Pets

new pup. Looking for input on pet insurance.

  • Last Updated:
  • Jan 6th, 2021 6:51 pm
[OP]
Deal Addict
Nov 1, 2001
1796 posts
84 upvotes

new pup. Looking for input on pet insurance.

Looking for feedback on the pros and cons of pet insurance and the various pet insurance companies.
18 replies
Deal Addict
Jan 28, 2014
3383 posts
635 upvotes
I strongly suggest you do a search on pet insurance. We did have pet insurance but others do not support it. It does cost a lot and there are limitations on what will be covered. I would very clearly read the terms and conditions of each policy from each company.

However, I would not be without pet insurance.

We do not have the many options offered to U.S. residents.

Note, if there is an offer out there that offers "extra" coverage (and I mean $5 a month) for a minimal amount (i.e. behaviour modification pills etc. I would take it - it wasn't offered at the time we signed up, but others were more fortunate - we were later offered such additional coverages at $40.00 per month). We would have taken the extra coverage for the $5 a month - and no, it won't cover regular visits etc. but there are other things it will cover and you never know.

You will probably be advised to start a bank account for your pup, however that won't help much if you have a $10,000 surgical bill in year one. It is a gamble. If you haven't already done so check out how much surgeries (and staying overnight at the vet clinic costs).

Our premiums were based on a 13 month old pup (Toronto - and this is important because to a large degree the premiums will be based on what pet medical services are available to you and how much they cost and there are a lot of pet medical services these days). Our dog recently died at 16.5 years of age. He did not have a claim until he was 7.5 years of ago and according to his pet insurer his claims were nothing compared to others. I did check from time to time to see what a 13 month old of his breed would cost and it was dead on (I checked from someone else's computer because they would have known it was me.). It is fine to get a quote but he was already insured.

At the end his premiums were $140 a month. They started at $32.00 a month, and were not based on age so this is why I always put in 13 months. In our case, yes, a bank account would have been better, but hindsight is everything.

We were with Trupanion. You might look at Trupanion and the OVMA plan (the most "popular plan" - although it is age based it does cover some things that other insurers do not - as in X dollars towards dentals and physicals). The OVMA had 3 plans last time I checked.

There are other posters who also took out pet insurance who plan to stop coverage in 5 years or so once they have built up a bank account but I suspect that so much will depend on what happens with the pup and life in general.

Congratulations on your pup. I don't know how old your pup is or the breed (I call every dog a pup) but age will factor into the original cost as well as no company will cover pre existing conditions. Our pup did not have any . And remember, at least in Ontario, you have to drop your dog off at the vet's and wait outside (this is for the vet's protection and yours - and most vet clinics do not have the room required for physical distancing). We also had to take our pup to be groomed - he was double coated with a lot of fur! We really miss him.

Trupanion's deductible is based on per condition (lifetime) whereas many insurers have an annual deductible. With Trupanion apparently the sweet spot for a deductible is $250.00 (or it was). But remember if you go with Trupanion that the deductible iis per condition. Many people did not read that and you can figure what happened - a blockage one week, a back disc the next and so on.

Trupanion is trying out a new non-deductible format in Florida but it is a test case and who know what is going on with that now with the virus. When we originally signed our pup up he was with VetInsurance, a Cdn. Company that was later sold to a U.S. Company, Trupanion.

Best of luck!
Sr. Member
User avatar
Jan 14, 2007
561 posts
184 upvotes
GTA North
We went with PetPlan which was offered at a discount if you went from the OSPCA link (if you live in Ontario)

It allowed me to build a plan with the amount of coverage and the deductible I wanted. Bought it the day we brought our 8 week old Golden home in April because puppies can get into a lot. First year annual cost was $554 with 15K annual coverage, $500 annual deductible and 80% reimbursement. Haven't had to use it so can't tell you if it's worth it other than for piece of mind. Will see what the renewal looks like come April 2021.
Member
Mar 14, 2013
457 posts
526 upvotes
Toronto
+1 for Trupanion, lifetime deductible per condition and you can choose your deductible and monthly cost. It's much easier the sooner you get insurance as it's more difficult to deny a pre-existing condition if you've started really early.
Newbie
Mar 31, 2017
60 posts
30 upvotes
Whether to get pet insurance or not really depends on your financial position. Can you comfortably swing or dip into savings for an unexpected vet bill. If not, get insurance so you will never have to make any difficult decisions between your pet's life vs finances.

