Pet insurance helps pay for unexpected expenses, such as vet bills, so you can focus on giving your furry friend the best care possible. But what exactly does pet insurance cover and is it worth it? That’s what we explore today. Keep reading to learn more about pet insurance, including how BrokerLink and Fetch can help you find the right coverage for your dog or car.
What is pet insurance?
Think of pet insurance like human health insurance but for animals. Pet insurance primarily focuses on the cost of medical care for your pet. If your dog or cat gets injured or falls ill, vet bills can pile up quickly. Pet insurance can help you cover these unexpected costs. That said, it is not intended to pay for routine care or care for conditions your pet had before you purchase the policy. Pet insurance is not mandatory for pet owners in Canada but can be an incredibly worthwhile investment.
Can I buy pet insurance?
Pet insurance is available to a wide range of pet owners in Canada. However, in most cases, pet insurance companies exclusively insure cats and dogs. If you own a different animal, such as a horse, bird, rabbit, snake, or another exotic pet, you may need to seek coverage from a specialty provider. It’s also worth noting that some pet insurance providers only insure pets of certain ages. For example, some policies may have minimum age limits of six or ten weeks old or maximum age limits of eight to fourteen for dogs and cats. That said, once enrolled in a plan, most companies will offer pet insurance coverage for life so long as you continue paying your premiums. Lastly, when it comes to buying pet insurance, it can be purchased online, over the phone, or in person. It also can be purchased through an insurance broker like BrokerLink that can help you compare your options and find great coverage at an affordable price.
Basic pet insurance coverage
Pet insurance coverage varies greatly. However, the most common types of pet insurance plans cover both accidents and illness. For example, if your dog develops a urinary tract infection or is hit by a moving vehicle, their treatment might be covered up to the policy limit. Other plans may only cover accidents, such as your cat swallowing a toy and requiring medical attention. Accident-only pet insurance plans are usually cheaper but the trade-off is that they provide less coverage. Generally speaking, you can expect the average pet insurance policy to cover the following medical expenses:
- X-rays, ultrasounds, and other diagnostic tests
- Emergency care
- Prescription medications
- Treatment for illnesses, such as cancer, viruses, or infections
Additional pet insurance coverage
Beyond the basic medical coverage listed above, some pet insurance plans may provide additional coverage, like the following:
- Exam fees - Some plans cover exam fees, meaning you could be reimbursed for any exams conducted when your pet is sick or injured, rather than only the procedures and drugs being covered.
- Prescription diets and supplements - Prescription diets and supplements may also be covered by some pet insurance providers. This means that if a vet prescribes a certain type of feed or supplement to treat a medical condition, your provider can help cover the costs.
- Alternative and rehabilitative treatment - Beyond standard medical care, such as surgeries or prescription medications, pet owners may also be able to purchase coverage for alternative and rehabilitative treatments. Under this type of insurance, any alternative treatments your pet requires (this could range from acupuncture to chiropractic care) might be covered.
- Behavioural therapies - Certain pets may require behavioural therapy to treat issues like anxiety or aggression, but not all pet insurance covers this. Ask your broker about behavioural therapy coverage add-ons for pet insurance.
- Congenital or hereditary conditions - Some pet insurance plans limit coverage for congenital or hereditary conditions, especially if there were symptoms before the policy was bought. If your pet suffers from a congenital abnormality or hereditary condition, such as hip dysplasia, or you are worried that they might in the future, purchasing this extra medical coverage might be worthwhile.
- End of life expenses - One final type of additional pet insurance coverage that may be available is end of life coverage. This offers financial protection against the expenses associated with the death of a pet, such as euthanasia, burial, or cremation.
What is not covered by pet insurance?
Now that you know what can be covered by pet insurance, let’s delve into what is not covered by pet insurance. Being aware of what isn’t covered can help you determine if pet insurance is worth it:
- Routine care - First, it must be noted that most pet insurance policies do not cover basic routine care, such as spaying and neutering, teeth cleaning, or annual vaccinations. That said, some policies might let you cover these costs for an extra fee.
- Cosmetic or elective surgeries - Most pet insurance policies will not cover elective or cosmetic surgeries, such as cat declawing, tail docking, or ear cropping. These procedures would need to be medically necessary for them to potentially be covered.
- Pre-existing conditions - Another category that is generally not covered by pet insurance policies is pre-existing conditions. Pre-existing conditions are medical problems that a pet had before you bought the policy (or that became apparent during the waiting period before coverage began). While most pet insurance policies do not cover such conditions, some may cover past conditions that have been cured for a certain time period.
- Breeding - Costs associated with breeding or animal pregnancy are typically not included in standard pet insurance policies, though some providers may let you add a rider or endorsement if you wish for them to be covered.
How does pet insurance work?
Pet insurance aims to protect pet owners from the costs needed to keep their pets healthy. As with any type of insurance, pet owners can choose from different coverage types, policy limits, and deductibles. Coverage is often categorized into accidents, injuries, and illnesses. Some offer coverage for all three, while others offer coverage for one or two of the three. Accident-only coverage is usually the cheapest, whereas the most expensive plans cover accidents, injuries, and illnesses, and may also feature additional coverages like death-related expenses. Generally speaking, the more comprehensive the plan, the more expensive it will be.
