What To Know About Pet Insurance: A Quick Guide

Talking about pet health insurance is probably not one of the first things you think about when you start out with a new pet.

And yet, when you think about it just a little bit more, you can see all the benefits it can offer.

So we will make a tour of the points to look at, the good and less good sides too. Know that there are many companies that offer this service now (see reference) and that there is no bad product but possibly some that suit you better than others. After reading this, you will be able to evaluate if this tool is interesting or not for you and your pet.

To begin, did you know that in 2020, there were 3.45 million insured animals in North America (1)? This represents a 23.4% increase in this market over the last five years, which is still quite significant.

However, the total number of insured cats and dogs in Canada and the United States still does not reach 5%. Other countries (often in Europe) are much more advanced at this level.  

So what is health insurance? It is simply a way to pay for your veterinary expenses mainly. Most insurances cover 80% of the costs when there is a new disease, a serious problem, hospitalization, or surgery. Think about it: a 1000$ bill, you pay 200$ and the remaining 800$ is reimbursed by the insurance. Isn’t that great?

You may have noticed that I wrote down ‘new’ disease. Indeed, like our own insurance, there could be exclusions if you start the insurance when your pet is older and has already had various health problems. This illustrates the value of purchasing insurance when your pet is relatively young and has no history. It is rarely the right time to start at age 12 or older, due to possible exclusions. 

Of course, there will be a monthly fee to keep your insurance valid. This is normal.

This is where you can also stop and say to yourself: but Dr. Franck, if I open my own account for my pet and I deposit the same amount that I would have already paid for the insurance, it could be interesting, right?  And yes, it could be interesting! Because this money that you deposit for your pet will remain yours, and if your pet doesn’t get sick often, then you will be able to recover at least a part of it eventually. You can easily imagine that sometimes everything is fine and that there is nothing problematic happening to his health.

Then sometimes, unfortunately, it is quite different, despite all your goodwill.

In the end, it takes a certain amount of discipline to take this ‘deposit in your own poodle account’ route, as it may be tempting to use that money for other contingencies in your life. Would you have the will to resist it?

One aspect to consider when choosing insurance is that sometimes there are maximum amounts per year (or lifetime). In the case of certain serious and chronic illnesses or complex surgery, these maximums will be quickly reached.

In short, before committing yourself to a contract, take the time to read it to be sure that it suits you. 

So if we summarize a little, the advantages of taking health insurance are:

  • Allows you to pay for a good part of the unexpected medical care
  • Allows you to focus on the quality of that care rather than just the cost
  • Gives you peace of mind

However, insurance can sometimes be more expensive if your pet doesn’t get sick because you will have paid all that time for ‘nothing’. Also, it doesn’t encourage you to make your own savings, which is interesting for the more disciplined among you.


In the end, I think that the most important thing to remember is that it is essential for a pet owner to think about his budget.

If you have a good budget from the start and there is a large veterinary expense, you probably don’t have to worry about all this.

If, on the other hand, you couldn’t afford to pay a few thousand dollars at once, you need to think about what you’ll do if disaster strikes. If you have at least thought about it, you will certainly be more at peace 🙂

Pet insurance companies

Further Readings

Source 1: North American Pet Health Insurance NAPHIA – About the Industry – State of the Industry Report 2021