Best pet insurance in Canada for 2023
Pets are cherished members of our families, and just like humans, they can experience health issues and accidents that require specialised veterinary care.
The cost of these visits can be significant and often catches pet owners off guard. In fact, according to a study conducted by HelloSafe's team, the average Canadian dog owner spent $2,912 on their canine companion in 2021, while cat owners spent $2,150. These numbers continue to climb each year.
If you're considering pet insurance for your furry friend, it's essential to compare and explore different options. HelloSafe is here to help you find the best pet insurance plans available on the market.
Our comprehensive guide will help you make an informed decision and choose the right coverage to keep your pet happy and healthy while safeguarding your financial well-being.
What is pet insurance?
Just like we have health insurance for ourselves, pet insurance provides coverage for your pet's medical needs. According to the Ontario Veterinary Medical Association, about half of all pets will face some sort of illness or accident throughout their life, and the resulting treatments can come with hefty price tags. This is where pet insurance steps in to help ease the financial burden of pet ownership and provide you with peace of mind.
When it comes to pet insurance plans, there are generally two main types to choose from: accident-only or accident and illness coverage. Accident-only pet insurance provides comprehensive coverage for injury-related vet visits, ensuring your pet receives the necessary care in times of sudden trauma or physical injury.
Whether it's a broken bone, foreign body ingestion, poisoning, torn ligaments, or any other related emergency, these plans have you covered.
Accident and illness pet insurance go beyond covering accidents alone; it also provides protection against a range of health conditions that may affect your pet. From common ailments like allergies, arthritis, and ear infections to more serious concerns such as cancer and urinary tract infections, these policies have you covered.
It's important to note that these conditions must generally not have been pre-existing prior to enrollment and waiting periods.
By signing up for accident and illness pet insurance when your dog is young, you can minimize pre-existing condition exemptions. It's worth mentioning that neither accident-only nor accident and illness policies cover wellness-related items such as vaccines, preventive medications, or spay/neuter procedures.
What does pet insurance cover?
Pet insurance will cover your pet for costs associated with medical bills stemming from various pet-related expenses. Some pet insurance plans also offer wellness packages that include preventative care such as checkups, vaccinations, and parasite prevention, but this is far from the norm. For the most part, the vast majority of pet insurance plans will follow the rules outlined below:
Routine vaccinations |
Cosmetic or elective procedures
Routine and preventative care
Grooming, nail trims, or bathing
Expenses related to pregnancy or whelping
Does pet insurance cover dental?
When it comes to pet insurance coverage for dental care, it's important to note that it's more commonly offered on higher-tier premium plans. For instance, Trupanion offers an optional add-on that reimburses up to 90% of dental expenses for animals.
However, it's crucial to understand that not all pet insurance plans will cover routine dental treatments like exams or cleanings. Typically, dental coverage is limited to treatment directly associated with a covered injury or accident. Some insurance providers may offer additional coverage for preventive dental care through a wellness benefit add-on.
It's essential to carefully review the terms and conditions of different pet insurance plans to determine the extent of dental coverage they offer. By doing so, you can ensure that your furry friend's dental health needs are adequately addressed and that you're making an informed decision to protect their well-being.
How much does pet insurance cost in Canada?
On average, the monthly premiums for pet insurance in Canada are around $24 for cats and $40 for dogs, based on sample premiums obtained from insurers across provinces like Ontario, Alberta, and Quebec.
Like with most insurance plans, it isn’t that simple, and there are a few critical factors that can influence the cost of your pet insurance:
- Pet's breed: Certain pets are more susceptible to specific conditions. Great Danes are prone to hip dysplasia, which may result in higher insurance costs. In general, larger dogs generally have higher insurance premiums.
- Pet's age: As pets age, their likelihood of experiencing accidents and illnesses increases. Gotta love getting old, right? Consequently, insuring older pets tends to be more expensive. Some insurance providers also implement an age-based deductible, raising the deductible amount to offset the higher healthcare costs associated with senior pets.
- Pet's gender: Female pets may be considered lower risk, potentially leading to lower insurance premiums.
- Location: Veterinary costs can vary depending on your geographical location. Factors such as improved access to advanced treatment options and higher labour costs can contribute to increased coverage expenses in certain areas.
While it may initially appear as an additional expense, pet insurance is actually quite affordable when compared to the potential costs of unexpected vet bills. Routine annual wellness checks and vaccinations typically range from $50 to $200 per year.
