Health & Wellness

Should You Get Pet Insurance?

Pet insurance can offer you peace of mind—but is it worth the cost?

By Matt Smith

According to Statistics Canada, pets are members of more than half of all Canadian households, but in fewer than 2% of those households are animal companions covered by insurance.

The services offered by veterinary clinics today can rival those of human hospitals, and the costs of having your pet undergo treatment can be astronomical. Pet insurance may therefore seem a necessity, but is it actually worth the cost?

There are a number of players in the pet insurance game, and their rates and coverage vary wildly. Policies can vary depending on your pet’s age, breed, and size, as well as on your location. Pre-existing conditions usually aren’t covered, and neither are vaccines or routine blood work. In addition, many breeds—especially purebred dogs—are deemed at high risk for certain genetic conditions, which may also exclude them from coverage. And while it might seem wise to get your older pets insured, some companies won’t insure pets past a certain age.

For these reasons, owners of the pets who need insurance the most may find that they’re not covered when the vet bill arrives.

With this in mind, it’s crucial that you take a thorough look at the available options to make sure that you choose a policy suited to your pet’s needs. It may be possible to add a rider to your plan to cover some or all of the issues listed above, but that peace of mind can come at a significant added cost. You’ll also want to make sure that your insurance plan covers additional costs such as examination and consultation fees.

Ultimately, it’s up to you to decide whether or not to get your pet insured. While some may be unable able to find a policy that’s right for their furry friends, others will be grateful for the coverage when medical bills begin to mount.

Ask your vet for advice during your next visit. Some will advocate for insurance, but others recommend that pet owners take matters into their own hands: instead of investing in insurance, you may want to consider opening a savings account for pet emergencies. While this may not provide you with the same extent of coverage that an insurance policy can, you’ll at least know exactly how much of a cushion you’ll have when you have to take Felix in for the next appointment.

Pets aren’t just cute and cuddly—they can actually help you stay healthy. Watch for “The Healing Power of Pets” in the January/February issue of Good Times magazine.

Photo: iStock/SeventyFour.