Another consideration is what breed of dog you have and the general health issues associated with the breed. Some have more than others and you can Google this.

If you do decide to get pet insurance I've heard Trupanion is the best

Personally, I've had 3 Yorkies (2 passed and one is 1.5 years) and I've decided not to get insurance for all 3.

My 1st one ended up with a severe allergy condition at about 1 year old and it was too late to get insurance as it wouldn't be covered since it's a pre-existing condition. I spent thousands trying to figure out what the cause of it was (different vets, holistic vets, dermatologist, allergy tests) but ended up having to put her on medication since it was a combination of food and environment, which we couldn't control. For the last 2 years of her life she was also seeing a neurologist regularly since she had a brain tumor. This was one expensive dog as I keep all vet bills in a folder and tallied it up once when she was about 7 or 8 years old.

My second was fine from a general health perspective but would get into something big every 3 years or so costing a couple thousand each time. At 10 years old she developed chronic kidney disease and had to spend one week in emergency over Christmas and New Years because most specialist doctors weren't working. For the last 6 months of her life she was seeing an internal medicine specialist every 2 weeks with multiple blood tests needed each time. Imagine the cost of the vet bills for the emergency visit and specialist 🤦🏻‍♀️

Both dogs also needed dental work every 2 years or so as Yorkies are notoriously known for having dental issues with their small mouths. Each dental visit was around $800 to $900 for basic cleaning and some went to $1.5k in the later years when multiple extractions were needed.

Not trying to scare you on getting pet insurance as I still didn't get it with my new Yorkie but it's just understanding how vet bills can easily add up to thousands with each incident. A dog is a huge financial commitment and if you're worried about having to make the decision based on cost, please get insurance or consider putting $100 to $200 a month aside in a savings account to cover future vet bills.
Newbie
Oct 19, 2006
40 posts
24 upvotes
Similar to the another poster, we also used Trupanion for 15 years. Enrolled our puppy at 9 months, the premium was $35. Premium at year 15 was $140.

Our highest bill was about $1500, which Trupanion covered about 80%. Things like fleas meds, vaccines, vet examinations are not covered.

Looking back, I would have put the money away in a savings account. The money you set aside could be used for general preventative care (meds, shots), as well as vet bills if needed.
Deal Expert
User avatar
Jul 5, 2004
25213 posts
4324 upvotes
It's pretty simple. If tomorrow your dog needs a $5000 surgery, can you afford to pay for it? If not, get the insurance. If you can afford to pay for it, then I don't recommend getting it.
Deal Guru
User avatar
Apr 24, 2006
10237 posts
665 upvotes
Mississauga
Can you cancel these plans at any time without a penalty?
Member
User avatar
Dec 3, 2006
370 posts
9 upvotes
Toronto
Tijuana wrote: Can you cancel these plans at any time without a penalty?
yes, but keep in mind if you decide to purchase pet insurance later on, it may not cover pre-existing conditions
Member
User avatar
Dec 3, 2006
370 posts
9 upvotes
Toronto
Shaner wrote: It's pretty simple. If tomorrow your dog needs a $5000 surgery, can you afford to pay for it? If not, get the insurance. If you can afford to pay for it, then I don't recommend getting it.
This. I go up to 10K for surgery depending on your dog's size and breed.

To the OP also take into consideration the breed or breed mixes and what may be common health issues when selecting insurance coverage, ACL surgeries, hip surgeries for some large breed dogs and dachsunds have back issues etc.. I have always purchased insurance and I didn't have health history for a senior rescue dog and a shelter dog. Personally, I don't want money to be the reason why I would hesitate or not go to the vet or to emergency or to have testing (x-rays, ultrasounds etc) done or to manage any health issues. i don't have sticker shock after countless vet appointments, ER visits, specialists visits, medications and testing etc.
Deal Addict
Dec 12, 2009
4401 posts
2061 upvotes
Toronto
d1000 wrote: Similar to the another poster, we also used Trupanion for 15 years. Enrolled our puppy at 9 months, the premium was $35. Premium at year 15 was $140.

Our highest bill was about $1500, which Trupanion covered about 80%. Things like fleas meds, vaccines, vet examinations are not covered.

Looking back, I would have put the money away in a savings account. The money you set aside could be used for general preventative care (meds, shots), as well as vet bills if needed.
To put things into perspective, if the annual increase was taken as a monthly average from $35 to $140 every year, that works out to a $7 increase /month every year.
Add up all the months from 9 months to the end of 14 years and the total paid for insurance was $13,209.