Emergency visits for unforeseen illnesses or injuries can quickly add up in expenses. In Canada, pet-related expenditures amount to approximately $6.6 billion annually, as reported by Square One. Surprisingly, less than 5% of Canadians have pet insurance coverage for their pets.
Many pet owners only realize the value of pet insurance when faced with a medical emergency for their pet, and unfortunately, without insurance, these expenses can be financially burdensome.
For instance, PetSecure, the largest pet insurance company in Canada, offers medium-level pet insurance policies at an annual cost of around $520.
How much is pet insurance for dogs?
Like most insurances, the cost of dog insurance in Canada varies depending on the policy. Price depends on what is covered, your reimbursement rate, the deductible and the annual payout limit. The age and breed of your dog will also affect the cost of health insurance for your dog.
Below, you can see how much dog insurance costs for Canada’s most common breed using Fetch pet insurance as an example:
|Age||Max annual payout||Max annual deductible||Reimbursement rate||Monthly premium|
How much is pet insurance for a cat?
The cost of cat insurance in Canada also varies on your cat (is it old or a kitten, healthy or sick), on what is covered, on your reimbursement rate, on the deductible and on the annual payout limit.
Below, you can see how much cat insurance costs for Canada’s most common breed using Fetch insurance as an example:
|Age||Max annual payout||Max annual deductible||Reimbursement||Monthly premium|
How does pet insurance work in Canada?
Understanding how pet insurance works is essential to make informed decisions about your pet's healthcare. Let's break it down in a simple and straightforward way. When you have pet insurance, the process generally involves reimbursement. Here's a typical scenario:
- You visit a licensed veterinarian of your choice for your pet's medical needs, such as treating an ear infection.
- You pay the veterinary bill upfront.
- Afterward, you submit a claim to your pet insurance company. This typically includes the vet's invoice and medical records.
- Your insurance provider reviews your claim, considering the specifics of your policy and coverage.
- If the medical problem is covered, the insurer will reimburse you for eligible expenses.
- The time it takes to receive reimbursement varies among insurance companies. It can range from the same day for simple cases to around two weeks for more complex situations.
The amount you'll be reimbursed depends on several factors: your coverage limit, reimbursement rate, and deductible. Let's illustrate this with an example:
What is the coverage limit?
Your coverage limit, or policy limit, is an important aspect of your pet insurance. It determines the maximum amount your insurance provider will reimburse you for eligible medical expenses in a year. It's essential to understand your coverage limits as they vary across different providers.
Some insurers, like Desjardins and Peppermint pet insurance, have per-incident and per-illness maximums within their annual cap. For instance, Desjardins' Bronze Paw plan offers $4,000 of maximum annual coverage, with $2,000 for each accident and $2,000 for each illness condition. On the other hand, Furkin offers a combined accident and illness maximum per year.
Certain providers, including, Desjardins, OVMA, Spot, The Personal Pet Program, and Trupanion, offer unlimited payout options. This means there is no upper limit on the amount you can be reimbursed each year, providing true peace of mind for unexpected expenses.
What is an annual deductible?
Deductibles in pet insurance operate similarly to those in human insurance. Insurance providers typically offer deductible options ranging from $0 to $1000 per year, allowing pet owners to choose based on their preferences and needs. A lower deductible means you'll pay less upfront, but your monthly premiums will be higher. Some providers may also increase the deductible as your pet ages.
When it comes to deductibles, you have a few choices. You can opt for no deductible, an annual deductible, or a lifetime deductible. An annual deductible means you'll need to meet the deductible multiple times throughout your pet's life, while a lifetime per-condition deductible requires payment for a chronic condition only once.
What are the terms of reimbursement?
With most pet insurance companies, you'll need to pay the veterinary bill first and then submit a claim for reimbursement. The exceptions are Trupanion and PHI Direct, which offer direct payment to the vet.
The reimbursement rate is the percentage that your insurer will cover, while the co-insurance represents your share of the claim. For example, with an 80% reimbursement rate, you would only be responsible for 20% of the cost. Most providers offer reimbursement rates ranging from 70% to 90%.
Keep in mind that excessive or costly claims may affect your reimbursement rate if your policy is subject to claims risk management. While your deductible is applied once per year, the reimbursement rate is applicable to each individual claim you make.
