So – you’re thinking of protecting that precious bundle of fur – while at the same time protecting your wallet from an unforeseen tragic turn?
Humans have insurance and medical plans, so why shouldn’t pets? Seems like these days, pet insurance companies have been cropping up like weeds.
As Canadian pet insurance industry has exploded over the last few years with pet insurance companies such as PetSecure, PetPlan, Trupanion, and PC Pet Insurance dominating the local market, we felt like stepping in and making sense of all the mess is in order. All of these new pet insurance providers claim to be putting out plans that allow you to not worry about a last-minute cost-benefit analysis when it comes to a treasured member of your family unit, but who ultimately is the best Canadian pet insurer? The short answer is – as always – it depends.
Best Pet Insurance Company in Canada – 2017 Updated
This guide was originally written in December 2009 and a lot has happened since then, so it was overdue for an update that included all that we have learned in this field for the past eight years, as well as a look at the current market choices. Our choice of the best pet insurance company in Canada is a combination of our subjective experience and pretty comprehensive research, as well as numerous responses we've gotten back over the years, but as always we are always happy to hear out your experience in the comment section. With no further ado, here is our choice for 2017's Pet Insurance Provider:
How Does One Save Money On Pet Insurance?
One HUGE tip to remember to save money with pet insurance is to START EARLY! Get your puppy or kitten on pet insurance sooner rather than later because the older your pet gets, the more expensive the monthly premiums are AND the higher likelihood that more and more illnesses will be “pre-existing”. Basically, if your dog or cat was diagnosed with allergies early on, then whichever pet insurance company you choose will not cover your pet for allergies.
A year ago, after paying $1,500 for multiple vet bills in the span of one month, I thought “that’s it **** – I need to get some pet insurance!” I, like most owners, don't want to put themselves in that awful position of having to decide between a huge hit to my chequing account (or even worse – a credit card balance) and my precious furball. That's why I shopped around to get the best coverage for a monthly premium that wouldn't bankrupt me.
But Wait… Do I Even Need Pet Insurance?!
I’m biased because I have it, but pet insurance can be a great choice to protect your furry friend in the worst case scenario. Unless you have thousands of dollars lying around to cover an emergency vet visit, pet insurance should be on your must-have list for any pet.
But even though I think it’s a great purchase, it’s not one you should make without thinking it through and doing your comparison homework, and there are some key questions you need to work through before you sign up with a pet insurance provider. Read on to find out how we what we looked at when recommending our top favourite pet insurance provider.
a. What Do You Need Pet Insurance For?
Understanding what you want from a policy is a great first step to buying pet insurance, because there’s a lot of variability in the coverage that you can buy. You can get policies that will cover everything from your routine vet checkups, all the way to preventative medicine, or you can go with a policy that will cover most major injuries and illnesses, but little else.
Figure out what you need from your insurance policy to cover before you start looking around at options. Like most insurance policies, it’s a bit of a tug-of-war between paying higher premiums now, versus what you’re covered for going forward.
b. What Kind Of Pet Do You Have?
There’s a lot of variability when it comes to how much different pets cost to insure—even between breeds of the same type of pet.
A small lap dog is likely less expensive to insure than a hyperactive lab mix, and a dog is likely more expensive to insure than a hamster. Additionally, if you have an exotic pet, or one that isn’t the standard dog/cat/small animal mix, you might need to look a bit harder to find insurance. Insurance for iguanas might be harder to find than insurance for a cat, after all.
c. What Will Your Pet Insurance Policy Make You Cover Out of Pocket?
If you’re cool with covering routine vet care for your pet out of pocket – and you have a plan for it in your budget – then you can save a bundle on pet insurance. Plans that cover everything are going to be more expensive on a monthly basis, whereas plans with coverage for only major, unexpected illnesses and injuries will be more affordable month-to-month.
