The first pet insurance policy ever written, in 1890, focused solely on horses and livestock. The first ever policy issued in the United States, in 1982, was necessitated by the growing popularity of the canine star of the television series Lassie. Since then, the number of pet owners, both in Canada and the United States, as well as the individual number in variety of species has grown tremendously in North America. In the U.S., vet care and medicine cover a substantial part of the overall pet market sales.
As an example, cost of coverage for an 11 year old dog in New York under Embrace Insurance amounted to an annual cost of 10,260 U.S. dollars per owner in 2016. In 2017, the average accident and sickness insurance premiums for dogs were estimated to be 535.95 U.S. dollars per owner in the U.S. and 703.76 Canadian dollars per owner in Canada. Pet insurance plans in North America may also cover preventative care such as vaccinations or elective procedures like neutering. Some companies in both Canada and the United States also offer the option of routine-care (or comprehensive) coverage. Other coverage options include: dental care, alternative treatment as well as the purchase of prescription drugs.