Basic pet insurance plans cover medical expenses, including surgeries, prescription medications, diagnostic tests (including X-rays and ultrasounds), hospitalization, and emergency care. In most cases, plans can be paid monthly or annually. If you need to file a claim, most are paid out through reimbursement. This means that the policyholder will pay the full amount when due, submit a claim to the insurance company, and depending on the policy, receive money back to cover the costs (your insurer may cover the full amount of expense or part of it). However, some pet insurance companies may be able to reimburse your vet directly so you don’t have to pay as much money out of pocket. To help you understand how pet insurance works, we outline three key components below:
Most pet insurance companies have maximum payouts for claims. These payouts may have annual limits or they may apply to your pet’s lifetime or the specific type of incident or condition. There could also be a combination of payout limits. Therefore, it’s important to read the precise terms of your policy beforehand.
All insurance policies have deductibles, which is the amount of money that the policyholder pays out of pocket before the insurance company will start paying. With many pet insurance plans, the deductible resets annually, assuming you renew your policy. However, with some companies, the deductible may be per incident. In this instance, once you pay the deductible for a certain injury or illness, the plan reimburses you up to the policy limit, even in future years. This can come in handy if your pet develops a chronic condition. However, it can be risky if your pet were to suffer from several different medical conditions in the same year, as your deductible would apply to each.
Reimbursement levels are also crucial to understand when purchasing pet insurance. Pet insurance policies typically reimburse policyholders for a percentage of treatment costs. Policyholders can choose which reimbursement level they want (e.g. 60%, 70%, 80%, or more). As you might suspect, the higher the reimbursement level, the more expensive the policy is likely to be. Further, it’s important to understand how the reimbursement process works. Some insurers will reimburse you a percentage of the vet bill, while others may reimburse you according to a benefit schedule they have established for each condition.
How much does pet insurance cost?
The average cost of pet insurance varies considerably as it is dependent on a wide variety of factors. For example, the species, age, and breed of your pet can impact the cost. The older your pet is, the more likely they are to require medical care, and the more expensive your policy will be. Further, some breeds might cost more to insure if they have proven to be more susceptible to medical problems. As with home or auto insurance, your location also impacts the price of pet insurance as the cost of veterinary care varies between cities and even neighbourhoods. Of course, the amount and type of coverage you buy, along with the reimbursement levels and deductibles you choose will also influence your insurance premium. More coverage, lower deductibles, and higher reimbursement levels are all likely to raise your premium. Ultimately, if you want to find out how much pet insurance will cost you, contact the experts at Fetch, a partner of BrokerLink. One of the representatives would be pleased to provide you with a pet insurance quote.
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Pet insurance pros
Consider the benefits that pet insurance offers before deciding if it’s right for you:
1. Pet insurance policies are easy to understand
Pet insurance is relatively easy to understand. Policies are simple and there are fewer options than with human health insurance plans. This makes them easier to compare. Plus, Fetch can provide free, no-obligation quotes in minutes to help make shopping for pet insurance even easier.
2. Pet insurance can be relatively inexpensive for young pets
Another pro of pet insurance is that it can be relatively inexpensive for young pets. If your pet is young and healthy, or you choose a lower tier (e.g. accident-only coverage), you find pet insurance for less than your monthly streaming subscription. Getting peace of mind at such a low price point is a major perk of pet insurance.
3. You can keep seeing your vet
There are fewer headaches around eligible providers when it comes to pet insurance. So long as your vet is licenced in your region, eligible expenses should be covered. This means you likely won’t have to worry about your insurance company accepting your claim or your vet accepting your insurance. Since in most cases you will pay out of pocket and submit a claim retroactively, all you need to get from the vet is a copy of the invoice and your pet’s records.
4. Pet insurance allows you to give your pet the best care
Having pet insurance might make you more likely to see the vet when your pet needs medical care. No pet owner ever wants to choose between a sick pet and piles of debt. Pet insurance helps you avoid this conundrum, allowing you to put your pet’s health and well-being above all. Therefore, by investing in pet insurance, you can give your pet the best possible care.
Pet insurance cons
While pet insurance offers all kinds of benefits, it also has its disadvantages. We outline the cons of pet insurance below:
1. Insurance premiums can be costly for older pets
Pet insurance can be incredibly reasonable for young, healthy pets, but if your pet is older or has a pre-existing condition, your premiums could be expensive. In this instance, you will need to carefully weigh the cost and decide if it’s right for you.
2. Policyholders must initially pay out of pocket
Another drawback of pet insurance is that in most cases, the policyholder must pay the necessary expenses out of pocket. Only after these expenses are paid can they file a claim with the insurance company to get reimbursed. If your pet needs a costly procedure, it might be difficult to come up with the cash upfront. Depending on the company, processing a claim can take time, so while you will eventually get your money, you might be in a tough spot for a little while. In addition to pet insurance, we recommend having a separate rainy day fund or fund specifically for vet emergencies so that you are always prepared to handle the upfront charges.