Going with a slimmed down pet insurance policy does mean that you’ll need to have a plan for things like vaccinations, preventative medication, and small injuries. That’s where something like a pet emergency fund can come in really handy (whether or not you have pet insurance). For me, I’m a geek for budgets, so planning for what I can plan for isn’t much of a sacrifice. My pet insurance plan is simply to protect me from an impossible-to-predict worst case scenario that could cost thousands of dollars.
d. How Much Is Your Pet Insurance Deductible?
The other area where you’ll want to have a pet emergency fund in place is to cover your insurance deductible. If you’re not familiar with the term, a deductible is the amount your insurance policy states that you have to pay on something. For example, with car insurance, if you get into a 50/50 fault accident, and the total damage is $8,000. You would pay your $400 deductible, and the insurance company would cut a cheque for $7,600. When it comes to pets, the deductible is the part of the vet bill that comes out of your pocket. It’s possible to find plans that have a very low deductible, but just like plans that cover everything, that low deductible will raise your monthly insurance costs.
If you have a high deductible, make sure you know how much you’d need to cover in the worst case scenario, and save up to make sure you have the cash on hand. For example, my dog’s coverage tops out at $8,000 per calendar year, and we have a 20% deductible (that’s considered pretty high). We keep a stash of $2,000 in an emergency fund specifically to cover the deductible in a worst-case scenario.
e. What Is Your Coverage Limit?
It’s important for you to know the costs of different common vet treatments for your pet before buying insurance, because it can seriously impact how much coverage you need or want to buy. Especially if this is your first pet of this type, you might be really surprised to learn that some fairly common surgeries for cats and dogs can run into the thousands of dollars.
Make sure that your policy’s maximum coverage amount is going to truly have you covered in the worst-case scenario—otherwise, why have the insurance at all?
f. What Isn’t Covered In Your Pet Insurance?
Just like any insurance policy in Canada, pet insurance comes with clauses and exclusions. Make sure to read any policy before you buy it, so you know exactly what is and isn’t covered by your plan.
One memorable example from a friend was when his dog needed surgery for a known issue with his dog’s breed. The surgery cost thousands of dollars, and it was only afterwards that he found out that his pet insurance policy had a clause excluding “known breed-specific issues” from coverage. That’s why you need to make sure you know exactly what you’re buying, and read the policies to find out exactly what’s covered.
g. What Are The Terms Of Your Coverage?
When you start your policy, make sure to look for a specific section about the validity of the policy, and what you need to do to maintain it.
Most of the time, you’ll need to schedule a vet visit for your pet within the first 30 days of the policy, to rule out any pre-existing conditions. Anything found in that visit won’t be covered on your policy, but it’s important to get this visit done as proof later on that there weren’t pre-existing issues—and to make sure your policy stays valid over the long-term.
h. Use Good Canadian Pet Insurance Companies
Once you’ve got these questions answered, you’re ready to buy our pet insurance—and you’re more prepared for it than most people will be. Way to be a responsible pet owner! (If you’re over 25, you probably have Bob Barker’s voice ringing in your head right now). To get you started, here are some of the top pet insurance providers in Canada. We examined these companies through the lens of deductible-to-coverage options, and the transparent nature of their policies.
Canadian Pet Insurance Reviews
Trupanion Pet Insurance Review
If you’re looking for a simple, easy-to-understand pet insurance policy that has withstood the test of time, then you really need to take a look at Trupanion pet insurance. This standard policy applies to both dogs and cats, and emphasizes that they pay 90% of actual costs – not just anticipated costs (which can be a big difference). There is also no payout limit for medication, surgeries etc. If you want to really pamper your pet, optional add-on therapies include homeopathy, naturopathy, chiropractic, acupuncture, and rehab (although these are a little high-end for my tastes. Trupanion also provides 24/7 customer care support. If you’re looking for an excellent value that is easy to understand, and easy to use, Trupanion gets our vote. If you are looking for a more specific/custom (and more expensive) plan, with something like unlimited benefits for a 14-year-old pet, then we’d look elsewhere.
- one-excellent-size-fits-all policy.
