Philippines (POLO) Medical Insurance for Canadian Work Visas

Document Verification

Filipino overseas workers with a Canadian work visa are required to have their documents verified by either the Vancouver or Toronto Philippines Overseas Labor Office (POLO) attached to the local Philippines consulate.  As part of the verification process, employee sponsors are required to submit several documents to their POLO office.  One of these documents is medical gap insurance (private medical insurance) to cover the Filipino worker upon arrival in Canada.  The provincial medical program in several Canadian provinces, including MSP in BC and OHIP in Ontario, will not cover new residents during their first three months.

Red Ribbon

Once the worker’s documents have been verified, they are bound with a ‘red ribbon’ and given back to the employer.  The employer then sends the bound documents to the worker, who submits them to the Philippines Overseas Employment Agency (POEA) in Manila in order to secure their exit clearance.  POEA will not issue an exit clearance unless the worker has their documents verified by a Canadian POLO office.

Medical Gap Insurance

While the Toronto POLO office requires a minimum of $50,000 in medical gap insurance, most Canadian visitor’s insurance policies are issued for $100,000.  Hospital costs in Canada can be very expensive, and $50,000 would not be sufficient to cover a lengthy hospital stay.  Employers do have the option of adding a deductible to these policies, but policies for young workers are already fairly inexpensive, so a deductible would not result in significant savings.

There are several insurance companies in Canada who offer visitors policies.  The primary difference is that some of the policies cover complication related to pre-existing medical conditions, and some do not.  For younger workers, this is normally not an issue.  For example, a policy with $100,000 in coverage for 91 days for a 28-year-old worker would range in cost from $194.51 to $479.66.  The lowest-cost $50,000 option is only marginally less at $151.05.

Even if an insurance policy is not required by the local POLO office, employers are still advised to obtain insurance before their workers arrive in Canada.  This is because all policies have a minimum 48-hour waiting period for illness coverage if the policy is purchased after arrival in Canada.  Some of the better policies also initiate coverage upon departure from the traveler’s home country.

Provincial Medical Coverage

Employers should also note that provincial medical insurance is not issued automatically, and must be applied for after the worker arrives in Canada.  If there is any delay in the application for provincial insurance, the waiting period for coverage may be longer than three months.  In this case, employers should contact their insurance broker before their private coverage expires in order to extend coverage for another month.  Likewise, if a work visa expires while a worker is in Canada (even if the worker has ‘Implied Status’), provincial medical coverage will normally terminate, and the worker must then purchase private medical insurance again until they receive a new visa and their provincial medical coverage is re-activated.

About the author
Vance Derban is a licensed insurance broker at BestQuote Travel Insurance Agency.  He can be reached at [email protected]

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