5 Best Health Insurance Plans for International Students in Canada

5 Best Health Insurance Plans for International Students in Canada

If you’re going to be an international student in Canada, did you know that most schools will require you to have health insurance to enroll? So, what are your best options if you’re just doing a short course? Or what if you need a policy that’s longer than a year? Take a look at the article below for all the answers! 

Health insurance is one detail that students often forget about if they’re going to be studying abroad in Canada. But it’s very important to guarantee your stay overseas is smooth and safe. Plus, you’ll likely need to show proof of medical coverage to enroll in your course!

With this in mind, I’ve separated out the best insurance options for students in Canada, alongside information about student visas, most common courses, and the Canadian health system. 

Let’s get started! 

Why do international students in Canada need health insurance? 

The biggest reason to get health insurance is to make sure that you’re covered in case you need any medical care in your new country of residence. 

But in the case of Canada specifically, not all students can use the public health system. And without insurance, even basic healthcare can be really expensive. 

Though that’s not news to anyone, is it? So beyond this reason, here are a few other reasons I’d recommend for students in Canada: 

Each province in Canada has its own health plan 

Canada’s health system is public. However, each province still has its own health plan…or the health system that they think is best. 

This means that the rules surrounding healthcare vary from place to place and it’s not always free. In British Columbia, for example, citizens have to pay a monthly fee of about $40. 

And, of course, there are also different rules for students. For example… 

Not all the provinces offer coverage for students in Canada 

As I mentioned above, each province has its own rules, and not all give students the right to the public health system. 

Beyond this, most provinces only cover students if they are staying at least 6 months in the country. But in some provinces, such as Alberta, coverage is only available to students staying at least 12 months. And in some cases, there may also be a grace period (as there is in British Columbia). 

And this brings us to our next point… 

Canadian schools might ask to see proof of medical coverage (AKA insurance) when you enroll

One of the biggest doubts international students have is whether or not health insurance is required to enter Canada. In this case, the answer is no. You do not have to present your policy at immigration. 

However, most (if not all) schools in Canada will require students to show proof of insurance before they begin their course.

In other words, in practice having insurance is a requirement. And the best-case scenario is that you have it all in order before leaving your home country. This will guarantee that you won’t have any issues if/when you arrive in a province where you’re unfamiliar with the health system. 

To know more about your options for courses and what the required visas are, keep reading after the list of the health insurance providers for international students in Canada. 

As always, I recommend you to get a quick online quote with all the companies I suggest here. It might take a bit of time, but you can ended up saving quite a bit of money at the end of the day!  

Table comparison of the 5 best health insurance plans for international/exchange students in Canada


Cigna Global Foyer Global Health  HCCMIS

Global Underwriters

Medical Maximum Unlimited (for the Platinum plan) $5,000,000 There are no limits independent of the plan  US$1,000,000 per year $1,000,000
Mental Health Benefit Unspecified Unlimited for up to 90 days  Included in all plans with a 10-month waiting period   Outpatient: $50 per day max up to $500 in total  Yes
Inpatient Prescription Drugs 80% coverage out-of-network, 100% in the USA and internationally Unspecified  Coverage available  Name-brand drugs: 50% coinsurance 

Generic drugs: 100% coinsurance

Special drugs: no coverage 

Outpatient Prescription Drugs  50% of actual costs, 90 days maximum per dispensation Unspecified Unspecified coinsurance 

Generic drugs: 100% coinsurance

Special drugs: no coverage 

Mental Health Benefit Inpatient and Outpatient: $5,000 lifetime maximum to paid in full depending on the plan Inpatient and Outpatient: $50,000 lifetime maximum None  Inpatient and Outpatient: limit not specified  Inpatient, outpatient, and therapy: limit not specific
Outpatient Prescription Drugs None, unless you buy the International Outpatient Option Up to $8,000,000 Full reimbursement Yes Yes
Repatriation of Remains $25,000 maximum or $5,000 for cremation  Optional Optional  $50,000 maximum or $5,000 for cremation  $13,500 maximum
Emergency Evacuation $50,000 Optional Optional $10,000 Yes
Hospital room coverage Offered up to the average semi-private room rate  Private room Private Room Usual Usual
Terrorism $50,000 Unspecified Unspecified $100,000 N/A
Accidental Death & Dismemberment (AD & D)  Principal sum of $25,000 that is not subject to deduction  $25,000 for main policy holder, $10,000 for spouse on the plan, $5,000 for child on the plan

Total limit of $250,000

Optional $25,000 for main policy holder, $10,000 for spouse on the plan, $5,000 for child on the plan

Total limit of $250,000

There is coverage
Emergency Dental  $500 per injury for the coverage period  Optional Optional $2,500 Yes
Maternity Care Only covered in Platinum plan  $14,000/€11,000/£9,000 in the Platinum plan  Only available in the Special and Exclusive plans Within the US: up to 80% coverage with a $25,000 limit within the PPO network/Outside PPO: up to 50% coverage with a $25,000 limit 

Outside the United States: 

Up to 80% coverage with a $25,000 limit. Benefits reduced by 25% if pregnancy is not reported within the first 90 days.  

