Insuring the health of your pet

August 23 2007 by Ellen Roseman

My insurance series in the Sunday Star is drawing to a close. But my latest column drew a spirited response from pet owners. Some felt pet insurance was the cat’s meow, while others thought it was a dog’s breakfast. One person called and pleaded for pets to be covered under medicare.

Here are some points that are important for owners to consider:

The cost of insuring your pet ranges from $10 a month to $40 a month. Some policies cover accidents only, while others include common illnesses. Routine treatments, such as vaccinations, spaying, neutering and flea control are usually excluded. But a new Purina pet food plan, underwritten by Securican General Insurance, also covers preventative care.

As with any insurance, you have to read the policy language carefully. You may find there are maximum amounts you can claim. You may be covered for only 80 per cent of insured costs, less a deductible. You may have a waiting period before benefits are paid.

An aging pet costs more to insure. You may find your premiums increase every year or your deductibles increase as your pet grows older. Sometimes, pets are covered only until they reach a certain age.

Pre-existing conditions are always excluded. If a health problem first occurred or showed clinical signs before the pet’s coverage started or within the waiting period, the claim will be denied. As is common with any form of health or disability insurance, disputes are common when insurance companies — or their hired experts — make judgment calls about what is a pre-existing or foreseeable condition.

11 comments

  1. Avery

    Aug 24 2007

    We have had pet insurance for our golden retriever since adopting her three years ago.

    While it did have a few limitations because of a bug she had when we got her, it has more than paid off.

    We have claimed and been paid for eye, ear, and multiple bladder infections, all the way up to surgery to remove a piece of a rubber toy the size of an egg from her colon.

    The total vet bill for the last item was over $4,000, of which the insurance paid $2,000. Still, with all of our “lemon’s” various medical issues, at $25 per month we’ve never had any hassles; everything has been approved and paid promptly.