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Best Pet Insurance in Canada: Find The Right Coverage for your Dog or Cat

Best Pet Insurance in Canada: Find The Right Coverage for your Dog or Cat

The pet business is booming. In the U.S. alone, the pet industry has become a $60 billion dollar-per-year business, with pet owners spending a good chunk of that money on veterinary care. Add to that the fact that vet bills are only getting more expensive, and it’s no wonder that people are turning to pet insurance for relief, not to mention peace of mind.

Let’s face it, we love our pets. They really do become part of the family. That’s why it can be so difficult when faced with an unexpected health issue for your dog or cat, along with the prospect of an expensive vet bill.

Thankfully, pet insurance is available to help in these situations, by easing the financial burden so that you can focus on making the best decision for your pet’s health. In Canada, there is no shortage of pet insurance companies to choose from, and the offering varies from one provider to the next.

Because of this, I’ve created this pet insurance review, to help guide you through the process of choosing the right insurance for your dog or cat. Before we look at what’s available, let’s take a closer look at how pet insurance actually works.

How Does Pet Insurance Work?

Dog or cat insurance is very similar to other types of insurance. That is, should your pet suffer an unexpected illness or be injured in an accident, the insurance is there to cover the cost of the vet bills. As the pet owner, you pay a monthly premium for the coverage, as well as the deductible should you have to make a claim.

Deductibles can range between 10-30% of the overall cost of treatment. Premiums will vary depending on several factors, and there are limits placed on the dollar amount of coverage you can receive for each incident. I should point out, that some top-tier plans don’t place caps on coverage.

Many pet insurance companies are now offering wellness packages, which are optional, and are different than pet insurance. Instead of assisting with unexpected expenses, wellness plans are there for routine veterinary procedures, the ones you plan for. Most plans don’t cover routine care, like checkups, but alternative therapies are available with some pet insurance policies.

How Much Does Pet Insurance Cost?

There are a number of factors that go into determining the cost of pet insurance premiums, including your pet’s age, the type of animal (whether it’s a dog or cat), and the breed. Obviously, the younger your pet, the lower the premiums will be. Because cats tend to outlive dogs, their premiums are lower. Amongst canines, small breeds are cheaper to insure than large breeds, due to their longer life expectancies. Because the premiums and coverage details will vary between insurance companies, it’s important to shop around before making a decision.

What Does Pet Insurance Cover?

The coverage offered by each pet insurance company will vary, along with the cost, hence the need for reviews like this one. It’s important to know what’s included in your plan, and whether the price you’re paying each month is worth the benefit. Here is a list of treatments commonly covered by pet insurance in Canada:

  • Illness
  • Accidents/injuries
  • Hereditary and congenital conditions
  • Medication
  • Diagnostic tests ie. X-rays, bloodwork
  • Surgery
  • Hospitalization
  • Prescriptions
  • Dental Coverage

Some pet insurance companies offer wellness care, for an additional fee. This is different than regular pet insurance, in that it’s designed to help with the costs that you expect. Wellness plans tend to be expensive, so you really need to do your research to decide if they’re worth paying for. Here’s a list of expenses often included in pet wellness plans:

  • Checkup fees
  • Vaccinations
  • Routine lab work
  • Dental cleaning
  • Microchip procedures
  • Spay/neuter
  • Parasite prevention

What’s Not Covered By Pet Insurance?

While coverage varies between insurance providers, there are a few common exclusions that you’ll want to be aware of. These include pre-existing conditions, waiting periods, and coverage maximums. Let’s take a closer look at each one.

Pre-existing Conditions

Pet insurance doesn’t cover pre-existing conditions, should your pet encounter an illness or injury related to that specific issue. This can include any symptom or condition identified prior to the beginning of the coverage period, whether or not it was formally diagnosed by a veterinarian. Pet insurance companies will also require that dogs or cats over a certain age be examined by a veterinarian prior to approval.

