Updated: Sep 14, 2019
Picture this; a man walks into a vet clinic, holding a small dog. The dog is in obvious distress and has been for a few days. The dog is seen by the vet and staff. Options are discussed but alas the owner does not have enough funds to even cover the basic testing needed to find out the source of the dogs distress. The vet clinic generously offers to absorb the cost of testing and if they can pinpoint the issue to assist in its care. They do discuss with the owner that if it is a lifelong condition that it may be best to re home the poor dog as he will not be able to afford the care. The owner is in a horrible situation.
I would not wish that situation on anyone. I have been fortunate enough in my dog’s lives to be able to afford care. However I offset my care costs by investing in pet insurance. I never want to be in a position of deciding the level of care because of the condition of my bank account. Pet insurance is an affordable option and covers a wide variety of conditions and injuries.
I have heard many positive stories and a few not so positive stories around pet insurance. I myself have only ever had excellent service and coverage. Our Casey has osteoarthritis and needs monthly massages and chiro treatment to manage her condition. As such we access her insurance on a monthly basis. Her insurance covers 90% of the cost. So after all is said and done I’m only out of pocket $7. I’d say that was good value!
Our GSD Jet has allergies. He has environmental, food and is actually allergic to himself! The 1st year we dealt with his allergies he racked up over $6000 in vet bills. Our insurance saved us from credit card debt (or worse having to make a decision to give him up). To date his payout from Trupanion is $12,000, he's only 4 years old.... If we didn't have insurance we would have to set aside over $600 a month to cover his care. That's just not feasible for most people long term.
A case can be made to start a savings account for your dog and just deposit what you would be spending on insurance into a bank account. That may work for some but there are flaws with that thought process. If your 6 month old puppy ingests a toxin and needs 24 hr. care for several days you’re looking at $1200 and up. 4-6 months of deposits is not going to cover that but pet insurance would. Yes you would still have to pay a deductible but most insurance companies have a sliding scale for deductibles that give you the option to set your own when you sign up. Conversely your dog may be an angel and never need vet care beyond its yearly exam until it’s the ripe old age of 10. Or you may be terrible with money and know that it’s far better for you to pay a monthly insurance premium rather than set aside money monthly that could be robbed to pay for other emergencies.
Pet insurance premiums are set based on your dog’s age and breed. Some breeds that are prone to extra vet care will cost more to insure but if you have one of those breeds you likely knew that going in. The earlier you register for pet insurance the cheaper the premium. Most vet clinics will give you a form for a free 30 day trial with one of the major insurance companies when you bring your new addition in for their 1st appointment. You can also add complimentary care riders to your policy to cover things beyond the norm such as Physiotherapy and hydrotherapy. Essential if your dog has to have TPLO surgery. They can often be added on after your dog is diagnosed.
There are several different styles of pet insurance available. I use the “oh crap” style of insurance. That means I am responsible for all regular maintenance and preventative care such as annual exams, vaccines and spay or neuter. Where the insurance steps in is if one of my dogs gets injured or ill. The time Maddy ended up in 24 hr. care or Casey developed a limp. That’s the sort of thing that gets covered. It even covers bone marrow transplants!
Other people have a more all-inclusive coverage. One of my dog walking clients dogs even got a root canal through their insurance!
Below is a list of Pet insurance companies. You can create a free quote online for your dog.
http://trupanion.com/canada (Full disclosure this is the one I personally use and have never had an issue) http://www.petsecure.com/pet-insurance http://www.gopetplan.com https://www.petinsurance.com/
A good place to look for comparisons will actually be at your vet clinic. Often there is one staff member who deals with all the insurance claims. They can be a wealth of information in regards to which plan is easiest to deal with, which ones have too many exclusions etc.
Don’t make your heart break over choosing the level of care available to your dog based on your available funds. There are so many different options available, you are sure to find one that works for you. Think of it as piece of mind for your best friend.