Not specified
Pre-existing condition exclusion period Maximum limit of $1,500 with a 12-month waiting period  $14,000/€11,000/£9,000 in the Platinum plan  Coverage available Limited of $250,000 per plan  Unspecified 
Intensive Care Unit (ICU)  100% coverage after the deductible has been met Full coverage with the Platinum plan Coverage available  Up to $50,000 Not specified
Vaccines  Unspecified Optional Only in the Special and Exclusive plans $200 Yes, but must be paid as a separate plan
Routine care for newborns Unspecified Optional Only in the Special and Exclusive plans Up to $750 Yes, but must be paid as a separate plan
Pre-existing annual maximum once covered Unlimited depending on the plan Up to $8,000,000 Full reimbursement Unlimited depending on the plan Depends on the plan
Pre-existing lifetime maximum once covered Unlimited depending on the plan Up to $8,000,000 Full reimbursement Unlimited depending on the plan Depends on the plan

Worldwide Medical Insurance / Comparison Chart*

Part of the table courtesy of Tokio Marine HCC

*Note: this table is just for informational purposes and subject to change. It was accurate as of the time we wrote it here, but please check each company’s individual website for updated info.

The 5 Best and Cheapest Health Insurance for International Students in Canada

   1. International Student Health Insurance by IMG

IMGlobal offers a variety of insurance plans for students (as well as insurance plans for expats more generally).

They offer three different insurance plans specifically made for students. But since one of them is just for students studying abroad in the United States (The Patriot Exchange Program), we’ll just talk about two of them here.

Plan #1: Student Health Advantage

This program should be enough to meet any requirements your school has for health coverage (though do make sure you check the minimum coverage required by your school first!). 

This particular plan covers a lot of things that many others don’t – including mental health disorders, maternity care, and pre-existing conditions. IMG also covers COVID-19 and telemedicine costs for non-urgent cases. 

Plan #2: Student Health Advantage Platinum

This plan is the same as the one above but offers double the maximum coverage: $1,000,000

What I like about IMG’s International Student Insurance:

  • These plans are designed specifically for students
  • They cover students of all nationalities 
  • They have more than 17,000 healthcare providers for you to choose from around the world 
  • Their have 24/7 customer service 
  • They cover COVID-19 and telemedicine consultations

What I don’t like about IMG’s International Student Insurance:

  • For some of their plans, there is a 1-year waiting period for pre-existing condition coverage 

   2. International Health Insurance for Cigna Global Students Digital Nomads Insurance 2

Cigna Global, one of the largest health insurance companies in the world, offers plans for travelers, expats, and (of course!) international students.

They offer 3 main plans: Silver, Gold and Platinum. These plans will cover you not just in Canada, but in the entire world! And if you have plans to visit the United States during your stay in Canada, you can choose to be covered there as well (though this will make your policy a bit more expensive, so it may be better to just get a short travel insurance policy for your visit to the U.S.).  

Here’s a table comparing your plan options:

Cigna plans are really flexible and let you add on whatever you need (including things like dental and eye treatments or International evacuation and crisis assistance).

The company also has a flexible payment policy and offers several options such as annual, monthly and quarterly payments.

What I like about International Health Insurance for Cigna Global Students:

  • They respond to claims quickly (according to the company, 95% of refund requests are received within 10 days)
  • Their online help center gives you access to a list of more than 3,000 hospitals plus information guides
  • They are partnered with more than 1.65 million hospitals, doctors, clinics, and specialists around the world (giving you plenty of options to choose from if you need medical care) 
  • They have 24/7 assistance to answer any of your questions

What I don’t like about the International Health Insurance for Cigna Global Students:

  • Their most basic plan does not cover prenatal and postnatal care
  • They don’t include coverage for outpatient consultations with specialists and doctors

   3. Foyer Global Health Foyer

Basic or Premium? Short- or long-term stay in Canada? Alone or with the family? Regardless of what you need, you can find a plan with Foyer Global Health that works for you. 

