Is pet insurance worth the money?
Published Thursday, June 23, 2016 3:10PM PDT Last Updated Thursday, June 23, 2016 3:19PM PDT
Pet insurance can be expensive, but some experts and pet owners say it can potentially save you money in the long run.
Policies require owners to pay for co-payments and deductibles, and there are certain limits on pre-existing health conditions. But despite the cost, if a pet falls ill or gets injured, having the coverage could save owners money.
Vancouver pet owner Jill Arcand purchased insurance for her smooth fox terrier, Kona. In three years, Kona has had an eye infection, parasites, a broken toe and a blown out knee. Even after taking the total amount of her premium payments into account, she estimates she’s saved about $4,000 in veterinary costs because of her insurance.
"I wanted to focus on him, not on the cost,” said Arcand.
She pays about $1,200 a year in premiums to Trupanion, which in turn pays 90 per cent of covered claims with no annual limits.
Veterinarian Dr. Bill Ignacio from the Granville Island Veterinary Hospital recommends pet insurance to his clients and also has a policy for his own dog.
“I’m not a cardiologist. I’m not a surgery specialist. I’m not an internal medicine specialist. If my dog needs something that my skill set can’t provide then I have that in place,” he said.
Premiums can be as low as $25 per month, but the policies may come with restrictions. Dogs usually cost more than cats to insure, and many plans don’t cover office visits or vaccinations. But insurance plans usually cover illness and accidents.
“We’re looking at things that cost significantly more than would be at a general practitioner’s office,” said Ignacio.
Some dog breeds are more prone to certain illnesses that can be excluded from coverage, and purebreds can also cost more to insure. Some insurance companies have an annual limit on claims, and co-payments can also vary.
Owners should keep in mind that pet insurance for older animals can be more expensive, and the coverage could be less comprehensive.
Depending on the insurance company, pet owners may need to submit medical records and paperwork to get a claim paid while other companies will deal directly with the veterinarian.
When buying a policy, pet owners should keep in mind that they may end up paying more in premiums than what’s paid out. But for those with accident prone or ill pets, it could potentially pay off.
“It’s always a really good feeling when we have insurance available and we don’t have to let the financial aspect be as big a part of the health care decisions we make,” said Ignacio.
If paying for insurance premiums isn’t appealing, another option for owners can be to make regular contributions to a savings account reserved for pet emergencies.