Should I Get Pet Insurance?

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Any fellow animal owners out there will understand that your furry friends are your family! So, caring for their health is a priority. Pet insurance is one way you can look out for your pet and yourself.

Wondering if pet insurance is right for you? Keep reading and find out!

What is pet insurance?

Pet insurance, much like health insurance for people, covers medical expenses for your pet if it is injured or ill. Plans and prices are based on things like the breed, size, and age of your furry companion.

What does pet insurance cover?

While it varies depending on the specific plan you have, pet insurance covers things like:

  • Accidents and injuries (for example, ingestion of foreign objects or injuries sustained from a car accident)
  • Illnesses (for example, digestive issues, cancer, infections, or allergies)
  • Wellness (while less common or typically only for more expensive plans, this may include things like dental care, dietary consultations, heartworm prevention, vaccinations, boarding/ kennel fees, or flea and tick medication)

When looking into what pet insurance coverage might be right for you, pay attention to any limitations like pre-existing conditions, breed-specific conditions, or age limits!

Pet insurance for dogs

Most dogs are pretty active and spend a good portion of time outdoors. This, along with their sometimes unpredictable interests, tend to make them prone to accidents, like swallowing objects or getting hit by cars, and contracting things like fleas and ticks.

Here are some common things covered for dogs:

  • Diagnostic tests
  • Medications
  • Surgeries
  • Prosthetics
  • Arthritis
  • Hip dysplasia
  • Boarding
  • Euthanasia and cremation
  • Ear infections
  • Some hereditary conditions

Pet insurance for cats

When considering an insurance plan for your cat, take note of whether your cat an indoor or outdoor cat. There are definitely lifestyle differences for indoor and outdoor cats that can impact the likelihood of your cat needing certain coverages.

Here are some common things covered for cats:

  • Diagnostic tests
  • Medications
  • Surgeries
  • Some hereditary and congenital conditions
  • Imaging (MRI, CAT scan, ultrasound)
  • Surgery rehabilitation
  • Blood tests
  • Ear infections
  • Skin conditions
  • Renal failure

How much is pet insurance?

The cost of pet insurance is based on the species, breed, and age of your pet, as well as where you are located. Premiums will vary depending on where you live. Usually it costs less for cats than dogs.

On average, pet insurance costs $30/month for cats and $40/month for dogs. Annually, the average cost is around $500.

These prices may vary if you choose a plan that covers wellness or if the plan charges extra for breeds prone to health concerns or senior animals.

How does pet insurance work?

Before signing up, I’d recommend shopping around and getting quotes from different companies. You can usually do this on their websites or by phone.

Signing up is usually very easy for pet insurance and can be done online. Once you select your plan, you must select your primary veterinarian, fill in your billing and payment information, and you’re done!

Making payments

You must pay your pet insurance fee monthly. When you take your pet to the vet, you pay upfront for whatever services you needed, and then submit a claim to your insurance company afterwards to be reimbursed.

If you miss a payment, you risk your plan being cancelled or paying late fees.

Is pet insurance worth it?

I’ll be honest, this is a loaded question. And the answer really varies depending on you, your animal, and your financial situation.

While veterinary costs are definitely not cheap, the likelihood of you needing the extra support pet insurance provides is not a guarantee. You could end up paying more annually for vet fees with pet insurance rather than without.

But before making your decision, consider a few things:

  • Your pet’s breed (some are more likely to suffer from certain conditions)
  • Your pet’s age (older animals need more vet care typically)
  • Do you have plans for dealing with an unexpected vet bill? Could you manage it?

Should you have an animal emergency fund instead?

Before I adopted my cat I set aside $500 as an emergency fund for her. This was outside of the adoption fees and initial purchases made to make my home cat-friendly.

In the 6 months I’ve had her, I’ve had to dip into this fund once for a $50 exam. And even at that, this exam was really just to ease my anxious cat mom brain.

Turns out living in an old apartment with no AC during peak summer heat is gonna make your cat pant. But I wanted to be sure she was okay!

As a part time worker, I was especially glad to have money set aside for this occasion. If I didn’t, I could be losing $50 worth of food to feed myself that month. Personally, I keep my animal emergency fund in a high interest savings account. I deposit a bit of cash every couple months to keep it topped up and growing.

It’s up to you, but having an emergency fund for your pet that you are dedicated to building and maintaining is a great option to be as prepared as possible for trips to the vet.

EQ Bank is a great option for a high interest savings account. They offer a high every day interest rate and no daily banking fees! You can read our EQ Bank review here.

Animal emergency funds vs. pet insurance

In my opinion, these two options for pet protection are similar enough that one or the other is essential.

Personally, I choose to maintain an emergency fund considering my pet is an indoor cat, only one year old, and frankly I don’t want an extra bill to pay every month if I don’t have to!

While unexpected things can happen, I consider my cat’s lifestyle low-risk enough that having an emergency fund is suitable for both her health and my finances.

Just starting to think about pet ownership? Check out my post on Preparing My Finances to Adopt My First Pet for tips on evaluating your finances in the wake of delving into the world of having a pet!

Pet insurance companies in Canada

I’ve taken a look at a few top companies in Canada and what offers of theirs stand out the most!

PC

PC offers pet insurance with 80% coverage, emergency boarding fees if your pet is in the hospital for more than 2 days, and 4 plans starting at $9.95/month for cats and $10.95/month for dogs.

Again, these are starting fees subject to be affected by tax, the specific plan you selected, and the breed and age of your pet. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to access a specific quote for my pet.

Ovma

Ovma, or the Ontario Veterinary Medical Association, offers plans designed by Ontario veterinarians. They offer 3 plans with 80% coverage: Unlimited, Extensive, and Comprehensive.

Accidents, illnesses, and dental are covered by all plans. And the Unlimited plan also offers wellness care. They also promise fast claim payouts regardless of your chosen plan.

Here’s the quote I got from Ovma for my cat after filling out her info (she’s 1 year old, already spayed, and a domestic medium hair, for reference!):

  • Comprehensive plan- $33.06/month with a $200 deductible
  • Extensive plan- $46.02/month with a $200 deductible
  • Unlimited- $75.55/month with a $300 deductible

Trupanion

Trupanion covers 90% eligible veterinary costs, has no payout caps, and offers “One Simple Plan” that is aimed at including all you could really expect to need to have covered. This excludes wellness and preventative care.

For cats Trupanion is $35-60/month with a $500 deductible or $50-75/month with a $200 deductible on average. For dogs, it costs $70-$80/month with a $500 deductible or $100-$120/month with a $200 deductible.

Both of these are average quotes as the cost depends on the breed and age of your pet. For a cat like mine, my quote was on the lower priced end.

Final thoughts on pet insurance

Whether pet insurance is right for you is of course, up to you! I definitely think it’s important to have some sort of financial cushion to support your pet’s health, especially given the high cost of unexpected vet trips.

If you can afford pet insurance and appreciate the peace of mind it gives that an emergency fund does not, it might be a good call to get a quote for your furry friend. Same goes for if you have an over-active pup prone to swallowing things it shouldn’t.

But, if you’re like me and have assessed the need for coverage based on an animal that’s young and stays inside all the time, you might stick with an emergency fund.

I’m glad pet insurance is an option should I ever want to sign up for it, but at this point it’s more affordable for me to maintain an animal emergency fund. And if that’s possible for you as well, I’d definitely avoid monthly fees and instead, keep saving.

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