Waiting Periods

Another thing to consider is the waiting period. When you sign up for insurance, the coverage won’t take effect immediately. Accident coverage won’t usually kick in for 24-48 hours, while the waiting period for illness coverage is even longer, up to 30 days or more. Insurance companies do this to prevent pet owners from only taking out insurance after being faced with a costly medical bill.

Maximum Coverage Amounts

While some pet insurance companies have a plan that offers unlimited coverage per claim, there are coverage limits on most plans. For example, the maximum coverage you can receive per accident/illness with CAA pet insurance is $4500, under their Luxury Plan. If it’s important that your dog or cat is covered for even the most costly procedure, consider an insurance plan with no coverage limit, keeping in mind that the premium will be very expensive.

Comparing Pet Insurance Coverage in Canada

Now that you know how pet insurance works, let’s take a look at what’s available from the leading pet insurance companies in Canada. For this review, I’ve included no less than six providers. I’ve made a point not to name a definitive #1 because what’s best really depends on the type of coverage you need for your dog or cat. What I have done is highlight what I like most about each insurer, and hopefully provided you with enough information so that you can decide for yourself.

Trupanion Canada

Trupanion Canada has been providing pet insurance to Canadians since 2000, and according to its website, insures more pets than any other company. When looking at Trupanion coverage, one of the first things that stand out is the fact that they don’t place limits on the amount of coverage you receive. While other providers limit you to $2500, or $4500 per claim, there is no maximum with Trupanion. With vet costs as high as they are, this will offer much-needed peace of mind if your pet becomes ill or is injured.

Trupanion Canada will reimburse 90% of your vet expense, and they are the only insurance company that pays claims directly to the veterinarian, through something they call Vet Direct Pay. This is a nice, added convenience. With other insurance plans, the pet owner pays the bill in full, upfront, before sending in their receipts for reimbursement. With Trupanion, all you pay is the deductible.

Top Features: No coverage limits, direct pay

Other Features:

  • Coverage of 90% of the vet bill
  • No lifetime caps on accident or illness coverage
  • Claims paid directly to veterinarian through Vet Direct Pay
  • Extensive coverage includes hereditary, congenital, and unidentified conditions
  • Pets over 14 years old cannot be enrolled

Hudson’s Bay Pet Insurance

Hudson’s Bay Financial Services offers Pet Insurance to its customers. In fact, when you purchase coverage, you earn up to 4000 Hudson’s Bay Rewards points yearly, depending upon the plan you choose. There are three comprehensive pet insurance plans: Basic Care, Enhanced Care, and Enhanced Care Plus.

Hudson’s Bay Pet Insurance is underwritten by Petline Insurance, the same company that underwrites plans from Petsecure, Desjardins, and more. Premiums start at $15.23 per month for cats and $22.59 per month for dogs, though costs vary depending on the breed and geographic region.

Top Feature: Earn Hudson’s Bay Rewards Points

Other Features:

  • Canadian-based insurance coverage
  • Multiple-pet discounts are available
  • Accident and illness coverage of up to $4000 per year
  • Dental coverage is available
  • Alternative and behavioural therapy
  • Medical device coverage
  • Up to 80% coverage

Pets Plus Us

Pets Plus Us is a newer entrant in the Canadian pet insurance field, providing a range of insurance coverage options for both dogs and cats. While CAA pet insurance is only available in certain provinces, Pets Plus Us coverage is can be purchased in any Canadian province or territory. With Pets Plus Us, you have the choice of taking both accident and illness or accident-only coverage, and your premiums will not increase based on the number of claims you’ve made in the past. One downside is that they only guarantee reimbursement of a claim within six months, much slower than some of the competition.

