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Health insurance for Canadian citizens living abroad

How To Get Health Insurance For Canadian Citizens Living Abroad

avatar - Natalie Harris

Natalie Harris

Policy Services Manager

If you’re a Canadian citizen planning on living abroad or just looking to escape the cold winter, you’re probably considering international health insurance. As a specialist insurance provider, we can provide private health insurance for Canadian citizens living outside Canada – whether you’ve got a specific country in mind or want to be covered worldwide.

This guide will show you how to get healthcare abroad, how to get started with William Russell, and the perks of being a member.

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How to get health insurance as a Canadian living abroad

A common method for finding international health insurance is using an insurance broker. A broker can help you compare different medical insurance plans for the country you’re looking at. Of course, if you’ve yet to decide where you want to go, getting the right quotes might take a bit of back and forth and be time-consuming.

Another option is to approach an insurance provider directly to get a quote. For instance, William Russell can give you a quote in less than two minutes for a country of your choice or for worldwide cover. As it takes so little time, you can get a quote for each country you may consider living in.

How Canadian citizens can become William Russell members

Obtaining international health insurance with William Russell is as simple as it gets. Here’s how to become a member:

  1. Get a quote. Just add the essential details and choose the primary country you’ll be staying in. You can also select your excess at this stage.
  2. You’ll get a price range for each of our four plans. At this step, you can also choose your area of coverage.
  3. From here, we’ll assign you a dedicated team member to make sure you fully understand your policy. If you haven’t decided on a destination yet and are comparing multiple quotes in different countries, just let your policy manager know and they can help you compare prices on our plans in various destinations.
  4. Once you’re happy, apply for a plan. When we approve your plan and receive your first payment, you officially become a member with William Russell!

How William Russell works

We want our members to have a stress-free experience. That’s why we write all our policies in plain English. We’ll also have a policy manager assigned to you to ensure you fully understand your policy and what you’re covered for.

We offer four plan levels: Bronze, SilverLite, Silver, and Gold. Each plan provides varying levels of health insurance coverage, catering to different needs.

Here’s a closer look at what our medical insurance covers:

Cover on all our plans

  • Hospital treatment
  • Local ambulances (including air ambulance)
  • Advanced diagnostic tests
  • Cancer treatment (including genome testing of cancerous cells)
  • Transplants
  • Emergency medical evacuation
  • Access to a 24hr emergency helpline

Cover on some of our plans

  • Doctor visits and other out-patient care (all plans but Bronze)
  • Routine pregnancy & maternity care (Gold plan only*)
  • Dental care (different options on SilverLite, Silver & Gold**)
  • Mental health treatment (Bronze, Silver & Gold)

*Bronze and Silver plans cover complications of pregnancy
**All plans cover emergency restorative dental treatment

Want to find out more about what we cover?
Read more about what we cover to match your needs

We also offer six different areas of coverage on our health insurance for Canadian citizens living abroad. If you’re Canadian and you want full cover during trips back home, Zone 1 is your best bet. If you’re happy with limited cover back home, then Zone 2 might be suitable.

Zone 1 Zone 2 Zone 3 Zone 4 Zone 5 Zone 7*
Worldwide cover, with restricted cover in the USA Full cover in most countries, with restricted cover where private healthcare is expensive but no cover in the USA Special area of cover for residents in Indonesia, with restricted cover where private healthcare is expensive but no cover in the USA Full cover in Africa & Indian Subcontinent, with restricted cover elsewhere but no cover in the USA Full cover in Africa (except South Africa) & Indian Subcontinent, with restricted cover elsewhere but no cover in the USA Full cover in Southeast Asia only

*Wondering if there is a Zone 6? There is, but we use it on our international life insurance plans only.

How do you claim with William Russell? 

There are three ways to make a claim: out-patient (does not require a hospital stay i.e. visit to doctor’s surgery), in-patient (when someone stays in hospital overnight), and emergency (for more clarity on what these terms mean, check out this article). 

  1. For out-patient claims, you pay the hospital, and we reimburse you. A doctor’s note is needed when the medical expense exceeds US$500, which you can submit with your online claim form.
  2. We pay the hospital directly for in-patient cases (whether it’s a planned visit or an emergency), and you cover the excess.
  3. Call our emergency helpline if you require medical evacuation in a life or limb-threatening situation, which can’t be treated locally. Our helpline is available 24/7, 365 days of the year. We’ll assess your situation and handle the logistics. We’ll even arrange an air ambulance if necessary.
Want to know more about medevac or repatriation insurance?
Find out more about our medical evacuation process

Why choose William Russell for your international health insurance? 

There are many insurance providers out there – so what makes us special?

We specialise in international health insurance for expats and people living and working abroad, even temporarily. Unlike other providers offering international coverage as a side-product, our chief priority is to provide high-quality insurance to expats living overseas.

Here are a few qualities that set us apart:

Insurance that goes where you do 

You need an insurance plan that’s as adaptable as you are. We provide several areas of coverage to fit your geographical needs as a Canadian expatriate. Whether you decide to live in Mexico for the winter or another continent, our international health insurance plans will ensure you’re covered. You can personalise your plan to your location and needs, giving you complete flexibility and peace of mind.

