Pet insurance provides peace of mind when it comes to unexpected (and heckin’ costly) vet expenses. When we had our first dog, sweet Harley Brown, we didn’t know anything about pet insurance – in fact, we don’t remember anyone having it or talking about it at all. Luckily, we dodged a bullet with Harley – he was healthy and fit almost until the end but this time around with Ditto – we decided to do some research.
We lost Harley, (a German Shorthaired Pointer) to Degenerative Myelopathy (DM) at just over 14-years-old. Ditto is half GSP and half Boxer (who come with their own set of inherent health issues). Luckily, our daughter is a Registered Vet Tech who works in animal emergency and strongly urged us to consider pet insurance this time ‘round.
Her daily reality is 12 hours a day of pets in distress and families faced with daunting choices. No matter how much you love your pet, if you can’t afford care, sometimes euthanasia seems the only choice – a horrible situation for everyone involved. We believe it’s our responsibility to keep Ditto safe, but accidents do (and will) happen.
A quick search online reveals so many options it gets overwhelming quickly until you make a few informed choices on coverage options.
So, how to choose? Well.…what do you really need?
Think about your pet’s age, activity level, potential breed specific illnesses and your lifestyle. We live on the west coast of Canada and are frequently out in deep nature where things like wildlife encounters, garbage eating, stepping on nails from burnt pallets (grrr) and other dangers are likely to happen. We carry a pet first-aid kit when we adventure, but sometimes, you’re going to need a little extra help, and unless you have more disposable income than Jeff Bezos, chances are you’re going to be in for some sticker shock.
Not all pet insurance plans are created equal.
Comprehensive plans cover accidents, illnesses, and even some routine care. Providers like Petsecure, Trupanion, FetchPet and Pets Plus Us may have higher premiums but offer the most coverage. There are also Accident-only plans which can be less expensive than comprehensive plans, but only cover accidents – not illnesses or routine care.
But wait, there’s more… Wellness Plans.
Wellness plans cover routine care like vaccinations, flea and tick prevention, and dental cleanings. Most of the big providers allow you to answer a questionnaire about your pet, describe what you’re looking for – and are happy to work with you to get the best coverage for your circumstances.
Live and learn.
Some plans have lengthy waiting periods before coverage begins, and if your pet gets sick or hurt during that time, the condition may not be covered – this happened to us when Ditto was a pup, he’d been to the vet for a herniated belly button and, as it was documented in his file already, providers won’t cover it should he ever require surgery to correct it. Read the fine print and understand your options for coverage limits, deductibles, and exclusions.
Premiums can vary widely – for instance, when we put Ditto into the online questionnaire as a Pointer mix, his premiums were almost half of that of a Boxer mix due to Boxers having more known health issues.
Finally, consider the customer service and reputation of the insurance company. Look for reviews from other pet owners, ask around at the dog park and check the company’s rating with organizations like the Better Business Bureau. We ended up with Pets Plus Us, with a premium and coverage we are content with for Fawn & Moose (and Frank).
Overall, pet insurance should provide you with peace of mind. With a bit of research, comparison shopping, and understanding the coverage limits, deductibles, and reimbursement process, you can choose the best plan for your best friend.
Reach out – we’re here and happy to help.