The company has 3 different plans. Here’s a quick snapshot at what each of these plans includes: 


  • Consultations, surgery, and anesthetics
  • Therapeutic devices (such as cardiac pacemakers) if necessary as a rescue measure
  • Congenital diseases (up to a maximum of € 100,000 per life)
  • Does not cover maternity and childbirth care


  • Consultations, surgery, and anesthetics
  • Therapeutic aids and devices (such as artificial limbs and prosthetics) up to € 2,000 
  • Congenital diseases up to a maximum of € 150,000 per life
  • Maternity and childbirth care (up to € 5,000 with a 10-month waiting period)


  • Consultations, surgery, and anesthetics
  • Unlimited therapeutic devices and devices
  • Congenital diseases up to a maximum of € 200,000 per life
  • Maternity care, childbirth care, and midwife or nurse services at the hospital (up to € 20,000 with a 10-month waiting period)

What I like about Foyer Global Health plans:

  • All their plans include consultations, surgeries, and basic dental treatments
  • They have 24-hour customer service by phone and email with experienced advisers, doctors, and specialists
  • They offer evacuation and repatriation service
  • They offer medical support and pre-trip advice (vaccinations, preparation of a first aid kit)

What I don’t like about the Foyer Global Health plans:

  • Their most basic plan does not cover prenatal and postnatal care

   4. StudentSecure Insurance by HCCMIS tokio marine hcc

HCCMIS is another provider that offers insurance for full-time students and scholars studying away from home (alongside the usual travel insurance offerings).

These are the 4 levels of student health insurance coverage they offer (all of which work great for Canada!):

StudentSecure Elite

  • Offers the lowest deductibles and the highest maximum coverage
  • 6-month waiting period before a pre-existing condition can be covered
  • Offers sports coverage for club/intramural/intercollegiate sports
  • Covers personal liability 

StudentSecure Select

  • 6-month waiting period before a pre-existing condition can be covered
  • Optional Crisis Response rider for ransom, your personal belongings, and crisis fees

StudentSecure Budget

  • Pre-existing condition coverage begins 12 months after purchasing the insurance
  • Mid-level benefits & higher deductible (for a lower monthly rate overall) 

StudentSecure Smart

  • Lowest cost plan (with the lowest benefits to match)
  • Highest deductibles of all the plans 
  • Doesn’t cover club sports
  • Can only cover a pre-existing condition on its acute onset

Here is a comparison of the 4 HCC StudentSecure plans (click to see full chart):

What I like about HCCMIS’ StudentSecure plans:

  • They offer emergency dental care (in case of an accident) up to $250 maximum per tooth and $500 maximum in the certificate period
  • They offer a savings plan if you pay your full premium in advance
  • They are some of the most budget-friendly plans on this list 

What I don’t like about the HCCMIS’ StudentSecure plans:

  • There is no coverage for pre-existing conditions in their Smart plan
  • There is a 6-month waiting period for pre-existing condition coverage (even in their Elite plan)
  • There is no coverage for vaccinations unless you get the Elite plan
  • There is no coverage for maternity and nursery care for newborns in the Smart plan
  • Their lower-cost plans can have high deductibles 

   5. Diplomat Long Term and Diplomat International from Global Underwriters Global Underwriters

Global Underwriters offers international health insurance plans for a wide range of travelers, including exchange students and study abroad students. 

When it comes to GU’s plans, I recommend Diplomat Long Term and Diplomat International for international students in Canada.  

What I like about Global Underwriters plans:

  • Their student plans have coverage for medical evacuations, emergency dentistry, and repatriation of remains
  • The Diplomat Long Term and Diplomat International plans offer coverage up to $1,000,000
  • They offer coverage and assistance in case of lost luggage and travel interruptions
  • They have 24/7 customer service 

What I don’t like about the Global Underwriters plans:

  • Their Diplomat International plan does not cover Covid-19
  • Their plans can be a bit more pricey than the others on this list 

2 International Health Insurance Companies That Can Also Be Used by International Students in Canada

The two final companies I’ll list below don’t offer health insurance specifically for students abroad. That said, they do offer international health insurance that will (most likely) be accepted by your school or university as proof of coverage. 

So here’s my advice to you: get a quote for these two companies below and compare it to the quote you get from the companies listed above. If you find that either of these two companies offers good coverage at a lower price than the other options, check in with your Canadian school or university if they accept this type of policy. 

If so, this is a great chance to save money before venturing to your new home! 

   – AetnaAetna

Aetna is a well-known company in the field of health insurance. 

One nice advantage of Aetna is that their plans are really flexible (you can customize based on whatever you need covered), and they have quite good customer service (as far as insurance companies goes, that is). 

