Pet Insurance 101

Pet Insurance 101

One thing I hear repeatedly in my line of work is, “I’d rather put my dog down than spend money on them.” Seriously. You just said that to the wrong person.

If you have a pet, you can assume at some point in their lives, they are going to need the care of a veterinarian. I hope you never do, but sometimes the unexpected happens even if you keep a close eye on them, and pet insurance is there to help cover the costs. Whether your pet has an accident, for example your Shepherd loves to run and comes home limping; now requiring a $3000+ ACL surgery repair. Need physical therapy? That may be covered, too. Acupuncture, hydrotherapy, homeopathy, chiropractic and other alternative therapies can be used to treat many pet conditions and are eligible for coverage!

Do you think your pet swallowed something but not sure? Better safe than sorry to have exploratory surgery, but nobody wants to spend the money on vet bills. Surgeries, diagnostic tests, hospital stays and examination fees are covered. According to Petplan claims data, dogs under the age of one are actually 2.5 times more likely than their older canine companions to have an unexpected visit to the vet. Every six seconds, a pet parent is faced with a vet bill for more than $3,000 (2014 claims data). Did Dexter catch his dewclaw in the couch? (Accident claim). It doesn’t matter how closely we watch our pets, accidents are bound to happen at some point. We have them with us for hopefully (more)13 to 15 years!

Do you have an escape artist and your Beagle sniffed his way out of the backyard? You may be eligible to post a reward for their return!

Your pet could develop allergies, or an illness such as Diabetes, Cushing’s, or a Thyroid disease costing hundreds to thousands of dollars each month for treatment. One in two dogs will develop Cancer. Wouldn’t the worst thing be hearing that your dog has cancer and you have to put them down because you can’t afford it? Pet insurance can help fight cancer and offer your pet the care they deserve as costs of treating cancer can easily add up to over $10,000 depending on the patient’s treatment plan. Medications are covered. These examples would fall under illness coverage.

Another thing I hear is people do not want the monthly cost, they tell me they would rather “gamble” on their pet’s health. Or they may not need it for years and then they will cancel it. Trust me, I understand. I was once that person. I denied Riggs’ pet insurance his first years because I didn’t want an extra monthly fee. Our first dog when I was a kid never had major issues. I thought the same; I will pay out of pocket when something arises. However, when I started working in the pet industry and I saw all these problematic animals, I changed my tune real fast and made the call to sign him up. By that time yes, we did have some things on our medical record (classified as pre-existing conditions) but it was most definitely the best thing I’ve ever done. Now, here we are with a rare disease costing us thousands a year (sometimes thousands just in one month).

Before that, the amount we spent in diagnostics was well worth the money spent. Now I can claim our food, vitamins, holistics; I can give him the best care possible that he deserves without having to worry financially.

Another thing I listen to people say is they would rather put aside their own fund. Here’s an example. If you put away $50 per month, for 5 years, that’s only $600 per year equaling $3,000 over that 5 years (if you didn’t touch it!). We spent more than that this July on one procedure, not including medications. It simply isn’t enough. Though, if you paid that much per month in pet insurance (some plans are actually lower), everything would be covered for that treatment well and above.

However, life happens and sometimes we dip into Fluffy’s savings account, or they are not prepared for how much veterinary costs actually are. The thing with pet insurance is, you get that money back – up to 90%. The cost of veterinary medicine will only rise as it continues to advance. Unfortunately I am seeing people withhold veterinary care to their pet simply because of the costs and that is purely inexcusable. With pet insurance, you’ll never have to choose between your pocket and your pet.

It is just plain inevitable that our pets are going to age. Nationwide Pet Insurance data says 20% of processed claims were conditions related to obesity such as arthritis.

Having pet insurance gives you the peace of mind.

So how does pet insurance work? What does it cover and what does it not cover? Pet insurance is similar to insurance for humans. I get many clients not interested in it until they need it when they are faced with a huge expense. It doesn’t work like that. To put it similarly, you cannot get in a car accident, smash your uninsured vehicle and then call and expect to be covered for a brand new one. Make sense?