Specialists in international health insurance

We understand the unique challenges individuals living abroad face, from navigating foreign healthcare systems and adapting to the culture to dealing with cross-border bureaucracy. With over three decades of experience, we know how to meet the specific needs of our international members, ensuring they can access the medical care they need wherever they might be.

Partnerships with top hospitals

When you’re ill, the last thing you want to worry about is whether the hospital will accept your insurance. That’s why we’ve established partnerships with top hospitals and medical facilities worldwide. We’ll pay these partner hospitals directly, meaning you don’t have to worry about paying for your medical services upfront. 

As a member, you’ll be free to choose any hospital within your coverage zone for your treatment, giving you control over who you see and where you get treated (as long as it’s covered by your policy). 

View a complete list of
hospitals in our network

24/7 emergency helpline

Emergencies don’t care about office hours, so our emergency helpline is available 24 hours a day, 365 days of the year. Our multilingual support team will provide immediate assistance, ensuring you’re never alone during a medical emergency. Whether you need help finding the nearest suitable healthcare facility or even an evacuation because you can’t get care locally, we’re here to help.

Efficient evacuation process

In serious medical situations, quick and efficient evacuation can be life-saving. If you’re in a life or limb-threatening situation and can’t get treatment locally, our comprehensive evacuation process will get you to the nearest suitable medical facility as quickly as possible. We’ll pay for your transport back home to Canada if you need it. If you opt for our Medevac Plus (an add-on available on all our plans), we’ll pay for a companion’s transport back to Canada, too.  

Easy claims process

We understand that dealing with insurance claims can be stressful, especially when unwell. That’s why we’ve made our claims process as straightforward as possible. Whether you’re seeking reimbursement for an out-patient procedure or arranging payment for a hospital stay, our clear processes and helpful team make the process easy to navigate.

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about our claims process?

Personalised claim handling within 10 days

Every claim is unique. Our personalised approach to claim handling means treating each case individually and considering your specific circumstances. And we aim to process all claims within 10 working days, so you won’t be left waiting.

Specialist teams for cancer, emergency, and maternity claims

Facing a serious illness or medical emergency can be daunting, which is why we have specialist teams to handle cancer, emergency, and maternity claims. These teams have in-depth knowledge and experience in their respective fields, ensuring your claims are managed efficiently and empathetically. We’re here to support you during these challenging times so that you can focus on your recovery.

Insurance reliability

When choosing an insurance provider, you want the assurance of stability and reliability. An insurance company within the Allianz group of companies has been insuring our plans since 2002. With William Russell, you get a winning combination of security and personalised care.

Designed for expats living outside their home country for 6+ months

If you’re a Canadian expat planning on living abroad for at least six months, William Russell can offer you a health insurance plan. Our plans offer flexibility, comprehensive coverage, and an excellent customer experience (we have a 4.4/5 rating on Feefo).

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FAQ on health insurance for Canadian citizens living abroad

Some provincial Medicare plans may cover some emergency cover when you’re abroad, however, it’s typically not the full amount. There are certain countries that will offer free public healthcare that Canadian citizens can take advantage of.

Which countries have free healthcare for expats?

You can travel abroad indefinitely without losing your Canadian citizenship. If you are a permanent resident (PR), you must stay in Canada for 730 days (2 years) within any 5-year period to maintain your PR status. Bear in mind that Canadians can take foreign citizenship while retaining their Canadian citizenship.

Your Canadian healthcare plan may cover you for emergency medical treatment in the US, thought you’d need to check with your provincial healthcare provider to be sure. Travel insurance may provide greater coverage if you plan to stay in the US for a limited time.

However, if you plan on living in the United States for a long period of time (six months to a year or more), you may want to consider taking out an insurance plan from a US insurance provider. 

With William Russell, you can have limited coverage in the USA with a worldwide health insurance plan. However, we cannot provide cover to permanent residents in the USA.

Yes, but it depends on each country’s healthcare system.

While you can receive healthcare in any country, it’s essential to understand the specific healthcare regulations and provisions of the country you’re in. For instance, certain countries might require you to be insured – while others can offer you free public healthcare.

It’s important to do your research before you go to avoid costly medical expenses in case of injury or illness while living abroad.

The cost of private health insurance for ‘snowbirds’ (North Americans living away from home during harsh winter months) can vary widely.

It depends on numerous factors, including the area of coverage, personal medical history, and the specific benefits selected.

With William Russell, you can apply for an international health insurance plan if you’re going to live in another country for at least 6 months.

Find out more about what our plans cover

Choose William Russell for your international health insurance 

Living abroad is an amazing experience, but it’s essential to stay protected with the right international health insurance. As a Canadian citizen living abroad, choosing a provider like William Russell gives you a wide range of comprehensive expat health insurance plans to choose from. With our clear and easy-to-understand processes, specialist teams, affiliations with top hospitals, and 30+ years in the business, you can embark on your overseas adventure with confidence and peace of mind.

So whether you’re living abroad for an extended period or simply escaping the Canadian winter as a ‘snowbird’, William Russell could have the plan for you.

Get health insurance as a Canadian citizen living abroad

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