Let’s talk about pet insurance! It’s a minefield out there. After spending hours of research, comparing plans, reading the fine print and reading dozens of reviews, here are my notes.
There are two ways to hedge against any potential emergencies in the future:
You can get insurance;
You can set aside a sum into a savings account.
Only you can decide what makes the most financial sense for you. It is also important to remember that you’re not trying to “make” money on this investment. You’re investing for peace of mind in the worst-case scenario.
I started comparing plans, but then when you dig deeper into the reviews, you really see the insurance companies “true colors”. I went from comparing plans to comparing who is less likely to screw me over. I was going to do a pro/con, comparison chart, type of analysis, but you can easily find all the “pros” of the plans through the copy on their websites. It is also incredibly hard to find insurance when there are so many unknown factors as a first time dog owner. I feel like vet expenses is this big black pit where you throw your whole bank account into in emergencies, but the actual number is unknown. If I could think of a way, I would model out all the factors in a nice little spreadsheet, but there is no point because I don’t have enough data…
My pet insurance plan check-list:
- 80-90% coverage
- $200 deductible
- Out of country coverage for US (incase, I need to go to a vet whilst state-side)
- Ability to change coverage – this is something you really need to speak with a representative to find out about
- No per illness caps
How to pick an insurance company:
- Compare benefits and get a sense of the type of plans available. I have a few different models outlined below to give you a sense of coverage.
- Read the fine print!
- Read consumer reviews.
Watch Out #1: Pre-existing conditions
Basically, if you’re getting insurance for your puppy, great! If you’re insuring an older dog, pet insurance companies are going to make many excuses to not reimburse you. You want detailed, full, medical reports to cover your ass. I’ve read reviews from people with the companies twisting vet’s words and piling things under “pre-existing” condition.
Watch Out #2: Increasing premiums
This is really important to look into because if you decide to switch companies later, many of your pet’s “conditions” will be considered “pre-existing” conditions by the new company. You have to do a little digging and ask questions: Do they increase if you make a lot of claims? Do they increase depending on your pet’s age? Do they increase the premiums for all customers annually?
Watch Out #3: Per-incident caps or per illness caps
I decided to stay away from any company with these impositions. For example, if my dog gets into an accident or gets ill, and then after the first vet visit, it gets worse and I need to go back over, I don’t want a cap of $2500. I don’t see how conditions like these are better than the alternative of putting $2500 away in the bank. These conditions do not give me the peace of mind I’m trying to purchase!
5 Pet Insurance Companies Compared – Canada only
These five companies were the ones I could find the most information on. I have linked each one to a sample policy. They all offer different benefits and different models for providing insurance. Here are some of my notes about each one and things you should watch out for. All the quotes are based on a goldendoodle puppy less than 1 year old.
They say they don’t increase premiums based on pet age or the number of claims you make. However, they increase premiums for all customers annually, and usually at a rate in the double digits. What you see, is not what you get. Alternative therapy and the “extra” stuff (travel cancellation, lost pets, boarding fees if the human is hospitalized, 3rd party property damage etc.) are add-ons and not included.
Most popular plan: $54.27
Cost over 12 years: $7814.88
Unlimited coverage, 90% reimbursement, $200 deductible
It is supposed to be affordable, but if anything really bad were to happen, affordable it is not. They have a $2500 cap per incident, and $2500 per illness per year. From what I’ve heard about vet costs, is that $2000 is a lot, but definitely on the lower end of emergency procedures. With an increasing deductible that’s based on your pets age and a 20/80 co-pay system, you pay less on a per month basis, but I have doubts that it would be sufficient should your dog require surgery.
Most popular plan: $51.69
Cost over 12 years: $7443.36
$2500/ incident, $2500/illness per year, $100 deductible (increased by age of pet), 80% reimbursement
I really don’t understand why their premiums are so much more than other companies (see spreadsheet for price comparison) … And after going through the fine print I can’t find twice the value in their plan compared to one that costs half as much.
Most popular plan: $82.23
Cost over 12 years: $11 985.12
$7500 limit/year, $200 deductible, 80% reimbursement
I like that this one allows you to customize your plan. Additionally, as a plus, is that their customer service people respond to poor reviews online. I also like that they reimburse you for exam fees for non-routine incidents.
Most popular plan: $36.94
Cost over 12 years: $5319.36
15K limit/ year, $250 deductible, 80% reimbursement
Cool that they offer $300 in dental/year to cover even routine teeth checkups. However, they have the per condition/per illness caps I’m trying to avoid.
Most popular plan: $53.82
Cost over 12 years: $7750.08
$2500/accident, $2500/illness per year, $300 deductible
Additional resources to help you:
If you want to get an idea about the types of plans out there Policy Genius is a user friendly site that helps you compare. Unfortunately, they only feature American plans.
Do any of you have pet insurance or wish you did? Tell me the good, the bad, and the downright ugly!