I suggest you talk to your vet and get an idea of annual costs for your pet including euthanasia / cremation then make your decision to self insure.

We self insured by saving or using a LOC. One dog had 3 X ACL surgeries @ ~$3K a pop. The first one failed at 16 weeks the remaining 2 would not have been covered by insurance because they would have been considered preexisting. We also had a chat with the vet about any emergencies and our financial situation. I'm self employed with some months having very high expenses and cash flow fluctuates on when payments come in.
We specifically asked if in an emergency if we could have a week or so to work out finances for a big ticket item. Their response was ... As long as you are keeping up to date on the annual stuff, we can work something out.

Keep in mind that stuff happens on long weekends when your vet is closed and you end up at an emergency clinic. Costs there can add up quickly and payment is on the spot, many times before a procedure is done since you will be a new client.

We self insure knowing the costs and risks.
Following the advice of the Health Experts - I will consider voting for Dougie @ 12:01 AM, five days after the next provincial election.
Deal Addict
User avatar
Apr 30, 2004
3171 posts
681 upvotes
Toronto
I have the same dilemma and the responses here are very helpful!
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Deal Addict
Jul 11, 2010
1159 posts
229 upvotes
Toronto
For our first 5 dogs we did not purchase pet insurance. Our latest one is a Yorkie and the breeder paid for a 3 month trial subscription. We had him home 2 weeks and his front leg was stepped on and a bone broken. Several vets advised to have it pinned after seeing the x-rays. The plan paid 80% and the total was over $10000 so for this time it was well worth it. We had him looked at for another potential problem and they denied the claim. Your personal finances will play a role into whether you purchase a plan or try to save $X per year to pay for treatments.
Member
User avatar
Oct 2, 2018
347 posts
227 upvotes
Toronto
First you should mention breed of pet you own, some breeds have a history of genetic issues and insurance is highly recommended due to average cost of anticipated issues.

Some other breeds like mixed breeds have much less issues by way of potential concerns, doesn't mean they dont have issues but percentage wise are in much better situation so takes a bit more thought on your decision.

I have always had mixed (mutt, humane society) dogs never insurance or any big issues. This last time we wanted something more specific and thought bulldog type, after research and talking to some owners it just wasn't the right choice for us due to potential health concerns. We ended up going mixed breed (havenese, Shitsu) as it was a better choice for us other than a purebred, again may still have issues but better choice in my opinion. Again no insurance, our girl is 3 years old now.

Other option to consider is if presented with a $10k or $5k vet bill would you really lay out that kind of cash? If you would then insurance is a great investment, others would draw the line there.
Sr. Member
Jan 11, 2010
731 posts
107 upvotes
Based on general exp(diff with every breed ofc) would it be better with a low monthly + higher deductible or higher monthly + lower deductible. WIth a higher deductible, any treatment 1000$ and less would almost be majority out of pocket with the deductible, so assuming mainly worth it if tend to run into a treatment running into the thousands? Vs might be better with a higher monthly, low deductible if tend to run into yearly treatments 500-1000$.

Off my calculations, it would take 18 months of treatment free for the savings offset of the low monthly high deductible on 1 treatment vs the opposite.

Also have a rando mix mutt, which I assume can be healthier due to mixed genetics balancing and less chance of being from a inbred puppy mill.
Deal Addict
Jan 17, 2009
2810 posts
2650 upvotes
Toronto, Ontario
Appreciate these replies.

I'm going to be getting a large dog, and financially I can't just drop 5-10k without notice, so looking seriously at the different options. My parents have always had large dogs and I'm well aware of how costly things can get. Neighbours St Bernard puppy fell and broke his hip, 5k+. One of ours at EOL was several thousand just diagnosing that he wasn't going to make it. Another dog was quoted 8k surgery that may have extended her life 2 years or they may have died on the table (ended up having to put her down at vet's recommendation)... Another dog they had had just minor problems and usual stuff. So it all depends and see both sides of the insure vs put it in a savings account argument.

The companies recommended the most seem to be Trupanion and Pet Plan? Any other good ones I'm missing?
Deal Addict
Jan 28, 2014
3383 posts
635 upvotes
Ecsta - What will be the age of your large dog when he get him/her? That will definitely affect the monthly premium and the issue of pre-conditions. If a large breed puppy I would sign up fast.

The one you are missing is the plan offered by the OVMA. You might look at it as well - the "most popular" plan - they offer 3 different plans but the most popular plan is the way to go.

