Pet Insurance | Author: Dr. Cliff Redford, Veterinarian
Insurance is an important form of risk management that most adults purchase to protect themselves from financial loss. If you own a house or drive a car, then insurance is not a choice, but mandatory. Financial planners will always advise their clients to purchase life insurance as a foundation for long-term financial planning. Many individuals receive health insurance that covers dental bills, new glasses and chiropractic visits. But what about pet insurance? You would be in the majority if you don’t have any. In fact, less than 3% of pet owners in North America have some sort of insurance for their pets. Compare this to Europe where the number tops 50%!
Should You Buy Pet Insurance?
The simple answer to whether you should buy pet insurance is yes, absolutely! Why? Because veterinarian services are expensive.
Our furry companions cannot communicate like humans. Consequently, the only means vets have to diagnose problems is with lab tests and radiographs. Even simple procedures like dental cleanings require us to put pets out, and this requires anesthesia and intravenous fluids. None of these come cheaply, and neither will your vet’s time for his or her professional knowledge. That is why every pet owner should at least learn about pet insurance and consider the options before deciding whether it is right for you.
What Type of Pet Insurance Should You Buy?
In a nutshell, with pet insurance, you get what you pay. To keep the premiums as low as possible, we recommend you sign your pet up when it is young and without a history of health problems. Insurers often exclude pre-existing conditions or tack on higher premiums for them. Also, some breeds are predisposed to a much higher rate of disease compared to others. You should expect to pay higher premiums for Bulldogs, SharPeis, most giant dog breeds, purebred cats like Persians, Himalayans and hairless cats.
When shopping for pet insurance, you will generally need to consider three broad categories, and your budget may drive the final decision.
Accident Only Insurance
The cheapest policy will cover accidents only. Here, the insurance company will pay for broken bones, cuts and gashes, and even surgery if your pet swallows something that needs to be removed. Such plans will not cover any treatment that does not arise from an accident. Historically, the bulk of patients that arrive through our clinic doors are not accident victims. They require treatments for ear infections, cancer or heart diseases, vomiting or diarrhea, tooth extractions etc., which would not be covered under an accident-only plan.
Full Coverage Insurance
At the top of the scale, you will find insurance plans that cover accidents, diseases, vaccinations, dental cleanings and even a portion of your pet’s dietary requirements. We sarcastically refer to these as “Cadillac plans” because the associated premiums start at $100 per month and up. Before, you sign up for one of these, come in and see us.
However, most insurance companies offer hybrid plans. These usually cover accidents and illnesses, and a portion (80%-90%) of services like wellness checkups, dental surgery etc. With plans like these, your premiums become reasonable depending on the amount of deductible involved. The insurance provider might also offer you pre-packaged bundles of choices or allow you to build your own plan according to your needs. Regardless, you could end up with too many choices that can overwhelm some people.
Rely On Your Vet
If you have concluded that shopping for pet insurance is a confusing and impossible task, give us a call. Pet owners frequently reach out to us about this matter and we can recommend reputable insurers that we already deal with. We can also review the options, premiums and deductibles to help steer you in the right direction so you don’t purchase unnecessary add-ons that your pet might not require.
Virtually all insurance companies offer a no-commitment one-month trial and we can help you secure this. And in case you wonder, no we do not receive kickbacks for these recommendations. You can safely count on unbiased advice from us. Signing up for a free trial will give you time to make a decision. And, to boot, if something happens to your pet during those 30 days, he/ she will likely be covered if you follow our recommendations for tests and treatments.
Pros and Cons of Pet Insurance
Honestly, the only con we can think of related to pet insurance is the matter of monthly premiums that can range from $30 – $100 per month. You will likely find a practical plan that will cover most of your needs somewhere in-between. If this does not cause you undue hardship, then the pros far outweigh the cons
Pet owners are an extremely loving bunch who want nothing but the best for their pets. Those with means may not need to worry about purchasing insurance. But what about the rest of us? Denying pets treatment for a painful condition because of nothing but your finances is a gut-wrenching and extremely difficult decision for anyone to make. Pet insurance is one way to hedge your bets against this risk. Having your pet covered by a good plan will allow you to keep them healthy, costs will rarely be a factor and the insurer will reimburse you well before your credit card bills become due.
Deciding upon the plan that is right for you is the hardest part of this process and we can help you with this.
ABOUT DR. CLIFF
Dr. Cliff Redford, DVM, is an experienced veterinarian and owner/operator of the Wellington Veterinary Hospital in Markham Ontario. Fondly known as Dr. Cliff to his clients, he has tended to the wellness of pets and animals for over two decades. Hands-on experience in his clinic, combined with animal advocacy and rescue missions locally and across the globe, has allowed him to curate a vast body of knowledge on animal health and welfare, including preventative counselling, soft tissue surgery, advanced dental procedures, internal medicine and emergency care.