What I like about Aetna’s international health insurance:

  • They’ve been in the health insurance industry for 5 decades 
  • They offer flexible and tailored plans 
  • They have 24/7 specialized service
  • Most of their plans offer coverage for emergency evacuations, cancer treatments, repatriation, and hospitalizations
  • They are an insurance company who has won awards such as as “Health Insurer of the Year” and “Best International Private Health Insurance Provider”
  • They have an app that encourages clients to maintain healthier habits with a points and awards system

What I don’t like about Aetna’s international health insurance:

  • Their website is not very clear about the exact coverage for some of their plans 
  • They don’t offer any kind of travel insurance plans 

   – Geoblue

Geoblue is another great option if you’re looking for a health insurance policy to cover you while you study overseas in Canada. 

What I like about Geoblue’s international health insurance:

  • Their plans are very adaptable and flexible based on exactly what you need 
  • They have 24/7 customer service 
  • Some of their plans cover extras like evacuation, preventative medical appointments, and maternity care 
  • You can add on ophthalmology and dentistry care 

What I don’t like about Geoblue’s international health insurance:

  • They don’t serve residents of New York and Washington (though this may not be a problem if you change your official residence to Canada!) 
  • You have to contact an insurance broker and speak to them personally to get an exact quote (which is pretty annoying) 

Types of courses that foreign students can take in Canada

Now that you know all about the best health insurance companies for students in Canada, you probably also have an idea in mind of what type of course you plan to do in the country. 

But if not, here’s a list of the 3 most common courses that international students do in Canada. 

Language courses 

As with the United States, Ireland, and Australia, Canada is also a popular destination for anyone looking to do a language course. You can find courses for French and English, the two most commonly spoken languages in the country. 

The length of a language course in Canada can range anywhere from 1 month to 1 year. 

College courses 

For anyone who’d like to do a college degree overseas, Canada is a great option. Your time studying can vary anywhere from 1 to 5 years. And in some cases, it’s even possible to work at the same time and bring your family (including spouses and children, for example). 

Beyond this, college degrees are an option for many students who’d like to live in Canada later on. Especially if you plan to apply to stay via Express Entry, where completing your college degree in Canada will earn you many points. 

We talked a bit more about programs to immigrate to Canada in this article here. 

If you’re interested in this option, you can find college courses in just about anything – administration, IT, marketing, etc. 

PhDs, specialized degrees, or MBAs 

If you’re looking for professional development, these 3 types of programs are good options. 

Naturally, the duration of these programs can vary. In some cases, it’s possible to work while you’re studying

Visas to study in Canada 

Anyone thinking about studying overseas will need to pay careful attention to the type of visa they need and how they can apply. In Canada, the most common visas for students are student visas and tourist visas. 

In some cases, it’s possible to apply for a visa that also gives you permission to work, or for family visas that permit you to work as well. However, these are conditions that vary significantly based on the course, institution, and course duration chosen. 

So, below I’ll talk a bit more about the two most common visa options for students in Canada. 

Studying in Canada on a tourist visa

Most tourists who need a visa in Canada  need what is called a “Visitor Visa.” But for students, these same tourist visas can be used when your course is less than 6 months. 

However, the Canadian immigration website says that you can also request a student visa even for short courses. One benefit of a student visa is that you can leave and enter the country with no problem during the entire period of your studies. For example, if your plan is to make the most of your time overseas by visiting neighboring countries like the United States, then a student visa will make your life a little easier.  

But if your plan is to stay in Canada for your whole course of less than 6 months, you can apply just for the “Visitor Visa.” 

You can find more info on the official government website

Studying in Canada on a student visa 

If you’re doing a course that’s longer than 6 months, you’ll have no choice but to apply for a student visa. The cost of this visa is $150 and it currently takes, at the minimum, 14 weeks to process. So make sure you apply early! 

Some of the documents you’ll need to apply for a Canadian student visa include your acceptance letter (from the school or university you’ll be studying at), your passport (current and old, if you have one), and proof of finances showing you can support yourself during your stay. 

In which case, the amount you’ll need to have in your account for a 1-year stay is CAD $10,000. 

On the official government website, you can find a more detailed explanation of the visa, the documents required, and the proof of financials. 

In sum…

Once again, here are the 5 best and cheapest health insurance policies for international students in Canada: 

  1. Student Health Advantage from IMG 
  2. International Health Insurance for Cigna Global students 
  3. Foyer Global Health 
  4. StudentSecure Insurance from HCCMIS 
  5. Diplomat Long Term and Diplomat International from Global Underwriters 

In conclusion…

Altogether…as you prepare for your time as an international student in Canada, make sure health insurance isn’t one detail you forget about. 

After all, you may not be able to enroll in school without it…and you don’t want to get stuck paying out-of-pocket for medical expenses! 

If you still have any doubts about these travel insurance options for students in Canada (or about moving abroad in general), let me know in the comments area below and I’ll be happy to help!   

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