Personally, we preferred Trupanion's method of calculating coverage - one deductible for life per condition . If you do go with Trupanion I suggest you look at the extra coverage and if your vet has it, sign your pup up for it as well. I think that the coupon is only good for 24 hours so you would need some coordination of your vet visit and signing up. Trupanion is not age based so our 17 year old dog was covered at the same rate as when he was a pup but then there are the admin fees etc. that somehow are added each year which frankly did more than quadruple the monthly premium. Apparently the best deductible (or it was, who knows these days) is/was $250.

Living in Toronto though does affect the premiums. We are offered so many options with pet health care and that is considered in the premium. As does the breed of dog. All you can do is consider the cost of say hip dysplasia (and it is a lot - speak with your vet if you have one) and other treatments that your dog may require other than the ones not covered by any plan. Face it, accidents happen at any time and you may not have time to build a bank account.

But most definitely read the fine print. You definitely want a plan that will cover congenital/hereditary diseases.
Deal Addict
Jan 17, 2009
2810 posts
2650 upvotes
Toronto, Ontario
Blanche123 wrote: Ecsta - What will be the age of your large dog when he get him/her? That will definitely affect the monthly premium and the issue of pre-conditions. If a large breed puppy I would sign up fast.

The one you are missing is the plan offered by the OVMA. You might look at it as well - the "most popular" plan - they offer 3 different plans but the most popular plan is the way to go.

Personally, we preferred Trupanion's method of calculating coverage - one deductible for life per condition . If you do go with Trupanion I suggest you look at the extra coverage and if your vet has it, sign your pup up for it as well. I think that the coupon is only good for 24 hours so you would need some coordination of your vet visit and signing up. Trupanion is not age based so our 17 year old dog was covered at the same rate as when he was a pup but then there are the admin fees etc. that somehow are added each year which frankly did more than quadruple the monthly premium. Apparently the best deductible (or it was, who knows these days) is/was $250.

Living in Toronto though does affect the premiums. We are offered so many options with pet health care and that is considered in the premium. As does the breed of dog. All you can do is consider the cost of say hip dysplasia (and it is a lot - speak with your vet if you have one) and other treatments that your dog may require other than the ones not covered by any plan. Face it, accidents happen at any time and you may not have time to build a bank account.

But most definitely read the fine print. You definitely want a plan that will cover congenital/hereditary diseases.
Thanks for the OVMA recommendation, they have 3 plans: Comprehensive, Extended, Unlimited, which one is the most popular? Also I noticed on their unlimited plan they have wellness/dental coverage, which would be useful and would offset some fees that I'd be spending anyways..

Right now we're looking at a Newfounder and we'd be getting him/her around 11 weeks (whenever the breeder wants us to have it haha).. The breeder won't have puppies during lockdown since they won't be able to get a cardiologist out to examine the puppies (supposed to get their hearts checked at 10 weeks as a precaution), so just kind of in a holding pattern. Realistically probably wouldn't be getting him until summer/fall. I had a Newfie when I was a kid and have amazing memories.
Deal Addict
Jan 28, 2014
3383 posts
635 upvotes
Ecsta - Yes, it is the OVMA Unlimited Plan which I decided to call the "most popular". I would definitely enroll a Newfie in pet insurance immediately and would speak with your vet if you have one or a vet about what are the most common ailments in order to make an informed decision. And how much treatment would cost (i.e. hip dysplasia costs a huge amount).

Note though that the OVMA is age based in that as the dog ages your premiums will go up much like human life insurance. Something you might want to consider. Trupanion is not age based except the premiums go up due to number of dogs in your area, the services offered, your postal code, and the breed. Face it, you can't win. This is common with most plans. And, as I mentioned, Toronto is expensive. In our case Trupanion's coverage (formerly VetInsurance) was better in how it was handled because our dog didn't have that many things wrong with him so that our deductible per condition once covered was covered for life, rather than having an annual deductible as well as the co-insurance (we had to pay the co-insurance - 10% - plus our taxes).

On the other hand you would want to consider the exam and the dental coverage dollars being offered by the OVMA. Our dog had very strong teeth but was very inclined to tartar etc. so we had more than a few dentals without coverage - except when he had gum issues - they covered that part but not the whole dental.

Your vet can do a predetermination though of how much would be covered and they are (were?) very fast in replying. These days with Covid though who knows.

We went to our vet for 38 years so had a good relationship with them. I think that it is a good thing that you won't get your pup until the summer or fall due to the pandemic.

Decisions, decisions!

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