, it is a good idea to get it, just in case. Many Canadian insurance providers offer emergency medical coverage to those in the country on a visitor visa. Policy coverage can range anywhere from $25,000 to $150,000.

Learn more about insurance for visitors to Canada.

Tenant and property insurance

If you are going to rent an apartment, house, or suite, tenant insurance is something to consider purchasing. Some landlords even require it as a condition of your rental agreement. Tenant’s insurance protects you and the belongings in your home. The building itself is covered by your landlord’s insurance but your personal items are not. In case of fire, flood, theft, or other loss, your tenant’s insurance will provide you with the money to replace or repair items. 

If you are buying a property such as a home or a building and will have a mortgage, you are required to buy insurance for the property. If you are fully paying for the property (without a mortgage) home insurance is optional, but recommended. Property insurance covers the cost to repair or replace your home in the event of a fire, flood, or other damage.

Vehicle insurance

In Canada, third-party liability insurance is legally required to drive your car on public roads. Vehicle insurance protects you if you are responsible for an accident causing injury or damage. Car insurance also protects you from paying the full cost of repairs to your or someone else’s car if it is damaged in an accident where you are found at fault. The level of coverage required varies by province. It’s important to look into the specific regulations where you live.

Ready to get started?

Are you ready to begin the process of getting a Canadian life insurance policy? We can help! Get an instant quote for free or start by scheduling a call with one of our expert advisors to learn more about the policies available to you.

Interested in another type of insurance mentioned in this post? Reach out to an advisor, and they can steer you in the right direction to get you the coverage you need.

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Call us at 1-888-601-9980 or book time with our licensed experts.
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The information above is intended for informational purposes only and is based on PolicyAdvisor’s own views, which are subject to change without notice. This content is not intended and should not be construed to constitute financial or legal advice. PolicyAdvisor accepts no responsibility for the outcome of people choosing to act on the information contained on this website. PolicyAdvisor makes every effort to include updated, accurate information. The above content may not include all terms, conditions, limitations, exclusions, termination, and other provisions of the policies described, some of which may be material to the policy selection. Please refer to the actual policy documents for complete details. In case of any discrepancy, the language in the actual policy documents will prevail.  All rights reserved.

If something in this article needs to be corrected, updated, or removed, let us know. Email editorial@policyadvisor.com.

KEY TAKEAWAYS

  • Non-residents of Canada can apply for life insurance if they have convention refugee status or have eligible work/ student permits
  • Visitors to Canada may be eligible for emergency travel medical, but not for life insurance product
  • To apply for life insurance as a non-resident of Canada, contact a PolicyAdvisor expert to see what each company requires for documentation

By Mark Cluett
Director of Content
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