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The why’s and wherefore’s of pet insurance

In pet ownership there are three principle expenses; everyday cost, maintenance and emergencies. Most people have the everyday costs taken care of, and the majority of the people even have budgeted in the maintenance but very very few understand the true financial implication of the emergencies.

I saw a client recently who very responsibly sets aside a portion of her paycheque for her dog adding up to 1000$ per year. Her dog recently had to go to the emergency hospital and when she came out after emergency surgery and a mere week in hospital, her dog having ingested enough clumping cat litter to very nearly kill him, she had paid almost 7000$. Her responsible slush fund wasn’t even a drop in the bucket at this point.

So what is going on here? Two things; firstly, societies views on pet ownership have changed considerably. Fido is no longer a dog tied out in the back yard, and Fluffy, more often than not is an indoor cat that sleeps not only on the bed but under the covers. Our animals have become fur children rather than the disposable working commodity they once were (let me say for the record this is awesome). This means that they are living longer, healthier lives but also we are more willing to consider medical intervention should the need arise. Secondly, animal medicine has made the same leaps and bounds in the past 40 years that we have seen in human medicine. Due to medical advances there is now a possibility of realistically saving many more animals. Gone are the days when most veterinary care involved shots, casting broken legs and using a gun. The overall result is that should the need arise there is the medicine as well as the drive to help an injured animal.

So, what I say to my clients is this. What kind of pet owner are you? Are you the kind of pet owner who wants a cat or wants THIS cat. These are two very different questions, but very important. If a client says they want this cat, I recommend insurance. When push comes to shove, these owners don’t want to have to make choices based on finances and insurance allows them to make the best medical choice for their animal.

There are a couple other factors to think about as well. What breed is your pet. Some breeds are predisposed to certain ailments; like back problems in daschund and bladder stones in poodles and schnauzers. These guys should not only be insured but insured with a company that isn’t going to exclude breed related illness. Also the animal’s age, young animals are more likely to get into trouble, break legs, run away and get hit by cars and eat anything and everything. Older animals are more likely to get common diseases like kidney failure or glandular issues. Many companies won’t cover older animals so the key is insuring young and locking your premiums in at the low rate.

The trouble here is to make sure you aren’t tempted to cancel midlife when everything is coming up roses. Think of it this way. A simple break in the front leg of a dog – 2387.10$ later your dog is fixed. That is 15 years of paying 13 dollars a month for insurance premiums to cover emergencies. Your cat can’t pee – 1500$ that’s 9 and half years of paying.

When picking a company to ensure with I recommend asking them and understanding some fundamental questions I’ve included here as well as asking your Vet which companies they recommend. Some companies have a better reputation than others and your vet will know where to guide you for good, fair, reliable service. As with all things in veterinary medicine, the key is finding what works best for you and your pet as well as education and proactive approach.

Important questions to ask when considering pet insurance:

  • What kinds of illnesses are covered under this plan?
  • Does it cover emergency as well as routine illness?
  • What array of plans do you offer – everything to emergency only?
  • What is the co-insurance portion (that portion the client pays per incident)?
  • What is the deductable and is it per visit or annual?
  • How do I make a claim? Do I need to pay the veterinary bill first, before I can make a claim?
  • Is there a maximum payout per claim? Per year? Per household? Per policy?
  • Are dental issues covered?

If you have any other questions regarding pet insurance, feel free to reach out and contact us!

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