Pet Insurance: Do you need it?

Know what you’re buying and if it’s worth it over the long haul.



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Canadians spend about $4 billion on their pets every year. Yes, $4 billion! While some of that money goes to needs like food, some is just plain old pet-indulgence. (Do you think your dog really knows what you paid for that cute little jacket?) One area where costs have been growing consistently is medical care. Pet insurance would seem like a no-brainer, right?

The problem with pet insurance is in the petite-print. On top of deductibles and co-pays, unreimbursed costs, and exclusions—all of which you pay out-of-pocket—you also pay premiums. Seemingly small $11 to $50 per-month premiums can add up to $2,000 to $6,000 or more over a pet’s lifetime.

Here are seven things you’ll want to ask about as you sift through the options:

1. Enrollment period: Some plans cover critters from 8 weeks-old to death; others cut off coverage at 8 years or so, just when you’re most likely to need coverage.

2. Wait period: There’s is often a wait period of up to 21 days from the time you fill out the application until the plan goes into effect. Some plans also require a vet checkup before the plan is activated.

3. Benefit limit: What’s the maximum the plan will pay out each year or over the life of the plan?

4. Deductible: How much you must pay from your own pocket for each claim? Some plans let you choose a deductible while other plans increase the deductible as your pet ages.

5. Coverage for pre-existing conditions: Some plans will cover if the condition has been completely cured; other plans consider genetic conditions to be pre-existing. For example, Doberman Pinschers tend to suffer from Wobbler’s Disease and cardiomyopathy so those might not be covered for your Dobi.

6. Coverage for preventative care: Does your plan take care of your vet visits? Does your plan require at least an annual vet visit to keep the plan in effect?

7. Monthly cost: Costs vary tremendously depending on the type of plan you sign up for, with monthly premiums running anywhere from $10 to $100.

Basic pet plans cover the costs of accidents (like being hit by a car) and some common illnesses like eye and ear infections. Top of the line coverage may cover routine preventive care (such as vaccinations and neuters/spays) and even alternative therapies like acupuncture and hydrotherapy. Some even cover the costs of cremation or burial of a pet, and include extra coverage upon accidental death. Know what you’re buying and figure out if it’s worth the cost over the long haul, or would be better off just sticking the premiums in the bank as a pet emergency fund.

6 comments on “Pet Insurance: Do you need it?

  1. Also, prices go up FAST if you're not insuring a puppy, as I found out after adopting a 2 yr old.

    I chose to self insure – I increased my emergency fund by $2000. Worst case scenario, if something expensive in the house fails at the same time the dog needs x-rays, I'll be ok.


  2. I have been bouncing with having pet insurance for my pets I always make sure there is enough for a vet visit if needed, but I am getting pinched in the budget trying to handle the cost of the pet insurance premium I am starting to think I don't need the insurance I just need a pet medical account for them and put in $50 a week for their medical care.


  3. Some insurers offer a discount on your premium if your pet is micro-chipped. Be sure to ask when you ring for a quote. Your vet will be able to provide details on how to get your pet micro-chipped.


  4. People spent a lot on pets like foods, medicines, accessories etc. But the important point is insurance that many people ignore. But before taking any insurance plans it is good to know and have information about insurance policies so that you don't have to pay out of pocket premiums. This post will be useful to know about these points.


  5. So true.. but as they said, "people buy with emotions and justify with logic".. especially for a pets addict like me!


  6. Some insurers offer a discount on your premium if your pet is micro-chipped. Be sure to ask when you ring for a quote


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