Top Feature: Available Canada-wide

Other features:

  • Optional wellness package available
  • Coverage of 70-90% of the vet bill
  • Coverage between $5000 and $15000, no unlimited
  • Choose between accident or illness coverage, or both
  • Claim reimbursement for up to 6 months

Petsecure Canada

Petsecure is a longstanding pet insurance company, having served Canadians since 1989. They offer 4 levels of insurance coverage (Secure 1-4) for both cats and dogs. According to their website, Secure 1 has an average cost of $41/month for dogs, with coverage limited to $1000 per incident. The highest tier, Secure 4, which is closer to $140 per month, has unlimited coverage, and access to a wellness package for routine treatments for an additional $450, a nice, yet pricey option. As with most providers, payment is reimbursed directly to the pet owner, by cheque or direct deposit.

Top Feature: Multi-Insured Discount

Other Features:

  • Service available in English and French
  • Wellness coverage available for routine treatment
  • Coverage of 80% of the vet bill
  • Save 10% when 3 or more pets are covered
  • Coverage limits range from $1000 per incident, to unlimited
  • Claims processed as reimbursement via cheque or direct deposit

Fetch by Dodo (formerly Petplan Canada)

Fetch by the Dodo, formerly Petplan Canada, is available in both Canada and the US, meaning that you’re covered for up to 90% of your unexpected vet bill when you make a trip to the vet in either country. This is great for snowbirds or anyone who travels across the border with their pets.

What I like about Fetch is the level of customization they offer with their coverage. The plans are not clearly displayed as they are on the CAA site, but it only took a few seconds to receive a personalized quote after entering my fictitious pet’s information.

One thing to note, as far as I can see, Fetch does not offer a wellness package to cover routine treatments, like checkups. Payments are made to the pet owner as a reimbursement once approved.

Top Feature: Plan Customization

Other Features:

  • Coverage up to 90% of the vet bill
  • Personalized quotes available on the website
  • No wellness package is available
  • Unlimited coverage available

Costco Pet Insurance

Note: Costco Pet Insurance is provided by Pets Plus Us, which I covered earlier in this review.

The benefit to Costco members comes from a discounted monthly premium, including the first month free. If you’re looking at Pets + Us for your pet insurance and have a Costco membership, it may make sense to purchase your coverage through Costco. Membership indeed does have its privileges.

Top Feature: Costco membership savings

Other features:

  • Optional wellness package available
  • Coverage of 70-90% of the vet bill
  • Coverage between $5000 and $15000, no unlimited
  • Choose between accident or illness coverage, or both
  • Claim reimbursement for up to 6 months

Desjardins Pet Insurance

Desjardins offers three tiers of pet insurance coverage for your dog or cat and discounts if you insure three or more pets. The basic plan is Bronze Paw, offering up to $2,000 of illness coverage annually, $2,000 of accident coverage, and optional dental care coverage of up to $500 per year. Silver Paw ups the illness and Accident benefit to a maximum of $4000 each per year. And the top-tier plan, Gold Paw, comes with standard dental care of up to $1,000 per year and unlimited illness and accident coverage.

Desjardins insurance coverage options are easy to understand and clearly laid out on their website, and they even let you know the average cost of each monthly plan. For example, Desjardins estimates that Bronze Paw coverage for your dog or cat will be $37 and $26 per month, respectively.

What we like: Alternative therapy, behavioural therapy, and medical device coverages are available.

Other Features:

  • $100 deductible is a reasonable cost
  • Coverage is easy to understand
  • 80% coverage
  • Dental treatment is available with all three plans (optional with Bronze Paw)
  • Gold Paw coverage is ideal for older pets

Is Pet Insurance Worth the Cost?

Are pet insurance policies worth the cost? It’s a million-dollar question, and the answer will vary from person to person. It is up to you to decide how much you’re willing to spend on your pet, including health insurance. For some people, no cost is too high. If you’re undecided on purchasing pet insurance, I think it’s best to consider a worst-case scenario.

How would you react if you were suddenly faced with a $4000 vet bill and didn’t have health insurance for your pet? Would you be able to shoulder the expense without it causing undue hardship? If the answer is no, but you feel you can afford the monthly premium, then pet insurance might be worth considering.

Comments

  1. Jax

    You could have covered which has dental protection which is a major component of this competitive landscape of pet insurance.

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