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Pet Insurance- Canadian Experiences?

Guest sorenkkg

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Guest sorenkkg

Hi all,


If all goes well, we should be getting 2 greys in September. 3.5yrs old, brother and sister. So now is the time to think about insurance.


We didn't have it with our previous dogs, and we were lucky. Aleeya had one mysterious ailment that came to about $3000 in emergency and ongoing treatment and we had just re-fi'd the house and had some cash available. Other than that, no big issues.


But I know that's not always the case and insurance is for peace of mind, and it's for the *big* events.


I also know that starting when the dogs are young is important, and not having "pre-existing conditions"...


So if you are Canadian, do you have insurance for your pets? Who do you use/recommend? What do they usually cover? Any advice welcome!



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Here is our experience: 8 years ago, when our Jamey had osteo and his leg amputated and subsequently received chemo, we had pet Insurance withPetSecure. They covered 80% of our bills ( we had the 3rd tier I believe). I had many pets insured with them, 6 dogs, 4 cats I think it was. $425 per month on premiums, 80% coverage minus deductibles. Jamey's initial amputation was about $5000, each of four or five chemo treatments was about $500 each. A few weeks into the chemo treatments the company decreased our coverage to 70% and then eventually to 50%!! We were now high risk users to them.


After Jamey passed I evaluated a "normal" year for us and calculated that I got back about $2500 from the company....but I paid out $425 x 12 = $5100 in premiums (for still 10 pets, we adopted another). That didn't seem right to me- the company got $2500 for nothing, basically!! So I cancelled all insurance!


I now put the premium amount into a tax free saving account (it is the pet account for me) and withdraw for the big bills- I cover the annual exams and shots. I get to keep the extra $2500, and not the insurance company.


I know it's taking a chance, but we were able to cover our galgo Jules' illness, hospitalization, and passing a year ago.


Hope that helps with your decision.

Tin and Michael and Lucas, Picasso, Hero, Oasis, Galina, Neizan, Enzo, Salvo and Noor the Galgos.
Remembering Bridge Angel Greyhounds: Tosca, Jamey, Master, Diego, and Ambi; plus Angel Galgos Jules, Marco and Baltasar.

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I highly recommend pet insurance for everyone. As you say, it is for major, expensive, emergency events. As a vet, my experience is that pets with insurance tend to get better, quicker care than pets without. Now, that's not universal of course...there are lots of devoted pet parents that do everything I recommend, when I recommend it and just pay out of pocket. However, many of us don't have a couple thousand dollars burning a hole in our pocket, and we may have other financial responsibilities to consider as well (a house, a car, a family, etc).


I have pretty well run the gauntlet on pet insurance.


Summit is my oldest (and first dog), a retired racer, and a bounce that we adopted when he was 5.5 yrs old. I elected not to get insurance for him because he did already have some pre-existing conditions. I was pretty lucky with him. He really didn't have any medical concerns. He was diagnosed with pannus, which requires lifelong eye meds which are not super expensive. Other than that I basically had nothing beyond routine costs for him, until last year when he herniated a disc in his neck and needed spinal surgery. That cost $6000 and I paid it out of pocket. That wiped out all of my savings from 4 years of working.


Kili is 4.5 now and I got her as an 8 week old puppy. She has insurance with PetSecure and I have the highest level plan. It covers 80% of all costs and has an unlimited budget (some of their lesser plans only cover each condition up to a certain amount, $1000, $5000, etc). It also covers 80% of some routine costs such as dewormer, vaccination, routine bloodwork, etc. which is kind of a nice bonus. I believe my deductible is $250 and it is a yearly, not a per condition. So basically once I meet my deductible for the year, no matter how many different problems she has, I don't pay more for deductibles, I only cover my 20% of the co-pay. Kili had a lot of urinary tract issues right from the get go. She actually started using her insurance while she was still on her 6 week puppy trial. Over the next 6 months she racked up about $8000 in bills. I had just graduated from school so I had fairly minimal savings and the insurance really saved me from being super worried about money. She has been pretty healthy since... we used her insurance once or twice a year for the next couple of years for minor stuff, and I don't think I've put in a claim now in over 18 months (knock on wood). Still worth every penny though.


