Pet insurance is a widespread consideration among dog and cat owners and is designed to protect owners if any emergency costs arise with their pets. But let us not forget that all insurance companies are a business. They are designed to make money. In North America alone, the pet insurance industry is worth more than $4.4 billion. So we have to ask ourselves, is pet insurance really worth it? Or is it all just a big business?
What is pet insurance, and what does it cover?
Pet insurance is a way to protect pet owners against emergency or unexpected vet bills. But what your insurance covers will differ from plan to plan and company to company. In general, there are three different types of pet insurance to choose from:
- Accident-only plans cover accidental injuries or emergencies. For example, they will cover costs if your dog is hit by a car or accidentally swallows poison.
- Accident and Illness Plans cover accidental injuries or emergencies but also cover any illnesses that may arise. Illnesses covered can differ from plan to plan, but this type of plan generally covers costs of fees associated with cancers, allergies, digestion, and so on.
- Embedded Wellness Plans are the most comprehensive types of pet insurance and cover all of the above and routine wellness care. These plans cost more but cover the costs of things like vaccinations, consultations, medications, and dental care.
You can also purchase add-ons that cover behavioural or alternative therapies like chiropractic care or acupuncture in many cases.
How does Pet Insurance Work?
Like most types of insurance, the policies will differ from plan to plan. Many insurance companies provide dozens of different policy options which offer various deductibles, premiums, payout limits, and payment plans.
The exact amount of vet bills covered by your insurance will depend on the rules set out in your policy. Always be sure to read your policy carefully to understand precisely what your plan does and does not cover and how much you will have to pay out of pocket.
While not true for all insurance companies, many also require you to pay the veterinarian up-front and then reimburse your money. If you are worried that you will not be able to pay the fees upfront, be sure to search for an insurance plan that pays the veterinarian directly.
How much does Pet Insurance Cost?
The cost of pet insurance can range significantly from plan to plan and often depends on how much coverage you want. Accident-only plans are the cheapest option, followed by accident and illness plans and then wellness plans. The more comprehensive your policy, the more you should expect to pay.
Plans can also vary greatly depending on your pet’s breed and age. Some breeds of dogs, for example, are more prone to hereditary conditions. If your dog falls into one of these breeds, it may raise the cost of your insurance coverage. Insurance costs may also increase if your pet is older, and some insurance companies won’t cover older pets at all.
Keeping all of that in mind, the average cost of pet insurance in Canada is $39 per dog and $29 per cat (each month).
So is it worth it?
Pet insurance is really about playing the odds. In some cases, pet insurance could be very beneficial and save you drastically on vet bills. Even if you have a very healthy dog or cat, accidents and illness can happen. All it takes is your dog or cat to be hit by a car, and you could have ongoing vet bills for the rest of their life.
And according to PetPlan insurance, the average cost of emergency veterinarian care can be anywhere from $800-$1500 – and that’s just the average.
Depending on what type of care you need, vet bills can cost thousands and thousands of dollars. If you consider ongoing medication and care costs, the bills can really wrack up. In such a case, you’d be very glad you had pet insurance to help cover the costs (even if only partially).
In other cases, you may never need to use the insurance. If you are lucky enough never to encounter any accidents or illnesses, you won’t have any emergency bills, and you won’t need the insurance. In such a case, you’ve now paid a significant amount of money over the years for no reason.
So in conclusion, pet insurance is worth getting if your pet is prone to accidents or certain illnesses. Outside that, pet insurance is a gamble. If you are going to invest, be sure to read and understand your policy and all that it includes so as not to be surprised if an emergency ever does arise.