After you choose your company, discuss your pet’s history, your information including your account for automatic deposits for reimbursement or address for cheque; you pick your plan, your deductible and co-pay. Here’s how insurance works when it’s time to put it to use:

  • After seeing your vet, it’s time to make a claim for your reimbursement.
  • Usually you pay the cost up front unless your company or your vet has made other arrangements (I have spoken to one company who is set up for covering the cost so you don’t have to)
  • Print off your insurance reimbursement claim form for your attending veterinarian to fill out.
  • Attach with itemized receipts and any other original prescriptions you may have.
  • Then send in to your insurance company however they may request; fax, email, screen shot using app.
  • Done!
    • Wait for your claim to be processed and your money to be reimbursed. Time will vary depending on your company.

Pet insurance does not cover preexisting conditions (any injury or illness that your pet shows symptoms of before coverage begins.) Pre-existing conditions are not covered by any pet insurance providers. However, even if your pet has a pre-existing condition or shows indications hinting at a pre-existing condition, they are still eligible for coverage of any new accidents or illnesses. Some pre-existing conditions may be void if they no longer exist after 6 months. Ask about this!

Most pet insurances do not cover routine care as that is your responsibility as a pet owner (for example, spay/neuter, vaccinations, dentals) but you may be able to find one that includes Wellness Coverage as an option. Any company I have spoken to have not but I am learning depending on your coverage these are becoming more of an option!

Another common question is how much does pet insurance cost? That depends on many factors. The cost will vary depending on which company you choose, the plan you choose, coverage (deductible, co-pay), type of animal you have, breed, age, health status, and your location (the costs of veterinarian clinics in your area affect the price). It is best to call the insurance company yourself and ask for your individual quote.

These are some important questions you may want to ask when calling insurance companies:

  • Are there any breed exclusions? Meaning, some companies will not cover certain breeds. None that I have talked to do this anymore, but best be safe and ask. In addition:
    • Are health conditions associated with the breed covered?
  • Do you have a lifetime guarantee? (If your pet gets too old or too many claims, what happens to your policy? (premiums)
  • Do I get to keep my Veterinarian? Specialists?
  • Is my pet covered if I travel outside of our country?
  • Know your coverage – understand what is included/excluded.
    • Know your caps/limits per incident/illness
  • If you have multiple pets in the household, do they offer discounts?

You should also familiarize yourself with these common terms:

  • Co-insurance: This is the portion of the cost of the claim (what you don’t get back). For example, if your policy has 20 percent co-insurance, you will be responsible for 20 percent of the cost per claim.
  • Deductible: You will predetermine this amount in which you are responsible for paying before processing an insurance reimbursement (payout). Deductibles may be charged annually (a one time deal) or per claim.
  • Pre-existing condition: As discussed above. Any chronic known medical condition before (or during in some cases) the pet parent applied for pet insurance. Pre-existing conditions are excluded from coverage. Best to discuss with the insurance company what is or isn’t covered regarding your pet.

While you many not know what the future holds for your pet, and many people have tried to calculate the math per month versus “if it’s worth it”, there is one thing you can count on, having peace of mind, and that right there is absolutely priceless.

Insurance Companies – Click on their websites to learn more/ enter to find your quote today. I have included Canada, U.S. and UK for my Friends.

  • Pet Plan Pet Insurance

  • Pet Secure (Canadian)

  • Nationwide

  • Healthy Paws

  • ASPCA Pet Health Insurance

  • Embrace Pet Insurance

  • Figo Pet Insurance

  • Pets Best Pet Health Insurance

  • Pet First

UK Pet insurance:


  • More Than

  • direct line

  • PetPlan – Ultimate

Making the fur fly,

Danielle & Riggs

The Pet Professionals: Cert. Vet Assist, Professional Dog Groomer, Canine/Feline Nutritionist.