Should you shell out for pet insurance?
Saturday, Aug. 16, 2014
When it comes to money decisions, it can be hard to figure out the right thing to do. Money is about power, emotion, morality, and security, among other things. So in this space, we gather experts to weigh in on a financial quandary.
This week’s question: Should you get pet insurance?
Jeanette Brox, senior financial consultant for Investors Group: “People need to think long-term when it comes to pet care. When animals are young, there is not a lot of money spent on medical costs, but as the pet ages, expensive health issues can occur. Also, there are the unforeseen accidents that can occur that add up to expensive vet bills. Many people underestimate exactly how much these medical costs can set them back. Insure your animals when they are young and their health is still good; don’t delay. It’s like trying to get house insurance when your house is on fire. Monthly premiums can range from $35 from $80. The deductibles and limits will vary per plan. The protection is broken down by coverage for accidents and illness. Just like medical benefits we have, if there are pre-existing conditions, these conditions will not be covered. Your vet will have information available on the various companies that cover pets and can help you chose the best plan for your needs.”
Victoria Shroff, a Vancouver civil litigator who specializes in animal law: “The insurance company is going to give you an umbrella when it’s sunny and take it away when it’s raining. People sign up for pet insurance, they’re paying into a policy and thinking, ‘This is amazing. When my dog or my cat gets sick, I’m not going to be stuck paying a huge vet bill for thousands of dollars. Owners are often caught off guard when they put in a claim and find out that their claim will not be covered. What happened in one instance was a lady
managed to get coverage for her German Shepherd’s hip dysplasia despite the fact that a lot of policies don’t cover [genetic conditions]. When hip number two needed to be replaced, the claim was denied and the claimant was told that she had maxed out her policy. That’s the most dangerous aspect of this, people think they’re 100% covered for their vet bills and they often find themselves out of luck or they have to pay a very high deductible. Before you get your new pet, make sure you are economically solvent to be able to take on a pet, including paying for its medical needs. Put aside money for your own pet insurance fund. You could take $50 every month per pet and put it in a designated savings account marked Fluffy or Fido.”
Dr. Lynn Webster, veterinarian and member of the Petsecure Veterinary Advisory Board: Pet health insurance is a wise purchase for pet owners looking to cover the costs of pet health care that has become more and more sophisticated in striving to meet the demands of today’s pet parents. The breadth and depth of today’s pet health services mirrors that of our human health care system. This results in costs that can be out of reach for many pet owners. Pet insurance is meant to bridge this gap, affording the pet the best available medical care and giving their owners piece of mind. When selecting pet insurance, pet owners should look for a policy that covers examination, consultation fees and sales taxes. Pet owners can also look for a policy that covers dental care, preventative care, and special coverage or alternative treatments including acupuncture, massage, behavioural therapy and medical devices. It is important to insure your pet as early in life as possible to avoid the exclusion of existing conditions. You want the coverage for unforeseen events and to cover the cost of health care in a pets later years when the majority of a pets health care expenses occur.