Pet insurers processed a record 1.03 million claims last year, according to industry figures.
The total included 764,000 claims for dogs and 225,000 claims for cats.
The increase reflects the ability of veterinary practices to reopen to non-emergency situations following pandemic closures, as well as people getting new pets during the closures, the Association of British Insurers said ( ABI).
Some £872million in claims were dealt with in 2021, jumping 9.2% on the previous year, according to the ABI.
The previous record for pet insurance claims was in 2017, when 1.02 million claims were made.
The average value of a claim last year was £848, up from £817 in 2020.
The ABI said some recent examples include £726 for treating a cat’s respiratory condition, while treating a tortoise for a digestive disorder can cost upwards of £560.
Surgery for a cat’s broken tibia costs almost £2,000, while treating a dog with epilepsy can cost over £3,300, and treating a dog with diabetes can cost over £1,200.
The ABI data also revealed that in 2021, the number of people taking out pet insurance increased by 4.5% to 3.7 million, the highest number since 2017.
Jonathan Purvis, Policy Adviser, General Insurance at ABI, said: “Whether they are curious cats, playful puppies or even a shy tortoise, our pets are part of the family.
“They might offer us a lot of happiness, but there’s no doubt that they can keep us on our toes with their adventurous ways.
“With no NHS for pets, insurers are there to protect you and your furry friend in the event of an accident or illness.
“As the cost of living crisis begins to bite, insurance can give you peace of mind that if your pet needs medical attention, the costs won’t leave you sick as a parrot.”