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Pet Insurance in Canada

Being a pet owner in Canada involves more than just taking your dog out for a walk, feeding him and showing him off. A big part of pet ownership is ensuring your pet gets the veterinary care it needs whether it’s for annual vaccinations or emergency medical care. Unfortunately, many pet owners aren’t able to provide their pets with the best care because of the high cost of veterinary services. In many of these cases, pet insurance can make all the difference in the type of care provided to the pet.

Pet Insurance in Canada

The cost of pet insurance in Canada can vary by company, location and the type of services offered and requested. The average premium for pet insurance in Canada is $29 a month for a cat and $39 a month for a dog. While this may seem like a high and unnecessary monthly expense, it’s actually quite affordable when you consider the high cost of emergency vet bills. The cost of annual wellness checks and vaccinations are from $50 to $200 annually, which is usually pretty reasonable.

However, emergency visits for unexpected illnesses or injuries can really become costly. According to a 2012 MoneySense report, Canadians spend approximately $4 billion each year on their pets. Surprisingly enough, less than 5% of Canadians carry a pet insurance policy on their pets. Many pet owners don’t realize the value of pet insurance until a medical emergency pops up with their pet, and they have no pet insurance. PetSecure, which is the largest pet insurance company in Canada, charges about $520 annually for a medium-level pet insurance policy.

When you look at the following data regarding pets in Canada and their associated costs, it may make sense to look at putting money into pet insurance every month ‘just in case.’

Dogs & Cats in Canada

Sources: Canadian Animal Health Institute, Canadian Veterinary Medical Association, Statistics Canada, Ipsos Reid, Canadian Veterinary Journal

How Does Pet Insurance Work?

Pet insurance works in much the same way as our health insurance. The pet insurance company may offer a variety of insurance packages with each one offering different levels of coverage. You pay a monthly or annual premium for the insurance. The premium is based on the animal, age, location, gender, breed and the amount of coverage. You’re required to pay a deductible, which is the amount you must pay each year before the insurance pays as well as a co-pay amount.

Say, for instance, you chose an insurance policy with a $500 deductible and a 20% co-pay. If your vet bill is $2,000, you will be required to pay $300 ($2,000 – $500 = $1,500 X .20%). Pet insurance policies not only pay for emergency illnesses and accidents, they also provide coverage for more advanced care such as chemotherapy and MRI, as well as alternative therapies such as acupuncture and chiropractic care. Additionally, you may be able to purchase coverage for some routine visits.

Pet Insurance Companies in Canada

There are several pet insurance companies in Canada. While their premiums might vary a little, they all offer similar coverage for pets. Here are some Canadian pet insurance companies and a short description of coverage on a medium-level plan, which is the most common.

Petplan Canada

Provides coverage to pets at least six weeks old. Offers a choice of annual deductibles from $100 to $2,500 and co-pays of 10%, 20% or 30% after deductible is paid. Monthly premiums range from $16 to $60.

Trupanion Canada

Provides coverage to pets from eight weeks to 14 years old. Offers a choice of annual deductibles from $0 to $1,000 and co-pays of 10% after deductible is paid. Monthly premiums vary by breed, age, gender and deductible chosen.

Petsecure Canada

Offers four different levels of coverage for accident, illness and dental treatments to pets at least eight weeks old. Deductibles range from $100 to $700 and co-pays of 20% after deductible is paid. The maximum amount of coverage changes based on the plan chosen. For instance, the lowest package pays for $1,000 per accident; $1000 per illness and $250 dental per year while the highest package pays unlimited coverage for accidents and illness and $600 for dental. Premiums are based on breed, coverage and location.

Petsplus US

Provides coverage to pets at least seven weeks old. Offers a choice of annual deductibles from $100 to $700 (age-based) and co-pays of 10%, 20% or 30% after deductible is paid. Monthly premiums range from $19 to $89.

24 Pet Watch

Provides coverage to pets from eight weeks to 11 years old or 13 for cats. Offers a choice of annual deductibles from $100 to $1,000 and co-pays of 20% after deductible is paid. Monthly premiums range from $11 to $100 based on species, breed, location, age and plan chosen.

What to Look for in Pet Insurance Options

Before choosing a pet insurance company, it’s important to do your research and not only know what each company offers but also which policy best fits your needs. Getting the cheapest pet insurance is not as important as getting the one that fits your pocketbook and your pet’s needs. Here are some things to look at prior to purchasing a pet insurance policy.

  • Enrollment requirements – Some companies require a pet be within a certain age group and must have a physical examination prior to or within a certain time frame after enrollment.
  • What is covered – Some policies cover both accident and illness while others may only cover accidents. Make sure you know what you’re getting.
  • What treatments are covered – Some policies will pay for wellness checks as well as emergency visits while others are only for emergencies. Are the exam fees covered? Will they provide continual coverage if needed? Don’t be afraid to ask questions.
  • Payout limits – Make sure you find out if there is a maximum limit of what they’ll pay for treatment and how much that limit might be.
  • Deductible amount – Find out what deductibles they offer. The difference of a 10% and a 30% deductible on a $10,000 bill is $1,000 or $3,000.
  • Pre-existing conditions – Does the company pay for pre-existing conditions? If they do, find out how much they’ll pay and what types they’ll pay for. Some companies will let a certain amount of time expire (often two years) and then cover an ailment again.
  • Exclusions – Many insurance companies will exclude certain illnesses or conditions. For instance, treatment for hip dysplasia may not be covered on animals that are prone to developing this illness.
  • Level of reimbursement – Find out if there is a limit on how much they’ll reimburse you for on a bill. Some reimburse you a percentage of your bill while others will only reimburse you for a percentage of what they fill is a “reasonable cost” for that expense. Find out what their limit is prior to purchasing the policy.

Getting a pet insurance policy is a great way to protect your pet from the unexpected, and also a way to ensure they get the quality of care they need to stay healthy for a long time.