Being a pet owner in Canada involves more than just taking your pet out for a walk, feeding them and showing them off. A big part of pet ownership is ensuring your pet gets the veterinary care they need, whether it’s for annual vaccinations or emergency medical care, and signing up for pet insurance in Canada can help pet parents cover vet bills.
In this article, we at the Guides Home Team will introduce you to the best insurers for pets in Canada.
Best Pet Insurance Companies in Canada
There are several pet insurance companies in Canada. While premiums vary from insurer to insurer, they all offer similar coverage for pets.
*Certain conditions, such as cruciate ligaments or orthopedic conditions, may have longer waiting period times, usually six months to a year. This is common among many pet insurance providers, but most illnesses will be covered after the waiting period listed above.
Cost of Pet Insurance in Canada
The cost of pet insurance in Canada can vary by company, location and the type of services offered and requested. Whether you live in Ontario, Alberta or Quebec, based on sample premiums we obtained from insurers, 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 yearly.
Emergency visits for unexpected illnesses or injuries can really become costly. According to Square One, Canadians spend approximately $6.6 billion a 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.
How Does Pet Insurance Work in Canada?
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 example, 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.
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 to be within a certain age group and to have a physical examination prior to or within a certain time frame after enrollment.
- What is covered: Some policies cover both accidents 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 continuous 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 allowance again.
- Exclusions: Many insurance companies will exclude certain illnesses or conditions. For example, 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 for a percentage of your bill, while others will only reimburse you for a percentage of what they feel 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.
Methodology: Our System for Ranking the Best Pet Insurance Companies
Our review of pet insurance companies is based on in-depth industry research that includes reading hundreds of customer reviews, scoping quotes and purchasing processes by secret shopping, speaking to representatives on the phone to assess the customer service experience, and surveying 1,000 dogs and cats national owners to determine the most important elements of pet insurance coverage.
We scored each provider on a 100-point scale based on those elements. We then divided this final score by 20 to calculate an overall star rating out of 5.0 stars.
Here are more details about each factor and how it’s weighted:
- Monthly pricing (25 points): The best pet insurance companies combine comprehensive coverage and plan options with affordable rates.
- Plans (15 points): The top pet insurance companies offer accident-and-illness plans, accident-only plans and wellness or preventive care add-ons to give customers the option to choose a plan that’s best for their pet.
- Covered treatments (15 points): We scored companies based on the treatments and procedures they cover. Companies with a breadth of included treatments and unique coverages received more points than providers with more standard or general policies.
- Customization options (10 points): Providers with more annual-limit, deductible and reimbursement-rate options earned the highest scores.
- Customer care (10 points): We scored companies on their website accessibility and overall usability, customer service availability, mobile apps (if any), money-back guarantees and veterinarian telehealth options, awarding points to the insurers with more customer experience offerings.
- Industry reputation (10 points): We reviewed up-to-date ratings and accreditation information from the Better Business Bureau (BBB) and scored companies on their years of experience in the industry and their state availability.
- waiting periods (10 points): Companies with shorter accidents, illness and orthopedic waiting periods between the sign-up and coverage start date scored higher than companies with longer waiting periods.
- Eligible age (5 points): Some companies don’t offer policies for pets that are over a certain age. We deducted points from providers that have age limits for covered pets.
We use our rating system to compare and contrast each company against key factors to help us determine the best pet insurance companies in the industry. To learn more, read our full pet insurance methodology for reviewing and scoring providers.