It's worth noting that some policies may include claims risk management, where the insurance company evaluates the number and cost of claims. If you submit numerous or expensive claims, your reimbursement rate may decrease, resulting in higher out-of-pocket expenses.
What is the waiting period?
Simply put, a waiting period is the span of time between when you buy your pet insurance policy and when your coverage officially starts. During this waiting period, specific conditions or illnesses may not be covered by your insurance plan.
Let's break down the waiting periods into three categories:
- Waiting periods for accidents: This is the duration before your coverage begins for accidents, such as broken bones or swallowed objects. Typically, the waiting period for accidents is 48 hours. It's comforting to know that your furry companion will be protected against unexpected mishaps shortly after you enroll.
- Waiting periods for illnesses: This refers to the time it takes for coverage to kick in for illnesses like cancer or urinary tract infections. Most pet insurance companies have a standard waiting period of 14 days for illnesses. It's crucial to be aware of this waiting period to ensure you can provide timely care for your pet.
- Waiting periods for other conditions: Certain specific conditions, such as cruciate ligament damage, intervertebral disc disease, or dental coverage, may have their own waiting periods. In general, this waiting period can be as long as 180 days. However, it's worth noting that not all pet insurance companies have waiting periods for these specific conditions. For instance, Pets Plus Us and Trupanion do not impose special waiting periods for cruciate ligaments or intervertebral disc disease.
Benefits and drawbacks of pet insurance in Canada
|1. Cost savings on veterinary bills|
2. Comprehensive coverage options
3. Peace of mind
4. Choose your preferred veterinarian
5. Coverage for all breeds and older pets
|1. Routine visits may not be covered|
2. Out-of-pocket costs may still apply
3. Pre-existing conditions are typically not covered
4. Reimbursement process and upfront payments
5. Consider your needs and usage
6. Breed exclusion
What are the benefits of pet insurance?
- Cost savings on veterinary bills: By having pet insurance, you can potentially save thousands of dollars on veterinary expenses that would otherwise come out of your own pocket. For instance, if your pet develops a condition like hip dysplasia, the long-term cost of medications and surgery can exceed $7,800. However, with the right insurance policy offering coverage of $10,000, an 80% reimbursement rate, and a $100 deductible, your expenses would be significantly reduced to just $1,660. This means you can focus on your pet's recovery without worrying about the financial burden.
- Comprehensive coverage options: With more inclusive policies, such as those that cover dental care, you are more likely to prioritize your pet's regular check-ups and preventive care. Knowing that the costs will be taken care of by your insurance can encourage you to be proactive in maintaining your pet's overall health and well-being.
- Peace of mind: One of the greatest advantages of pet insurance is the reassurance it provides to pet parents. It grants you the confidence that, in the event of an accident or illness, you can afford the necessary treatment for your beloved companion. This peace of mind allows you to make decisions based on what's best for your pet's health rather than being constrained by financial concerns.
- Choose your preferred veterinarian: Unlike some human health insurance policies, pet insurance allows you to select the veterinarian you trust and prefer to treat your beloved furry friend, giving you peace of mind and control over your pet's healthcare decisions.
- Coverage for all breeds and older pets: While it's recommended to get pet insurance early to secure lower premiums, you can still obtain coverage for your pet even years later. However, it's important to note that as pets age, the likelihood of pre-existing conditions increases, which may be excluded from coverage.
What are the drawbacks of pet insurance?
- Routine visits may not be covered: Many pet insurance policies do not include coverage for routine checkups and vaccinations, which means you'll need to cover these regular expenses out-of-pocket.
- Out-of-pocket costs may still apply: Even with a comprehensive pet insurance package, it's essential to understand that not all treatments or procedures may be covered. There may be certain exclusions or limitations to the coverage provided.
- Pre-existing conditions are typically not covered: If your pet has been diagnosed with pre-existing conditions such as allergies or cancer before obtaining insurance, any related treatment expenses may not be covered under the policy.
- Reimbursement process and upfront payments: Some pet insurance providers require you to pay the veterinarian directly and then submit a reimbursement claim. It's important to familiarize yourself with the reimbursement process and understand the turnaround times for receiving the reimbursement.
- Consider your needs and usage: When selecting a pet insurance plan, it's crucial to assess your pet's specific needs and your financial situation. Be mindful that you may end up paying for benefits that you may not fully utilize, so it's essential to find a balance that aligns with your pet's health and your budget.
