My clinic was providing after-hours emergency veterinary care for the City of Greater Sudbury during a recent weekend in September and the number of emergency cases that came in astonished me right out of my napping time! Out of a large number of patients brought in for critically needed veterinary attention, less than a handful of owners had pet insurance. That fact got me thinking about pet insurance as a whole.
Many people don’t understand exactly how pet insurance works. Pet insurance companies are completely separate from the veterinary hospital and there is no direct relationship between veterinarians and insurance companies. The agreement/ relationship occurs between the insurance company and the pet owner. There are variations in protocol but basically, a monthly premium is paid to cover medical care for the pet. Once the pet has been examined and treated at the veterinary hospital, the pet owner pays the bill and then submit documentation to the insurance company, who then reimburses the owner. There is a deductible that the owner is responsible for and the insurance company covers the rest of the cost. Some insurance companies are changing the way they pay out claims – some will pay the veterinary hospital directly and the pet owner only has to pay the cost of the deductible to the veterinary clinic.
Shanon, my Registered Veterinary Technician and loyal servant, is frequently asked which insurance company is the best company. She can’t really answer that question because the needs of each pet and pet family vary dramatically from one to the next. Each company offers levels of insurance coverage – from the basic emergency medical coverage to coverage that covers almost all medical needs to the pet (i.e., annual vaccinations, anti-parasitic medications, pet food, etc).
The more coverage the owner wants, the higher the monthly premium is and there may be a higher deductible as well. There is a website that provides a comparison of the multitude of insurance companies available to Canadian pet owners. The website compares companies and the plans they have available. It also allows pet owners to post reviews of their experiences with the insurance companies. The website is a US website but there is a section for Canadian pet insurance. The website is www.petinsurancereview.com
Some pet owners have a pet specific bank account to cover the costs of pet care. This is a good option if the pet owner can be dedicated to adding to the account routinely. This option gives the pet owner the freedom to use the money they set aside as they see fit. However, some medical conditions are quite unexpected and can be quite costly due to the amount veterinary medicine and length of care needed (i.e., broken bones, intestinal blockages, urinary blockages, cancers and pancreatitis are just a few examples). Having pet insurance allows owners to be confident that they can consent to the ideal treatment options for the benefit of their pet’s health. Most pet insurance companies even offer coverage for your pet if you are travelling in the US with your pet.
Pet insurance is an affordable option for most families and it is worthwhile checking to see if it would be a good fit for you and your pet. Now since I’m trying to ensure that I stay in a good mood, I’m going to cash in my nap insurance and settle in for a long cozy afternoon nap.
Written by Cambrian Animal Hospital