Kenna has insurance with Trupanion. They cover 90% of expenses, but they do not cover exam fees (which for me isn't a big deal because the only time I pay an exam fee is typically if I have to see a specialist) or routine health care (this typically includes dentals too). I can't remember what my deductible is, but the nice thing is you can choose your deductible and your monthly fees are then set accordingly. Since I mostly have insurance for major emergencies, I set my deductible reasonably high to help keep the monthly premiums low. If you choose to do that though, realize that you won't be able to claim much for less serious issues because they have a "per condition" deductible. So if you set your deductible to $500, if you take your dog in for diarrhea, or an ear infection, you won't be able to claim it because the bill will be less than your deductible anyway. So you just need to decide what fits best with your lifestyle. I'm pretty sure you can adjust your deductible later on too if it turns out it doesn't work for your financial needs. I have not needed to use my insurance for Kenna yet (thank god), but Trupanion is one of the most popular insurance choices so I deal with them a lot at work for my patients, and generally people seem pleased with them.



After Jamey passed I evaluated a "normal" year for us and calculated that I got back about $2500 from the company....but I paid out $425 x 12 = $5100 in premiums (for still 10 pets, we adopted another). That didn't seem right to me- the company got $2500 for nothing, basically!!



To me, this is a terrible way of looking at insurance. If you are looking to "make money" off the insurance company, you're always going to be disappointed. The point isn't to get as much money back as you put in, and it'll never work like that on the average. The insurance company has costs. They have staff who need to be paid, they have large claims to pay out to owners with very sick pets. If you have a very sick pet that requires $10000 in treatments, where does that money come from? It comes from the premiums that you and other pet owners have contributed. If everyone got back the same or more than they paid the company, the company would not be able to pay out large sums of money to sick pets that need it. Insurance isn't a personal bank account, it is exactly what the name implies... insurance. Insurance against catastrophic events. I pay the insurance company so that I can have peace of mind, so that I don't have to worry. I pay the insurance companies, so that if/when my dogs need expensive treatments I don't have to think about it, I don't have to check my account balance, I don't have to phone family to borrow money... I just say "yes, do it... do it now". THAT is what I'm paying for. I will never get back as much as I pay the company... and that's okay. I hope I never need them to cover tens of thousands of dollars of treatment... because that means my dog is VERY, VERY sick.


Insurance isn't always for everyone. There are other options such as saving money. But, I will say that I know how quickly you can go through $3000, $5000, $10000 in a pet emergency. After Summit's surgery I had basically nothing left in savings, so if one of the girls had had an emergency I would have been in a really tough spot for money. As it was, I was worried about other things (what if something happens to the car in the next 6 months, etc), but at least I didn't have to worry about medical costs for the girls because they have insurance. It's important to ask yourself what your medical goals are for your pets, what risks/gambles are you willing to take, and then figure out what is the best option for you financially... and that may or may not include insurance. For me, my medical goals are to provide the best medical care always and as quickly as possible, and I am not a gambler (literally, I can't even play with "fun money" it's so stressful for me) so I want to take pretty much zero risks. So for me, insurance is by far the best choice. Summit's surgery was extremely stressful for me even though I had the money to cover it, and I will never have another dog without insurance.

Kristie and the Apex Agility Greyhounds: Kili (ATChC AgMCh Lakilanni Where Eagles Fly RN IP MSCDC MTRDC ExS Bronze ExJ Bronze ) and Kenna (Lakilanni Kiss The Sky RN MADC MJDC AGDC AGEx AGExJ). Waiting at the Bridge: Retired racer Summit (Bbf Dropout) May 5, 2005-Jan 30, 2019

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I have Trupanion, and they have always come through for me. However, their premiums have been steadily going up, so I have been increasing the deductible to try and keep things more or less even. As with all insurance, the initial premium takes into account a number of factors, but a big one is the age of your dog. The younger, the less expensive.


For me, the purpose of insurance is to help with the big stuff, and it was gold with things like Jaynie's osteosarcoma, Jeff's uveitis and later his IMHA. The smaller stuff, even if it's a bump, is generally manageable.


Bear in mind that, with Trupanion at least, you will be covering the deductible, all consults, taxes and 10% of treatment costs post-deductible. In other words, even with insurance, costs tend to be front-end loaded. And, since Trupanion is treatment focused, they do not cover routine costs like dentals, shots, etc.


