In Canada, there are currently four companies offering comprehensive pet insurance: Petsecure, 24PetWatch, Trupanion (formerly Vetinsurance), and Pets Plus Us. In addition, the Canadian Automobile Association, HBC, President’s Choice Financial, and Purina offer Petsecure insurance under their own branding.

Pet insurance provides coverage for accidents and illnesses among dogs and cats of all ages and breeds. Some policies also provide coverage for routine health care, such as vaccinations, dental care and parasite control.

How much you can expect to pay for monthly premiums for your pet depends on how comprehensive the coverage you need. Insurance premiums also can vary based on the level of co-insurance provided. For example, a company may require the owner to pay 20 percent of veterinary fees, while the insurance will cover the remaining 80 percent.

All companies provide free insurance for a month, and we strongly recommend taking advantage of this offer while you decide whether to use pet insurance long term.

Generally speaking, insurance is of great value in the first year or two of a dog or cat’s life, when they are most likely to have accidents or ingest things they are not supposed to. In addition, a pet with genetic susceptibilities to bone-development problems such as hip dysplasia or to allergies or congenital problems may have life-long health issues for which insurance can be of great benefit. While not immune to health problems, middle-aged pets will likely need less insurance, but there is increased need for veterinary care with advancing age. Having insurance in place before problems such as cancer, heart disease or arthritis develop can provide peace of mind for both short- and long-term care.