- Unlimited payouts and no caps on coverage
- Can pay the vet directly – up to 90% coverage!
- Award winning customer service
- Per-condition deductible (good for chronic conditions)
- Fast payouts and no penalties for filing claim
Petsecure Pet Insurance Review
Petsecure has been a trusted name for decades in Canada, as it the oldest and largest pet health insurance provider, having started in 1989. To this day it is still 100% Canadian-owned and operated. There is something to be said for reassuring tradition and stability when dealing with the health of our furry friends!
Petsecure offers owners four different tiers of coverage options, and has something for every budget. Their policies reimburse up to 80% of covered treatments and vet bills. One super unique aspect of Pet Secure’s insurance options is that they offer the ability to cover any dog or cat of any age or breed. There are also discounts available if you have pet insurance coverage for more than one pet.
If you’re looking for a simple, budget-friendly plan, we’d still recommend Trupanion, but where Petsecure really shines is in it’s ability to offer incredibly comprehensive plans for older animals and a ton of optional add ons such dental coverage, out of country coverage, preventative work.
PetPlan Insurance Review
PetPlan is massive pet insurance company (as opposed to Trupanion – which is quick to point out that they are medical insurance for your pet). Their most common plan essentially covers anything that is not a pre-existing condition or a vaccine. This includes medications, dental, MRI scans, CAT scans… even if it’s a dog ;), ultrasound, and even diagnostic work. While not the cheapest provider in the market, PetPlan will allow you to put together a custom policy that could even include unlimited lifetime benefits – just be prepared to pay for it!
PC Pet Insurance Review
As the only major financial institution to offer pet insurance (that we're aware of), President’s Choice (PC Pet Insurance) offers four plans (ultra, choice, value, accident) to choose from. The coverage is more or less the same for each plan, the premium vs payout is the main difference. Pre-existing medical conditions, foreseeable conditions (not sure how this is defined), obvious symptoms, and any injuries that exist before you purchase your insurance – are all not covered. There is technically no age limit, but dogs over the 10-years-old and cats over 8-years-old need to qualify with a vet health check two months before you apply. Unlike Trupanion, PC Pet Insurance does not pay the vey directly, but rather reimburses you several weeks later.
Purinacare Pet Insurance No longer in business I guess the pet food company is also stepping into the pet insurance realm. Seems like everyone and their kitchen sink is, but I digress. Purinecare has three different options: One is just accidental ($2000 per incident) which would cost me $12 a month (with a $100 deductible) for my dog, Preferred Plan ($48 a month- $100 deductible), and Preferred Plan Plus ($67 a month- $150 deductible per year). They pay out 80% of your claim. The preferred plan plus is just the preferred plan plus preventative health. If they are going to charge you $228 per year extra plus the extra $50 per year for the deductible, I think I would much rather pay less and do the preventative health stuff out of my own pocket. It seems cheaper that way.
Protecting a Part of Your Family
Attitudes towards pets have changed a lot over the years, and I think that while it's fair to say that humans have loved their furry friends for thousands of years, today's pet owners are willing to invest time and financial resources into their four-legged family members that hasn't previously been seen. Our Trupanion recommendation vs the very worthy competitors of Petsecure, PetPlan, and PC Pet Insurance comes down to three things:
2) The Vet gets paid directly (no money out of your pocket)
3) Value for your dollars when the average pet is considered
It is certainly possible that you might have other priorities than the ones we listed, and consequently decide to go with another Canadian pet insurance provider that can give you a custom plan. That's ok – we're just making this recommendation based on averages for the greatest number of people.
The real takeaway here is that you want to be prepared both mentally and financially in case tragedy strikes. You don't want to have to be making financially-crippling decisions when a family's beloved pet is on an operating table and you're at a stressful breaking point! Instead, plan ahead and be honest about your financial situation.
What do you think?
Do you buy pet insurance?
Anyone know of any other pet insurance companies that they would recommend for Canadians??