An examination of factors to keep in mind when considering pet health insurance as an option for your four-legged friend.
When welcoming a new pet into their home, most new pet owners don't spend too much time thinking about the possibility of their new companion being injured or falling seriously ill. Families welcoming a new puppy are more likely to think about all of the exciting times to come (or protecting their shoes!), and not so much about the potential for huge vet bills in down the road. Those excitedly caring for a new kitten are more likely to think about how adorable their new family member is, especially when it falls asleep while sitting up!
Although new pets are adorable and very exciting, the reality is that planning ahead for your pet's future health is as important as carefully selecting the type of pet you want to bring into your home. Pets - especially cats and dogs - are long-term companions, and it's important to ensure that you are able to provide the care that they need, should they fall ill or be injured.
More and more pet owners are looking into the option of pet health insurance as a way to protect their pets - and their bank accounts - in case of illness or injury in the future. Pet health insurance works in the same way other types of insurance; it allows you to put a bit of money aside every month to avoid having to spend large amounts - hundreds or even thousands of dollars - all at once in the future. This helps pet owners avoid the very difficult decision of how much they are willing to spend, should their pet be injured or fall ill.
Much like home, auto, life and health insurance for people, pet health insurance coverage and premiums vary widely. It is important that you do your research to ensure that the decision you make is the most suitable for your pet and your family. When investigating pet insurance options, there are several important factors you need to consider; two of these are discussed below:
Is pet insurance right for you?
How deeply attached are you to your pet? Would you be willing to spend a small fortune if it meant keeping your pet healthy for a longer period of time? Pet insurance is ideal for pet owners who are willing to go to great lengths - and great expenses - to care for their pets. For such people, pet insurance can provide protection and peace of mind.
Where does your pet spend most of his or her time? Is your cat strictly an indoor cat, or does she roam outside as well? Regardless of whether your pet lives indoors, outdoors or both, they are very likely to encounter hazards such as poisons, foreign objects and possibly also other animals. Although indoor pets can pick up diseases and infections, those who spend time outdoors are even more likely to get hurt or sick.
Can you afford to pay insurance premiums for your pet? Many pet owners decide against pet insurance because they do not want to pay premiums - which can cost anywhere from $20 per month to $70 or more per month. In this case it is important to consider whether you would be able to afford - or want to pay - expensive vet bills should something happen in the future where your pet needs medical attention.
What kind of insurance should you get?
So you've decided that pet insurance is the right choice for you. Now you need to consider where to get the insurance from and what kind of coverage you want to get. As the industry grows, more companies are offering a variety of insurance plans for your pet. You can opt for a basic insurance plan, which carries lower premiums (usually starting around $20/month), lower coverage and higher deductibles and co-payments. For example, the Ontario SPCA offers a basic "Level Intro" plan which costs as little as $17.95 - $24.95 per month and includes up to $1,000 in accident and illness coverage per year. This plan as an increasing deductible and co-payment depending on the age of your pet at the time of the incident.
In contrast, if you want more peace of mind you can choose to shell out more per month for more comprehensive coverage. For example, the highest level of coverage available through the Ontario SPCA is their "Unlimited" plan. Depending on the type of animal you are insuring (cat or dog), this plan can cost anywhere from $69.95 to $119.95 per month. This plan includes unlimited accident and illness coverage, $500 per year in preventative care (e.g. vaccinations, spay or neuter), and has the same increasing deductible and co-payment levels as the lesser plan.
Regardless of whether you choose to purchase insurance for your pet, it is important to remember that most pets will need veterinary attention at some time. For this reason, it is important to plan ahead and make sure that you can provide your pet with the care it needs, when it needs it.