- Breed exclusion: Breed-specific exclusions refer to limitations imposed by insurance companies on coverage for hereditary illnesses that are common in certain breeds. For instance, large dog breeds like Great Danes may be susceptible to conditions like hip dysplasia, while Dalmatians may be prone to urinary tract issues. These breed-related health concerns may not be covered by pet insurance policies with breed exclusions.
Is pet insurance worth it?
When it comes to the question of whether pet insurance is worth the cost, the consensus among most veterinarians is a resounding "yes." Why? Because pet insurance provides peace of mind and removes the financial anxiety associated with making crucial healthcare decisions for your beloved pet in the face of unexpected events. And let's face it, those incidents occur more frequently than we anticipate.
According to a survey by Angus Reid, a significant 71% of pet owners reported needing veterinary care for a serious illness, while 52% required emergency visits.
Among those who have pet insurance, 22% described it as a "total lifesaver," and 34% acknowledged that although they haven't always needed insurance, it was comforting to have. Only a mere 10% deemed it entirely useless.
When we consider the numbers, pet insurance serves as a valuable buffer against the costs of covered medical treatments at veterinary clinics.
However, whether you come out ahead financially depends on various factors, including the amount you pay in premiums, your deductible, and the reimbursement percentage offered by your chosen policy.
Another critical aspect is the frequency of claims you make. If you have a pet prone to accidents or if your furry companion develops a chronic condition, pet insurance can potentially save you thousands of dollars throughout their lifetime.
Good to know
It's worth noting that some insurers may adjust your reimbursement if you file numerous claims within a policy year. That being said, if your pet remains healthy and injury-free, you may end up paying more in premiums than you receive in reimbursements. Similar to any insurance plan, pet insurance prepares you for the worst while hoping for the best.
The Best Pet Insurance Companies in Canada
|Pet insurance companies||Pet insurances' logo||Notes & Considerations|
|Fetch by Dodo|
FAQ About Pet Insurance
How much is pet insurance?
The cost of pet insurance can vary depending on several factors, including the type of coverage, the age and breed of your pet, your location, and the insurance provider you choose.
On average, monthly premiums for pet insurance in Canada generally range from $30 to $50 for dogs and $15 to $30 for cats. However, it's important to obtain quotes from different insurance companies to get an accurate estimate based on your specific circumstances.
Is pet insurance worth it in Canada?
Whether pet insurance is worth it depends on your individual circumstances and the needs of your pet. Pet insurance can help cover unexpected veterinary costs and provide financial protection in case of accidents, illnesses, or injuries.
It can offer peace of mind knowing that you can provide necessary medical care for your pet without worrying about the financial burden. However, it's important to carefully review the coverage, exclusions, and limitations of each insurance policy to determine if it aligns with your needs and budget.
How much is pet insurance in Ontario?
The cost of pet insurance in Ontario is similar to the cost in other parts of Canada and can vary based on the factors mentioned earlier. It's recommended to obtain quotes from different insurance providers to get an accurate idea of the pricing specific to your location in Ontario.
What does pet insurance cover?
Pet insurance typically covers veterinary expenses related to accidents, illnesses, and injuries. The coverage can include diagnostic tests, surgeries, medications, hospitalisation, specialist care, and in some cases, alternative therapies.
However, it's important to review the specific policy details as coverage can vary between insurance providers and different plans.
Does pet insurance cover neutering?
Pet insurance generally does not cover routine preventive care, such as spaying or neutering, vaccinations, or regular check-ups. However, some comprehensive plans or optional add-ons may offer coverage for certain preventive procedures.
It's important to review the policy terms and conditions to understand what is included in the coverage.
What is a deductible in pet insurance?
A deductible in pet insurance refers to the amount you are responsible for paying out of pocket before the insurance coverage starts.
For example, if you have a $200 deductible and your veterinary bill is $1,000, you would need to pay the $200 deductible, and the insurance would cover the remaining eligible expenses according to the policy terms.
Deductibles can vary based on the insurance plan you choose, and higher deductibles generally result in lower monthly premiums.
Keep reading about pet insurance
Have more questions about pet insurance? Explore our other in-depth articles and reviews on different pet insurance providers, pre-existing conditions, and everything else you need to know.
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