3. Pet insurance coverage might be limited
Depending on the policy you choose, your insurance coverage might be limited. For example, routine medical care, such as check-ups or annual vaccinations, is usually not covered. Further, certain congenital or hereditary conditions may also not be covered, along with cosmetic procedures and breeding or pregnancy-related expenses. In addition, even for costs that are covered, many pet owners still end up paying at least a small portion of these expenses out of pocket.
4. You could spend more than necessary
If your pet is healthy and only requires routine vet care, pet insurance may not save you much. In fact, it could lead to you spending more on vet care than you otherwise would have. That said, pet insurance offers peace of mind that is invaluable to many pet owners. If an emergency did occur, the right policy could help you cover the costs.
Alternatives to pet insurance
Before you decide against purchasing health insurance, it’s important to consider the alternatives:
- The first and most obvious alternative is self-funding - This means preparing for paying all pet-related medical costs out of pocket by saving up your own money. Ideally, this would be done by adding a portion of your income each money to a high-yield savings account. Instead of paying a monthly insurance premium, you would contribute money to a savings account that you could turn to in cases of emergency. The advantage of this strategy is that if your pet remains healthy and does not require medical care, you can use this money for other purposes in the future. However, the disadvantage is that you might not have enough money saved up to cover an expensive accident or emergency. Self-funding typically only works if you are diligent about saving money and can put away enough money to fund a potential vet bill that costs thousands of dollars.
- A second alternative to pet insurance is securing financial assistance from a third party - This is best suited to people who are unable to afford to care for their pets on their own. In some cases, your vet may be willing to work out a payment plan, or you can find a vet clinic that offers this. Another option is to set up a crowdfunding campaign following an accident or illness to get financial support from your community. Certain charitable organizations may also provide grants or assistance, though it can be difficult to obtain and funds may be limited. Of course, you can also ask friends or family members for help covering the costs if an issue arises.
As you can see, both alternatives to pet insurance are far from ideal. Savings accounts offer limited protection and depend on the policyholder being diligent and committed to saving their money each month. Meanwhile, depending on financial assistance in the form of crowdfunding or grant programs can be incredibly stressful and risky, and should be backup plans at best. Pet insurance is the only option that has the potential to provide both peace of mind and financial protection.
How to get pet insurance
Curious about how to purchase pet insurance? As with any insurance policy, it all starts with some decision-making. Determine the type of pet insurance plan you want (accident-only, accident and injury, or accident, injury, and wellness) and the coverage you need. If you need help understanding the various plans or coverage types available to you, ask a broker.
Next, obtain quotes from pet insurance providers in your area, or contact a Fetch advisor who will do this on your behalf. We will reach out to Canada’s top pet insurance companies, obtain quotes, and compare policies to find you the best coverage.
Once you’ve narrowed down your options, review each potential policy’s reimbursement levels, payout limits, and deductibles. Go over the fine print with a broker to ensure you understand the claims process and are aware of all restrictions and exclusions.
Finally, purchase a policy and get the protection you need. Nowadays, pet insurance policies can be purchased online, over the phone, or in person.
Get a pet insurance quote 1-866-381-1946
So, is pet insurance worth it?
Finally, we get to the question of the hour: is pet insurance worth it? Ultimately, the answer to this question will vary from pet owner to pet owner. But the reality is that pet insurance is a worthwhile investment for many people owing to the peace of mind it offers. There is ultimately no way to know what lies ahead for your pet. Whether they get hit by a moving vehicle, contract a disease, start showing signs of a hereditary condition, swallow a toy and require surgery, or get attacked by another animal, pet insurance can help you face a whole host of possibilities. No matter the age or current health of your pet, insurance helps protect against the unknown.
Since pre-existing conditions are typically not covered by pet insurance policies, it’s wise to start paying for pet insurance when they are young. Waiting until they are older and require more medical care might seem like the smart thing to do, but it can result in paying far more than you otherwise would have, especially since the cost of pet insurance is often minimal for young pets.
Ultimately, we urge you to consider buying pet insurance if any of the following applies:
- Your pet is young and healthy
- You don’t have enough savings to cover the cost of an expensive hefty vet bill
- The idea of having insurance gives you peace of mind
Overall, for many pet owners in 2022, pet insurance is worth the cost. It offers greater protection than crowdfunding or a rainy day fund. Plus, by covering everything from treatments and medications to surgeries and diagnostic tests, pet insurance will help ensure your pet gets the care they need.
Contact Fetch to learn more about pet insurance
Ready to purchase pet insurance? Fetch is here to help.
Fetch can help you explore your coverage options, obtain and compare quotes, or answer any questions you may have about deductibles, reimbursement levels, and more. They can also provide you with a free pet insurance quote. Give them a call, and one of the friendly insurance advisors will be pleased to assist you.
Protect your pet to the best of your ability with pet insurance. Contact Fetch to get started today.
Get a pet insurance quote 1-866-381-1946