In the end, I think the best thing to do is set the deductible as high as you can while still being able to cover all or most of the front-end costs, and then also save some money each month. That was you have a reserve to cover routine costs and all or a good chunk of front-end incident costs, following which they cover 90% of treatment (including tests) leaving you with 10%, taxes, and any recheck consults.


ETA: I agree with others that the purpose of insurance is peace of mind. Same general reason we have home and car insurance, and even travel insurance. Good to have, and you hope you never need it, because that means all is well. And on the flip side, if something bad does happen, it means you can choose the treatment that is best for your dog, with cost being a much smaller factor than it otherwise might be.


One caution, if your pet has had any medical issues at all, ask for the insurance company's assessment of pre-existing conditions that will not be covered, in order to avoid any unfortunate surprises.

Edited by Rickiesmom
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but a big one is the age of your dog. The younger, the less expensive.


I'm not sure if it makes a difference on what the initial premium gets set at, but if I recall correctly, Trupanion does not actually increase premiums based on age of the pet. They change a bit each year based on inflation and changes in the cost of medical care in your area, but supposedly not because of the age of the dog (Kili's premiums have actually been decreased a couple of times with PetSecure). PetSecure also does not change premiums based on age, however they do increase your deductible at the age of 7.

Kristie and the Apex Agility Greyhounds: Kili (ATChC AgMCh Lakilanni Where Eagles Fly RN IP MSCDC MTRDC ExS Bronze ExJ Bronze ) and Kenna (Lakilanni Kiss The Sky RN MADC MJDC AGDC AGEx AGExJ). Waiting at the Bridge: Retired racer Summit (Bbf Dropout) May 5, 2005-Jan 30, 2019

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Guest DarkHorse

We've had really bad experiences with pet insurance. We adopted both cats with 6 months of insurance provided by the shelter. Both had to go to a vet for treatment within six months. The first time, it was Amadeus with an upper respiratory infection. It happened a few months after adoption, but since he had a URI in the shelter, the insurance declined the cost as a pre-existing condition. OK, fair enough to my mind.


But then Tycho went in to the vet five months after adoption with a severe urinary blockage. $3000 later, the claim was denied. Again, a 'pre-existing condition', despite the fact that he'd had no urinary issues in the shelter and the vet saw no signs of a previous blockage. They just decided that because he was a small male cat, it didn't get covered.


After that, I wasn't willing to pay for insurance. If it was a matter of just not getting as much back as we put in, I'd shrug it off. But we were denied twice, and once for a pretty spurious reason. I didn't think it was worth the chance of spending hundreds a month on insurance only to be denied when we needed coverage when we could be saving those hundreds instead and know that they were there when we needed them.


We've had several unexpected vet costs over the years. Tycho's $3000 on his blockage. Amadeus cost us $1000 for a dental. Araley cost us $500 on her last week of life. Dexter cost us $2000 on getting his eye removed, and another $1000 to diagnose his cancer and euthanize him when he was suffering too much. KB has had one $300 dental and will probably need another one.


So far, we've never had to hesitate on a treatment just because of cost. We have a $15,000 line of credit just for animal costs (unused to date) as well as our savings. We do shop around for things like dentals (especially as our vet prefers not to do them) but when there's not the time or option to do so, we go ahead with the vet's recommendation.


At the end of the day, you have to make the choice that's best for you. We have two good incomes, no kids, a house that has recently been renovated, and a decent sized savings account. We're confident in our ability to pay pretty much any cost out of pocket, and we don't want to have to dither about whether or not insurance will cover things. So insurance doesn't really make sense for us. But if you're concerned about your savings ability, have other significant costs that might dip into your pockets, or just feel better knowing that you've got a backup plan, insurance is a good idea. Personally, I have heard really good things about PetSecure and they've replaced the terrible (seemingly now out of business) company used by the shelter we got the cats from.

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Guest sorenkkg

This is all good info and thank you for sharing your experiences fellow Canadians :)


I've looked at Trupanion, Petplan, petsecure, petsplus, and pc pet insurance. Then there's also having a credit line (we do) and savings (we can do that).



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