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What Percentage of Canadians Have Pet Insurance?

women on couch with her three dogs, with her arms around two of her dogs

While North America was a little late to the party when it comes to pet insurance, it has had a growing pet insurance sector for over 35 years. The concept of pet insurance was first introduced in 1890 in Europe, but it wasn't until 1982 that a policy was bought for America's most famous pet, Lassie. In Canada, the concept of pet insurance has been around since the mid-1980s. Since then, it's steadily gained momentum, and provided medical protection for millions of cats and dogs.

It is estimated that around 3% of Canadian households with pets have some form of pet insurance coverage, according to the Insurance Institute of Canada. Interestingly, this number edges closer to 10% in provinces like Quebec, Manitoba, and Saskatchewan. 

Pet insurance policies are typically priced on certain factors. The level of insurance coverage is really important and varies significantly from one provider to another - but some details about your specific pet are really important too.

These include your pet's age, species, breed, postal code / location, and any pre-existing medical conditions (although this depends on coverage specifics). Find out more about how to choose a great pet insurance policy in Canada here.

Pet's age

Pet insurance tends to be more expensive for older pets and this, unfortunately, can be a factor impacting the purchase of a policy. As our pets age their medical needs typically increase too. It is important to note that pet insurance provides significant benefits and peace of mind as our pets become older. By opting for pet insurance, Canadians can ensure their furry companions receive the best care possible with less risk of sudden unforeseen veterinary costs - whatever their age.

Pro Tip: Whether your pet is young or old, pet insurance can help give you peace of mind when an unexpected accident or illness occurs. As more serious health conditions tend to occur in senior pets, pet insurance can help with the financial barrier of getting your pet the care they need. PHI Direct’s policy is designed to remain affordable across a pet’s entire life meaning pet insurance can be sustained more readily. 


The breed plays a crucial role when deciding whether to purchase pet insurance. Insurance companies will likely charge higher premiums for certain breeds more susceptible to health problems and illnesses. For instance, Siberian Huskies are predisposed to autoimmune disorders, while English Bulldogs are known to develop breathing problems even when young. For this reason, if you know your breed is at high risk of developing certain conditions, you should enroll in pet insurance while your pet is young and healthy which will mitigate your risks later down the road. 


Where your pet lives is a significant factor in determining the cost of veterinary services - and therefore the cost of their pet insurance. For example (and this is not accurate in all cases), but cities tend to be more costly for veterinary services than more rural areas. PHI Direct's prices are determined from actual claims data across thousands of pets all across Canada. 

Pre-existing medical conditions

Put simply, a pre-existing condition is any injury or illness that your pet shows symptoms of before insurance coverage begins. It’s important to note, that you don't need to know the name of the condition or have it diagnosed for it to be considered pre-existing. Pre-existing conditions are not usually covered by pet insurance providers, but pet insurance would provide coverage for any new conditions a pet may experience in its lifetime.

Pet Ownership Costs in Connection to Pet Insurance

The average cost of owning a pet in Canada ranges from $2,000 for cats to more like $4,000 for dogs and due to significant inflationary pressure these figures are rising each year. These amounts includes food, veterinary care, and other pet-related necessities. Meanwhile, the average cost of an emergency vet visit without insurance coverage will be from $800 to $5,000 but can easily go up to over $10,000 in the most serious veterinary situations. 

Pet insurance exists to help with these costs. While it's true that premiums are a monthly outgoing, taking on an affordable policy will help protect you from unexpected medical bills - and potentially really large ones. Thousands of Canadian pet owners each year are faced with heartbreaking decisions around large unexpected vet bills and how to best protect their furry loved-one. 

Pet insurance can be a saving grace in many cases, but it is important to read the policy of any pet insurance policy you are considering so you are aware of what is covered and what is not. 

family with their dog at pet store

Pet Insurance Has Come A Long Way

The last decade has seen changes in pet insurance, driven by the ongoing trend of pet humanization and a dramatic surge in telehealth options. 

Telehealth has revolutionized the pet industry by allowing pet owners to consult with veterinarians from the comfort of their homes, reducing the need for time-consuming and potentially stressful visits to the vet's office. This is especially beneficial for pets with chronic conditions that require regular monitoring but not necessarily physical examinations.

PHI Direct's provides telehealth to all members (so veterinary advice is available to assist 24/7), and this can help pet owners significantly when they have questions or concerns. 

Last Thoughts 

Given the increasing costs of pet care and the deepening bond between pets and their owners, we can expect to see a rise in the adoption of pet insurance in Canada in the coming years. As pet insurance companies continue to evolve their services and coverage, providing more flexible, comprehensive, and customer-centric options, the prospect of securing our pets' health becomes even more worthwhile.