Give Me Back My Five Bucks

Changing my mind about pet insurance

After I wrote my blog post earlier this month about if you have pet insurance for your cat or dog, I really started to think about what having insurance meant. My reasons for not getting insurance were because RD and I are excellent savers, I am giving Zoey the highest quality food, and the fact that no insurance company really covers everything (in fact, a lot of them seemed a bit sketchy).

But RD and I continued to talk about insurance. He was willing to spend money on emergencies and vet care should anything arise, but he wanted to have a limit to how much we would spend if she got really, really sick. I totally understood where he was coming from, but I’ve become a bit obsessed with my cat in the month we’ve had her. And I absolutely did not want a limit because I didn’t want to have to make that kind of choice. It would be too hard for me to put a dollar value on an animal’s life (especially one I love). If I had the money to pay for her to get better, I wanted to spend it, no matter the cost. Even if it got out of hand. Which, financially, is not logical. But emotionally, I couldn’t have it any other way. This is my first pet, and she’s had a hard enough life as it is … I didn’t want to potentially have to put her down over $10,000, or a few expensive years of vet bills for ongoing issues, or whatever the amount might be. RD agreed, and we (fairly quickly) changed our minds and ended up buying pet insurance.

It was $292 to insure her for the year (we split the cost). The insurance includes a $250 deductible, $15,000 annual coverage, and 90% reimbursement. None of the online reviews of pet insurance companies were spectacular, but I ended up going with Petplan. It got decent ratings, and came recommended by my cousin (who works at an emergency vet hospital) and a few other friends who had used them and claimed successfully.

It’s interesting how quickly I changed my mind about pet insurance, and I think it was writing the blog post about not getting insurance that tipped me over into wanting to get it. :) I know our rates will go up as she gets older, but right now it’s worth it to me. We might decide later on that it’s not, but I think it’ll just become an annual expense for us. Hopefully we never have to use it, but it gives me the peace of mind knowing that we have it (along with our savings) should anything come up in the future.

Author: Krystal Yee

I’m a personal finance blogger and marketing professional based in Vancouver. I’m a former Toronto Star (Moneyville) columnist, author of The Beginner’s Guide to Saving and Investing, and co-founder of the Canadian Personal Finance Conference. When I’m not working, you can usually find me running, climbing, playing field hockey, or plotting my next adventure.


Comments

  1. I totally understand your attachment to Zoey and how you want to do everything you can to save her.

    I once had a beta fish that died from fungus. I initially set a dollar limit on how much I spent in him but later changed my mind because I desperately wanted to save him. He died, and it took me a while to get over it. :(

  2. Jay says:

    I have a couple of very good friends who are vets. They urged me for a good couple of years to get pet insurance before I finally did. My reasons for not getting it were similar to yours, and it was after a number of horror stories and realizing I didn’t want money to be the deciding factor on what I could or could not do for my dog should a need arise that tipped me over to getting it. My dog is now 6 and it has already paid off in spades. Things happen…we’ve already used our insurance to cover a broken toe (sounds minor but 8 weeks of vet appointments for cast changins and a few xrays and we were well over the deductible!). Yeah, I could have left the broken toe to heal on its own…or my dog could also have gone lame. There are certain things for me that the money discussion isn’t even worth it, and having the insurance means that the question doesn’t come up when it’s valuing the life of my dog vs $$$!

  3. Ms. Raggedly says:

    My then-boyfriend’s mini weenier dog lost the use of his legs and he ended up dishing out thousands in health care and spinal surgery bills. I nursed the pupper for about a month and a half 24/7, and he ended up walking again… it sure is expensive, but I really like your mentality of not wanting to be boxed into a certain ‘amount’. A couple months after the surgery, I was telling the story to a doctor who was stitching up my thumb (bagel accident), and he said, “It is expensive… I have a $5 solution to the problem” – and followed up immediately with, “But we have a dog too, and my kids love him so much I’d pay that much to save him too.” (I was post panic attack, I hate needles, so he was trying to dark humour me I think, but it seems relatable – there’s so much more going on!)

  4. Darrell says:

    Insurance makes perfect sense if you cannot afford treatment in the event of a major emergency. But it sounds like you have plenty of savings and ability to pay in the event of a major emergency, so my question would be: what is the point of the insurance? Sure, it might temporarily set your networth back a little but not enough to justify the cost of the insurance. It’s really for people who don’t have enough savings set aside.

    • Krystal Yee says:

      The point of insurance is because even though we have savings, the thought of draining our savings completely (or using a huge chunk of it) is something that we aren’t sure we are willing to do – especially because vet bills for really big emergencies can be upwards of $10k or even higher in extreme cases. I personally would want to spend every penny we have should something come up, but realistically that’s a much harder decision than just having the money sitting in the bank.

      So for us, the insurance is a way to not have to make those choices. Zoey’s life gets put first, above whatever is in our savings account. Because really, if we self insure and put away $50/month (which is double what we’re paying for insurance) and in 2 or 3 years she has a crazy accident or gets cancer, we would only have $1,800 saved up. Vet bills are crazy expensive and just going to go up. And then what happens if she needs ongoing treatments, or if something comes up a few years in a row? Insurance is a gamble for sure, but for a major worrier like myself it’s for peace of mind. That’s why we have insurance and health care costs for our own lives. To me, it only makes sense to get it for her too. :)

  5. Al says:

    I did not want insurance and told my wife to put the monthly amount in an account for the dog. She went ahead with insurance anyway.

    Good move . My 4 year old dog has had 2 tumour resections and radiation therapy as well as emergency surgery for a rottweler attack and the insurance covered 90% without any hassle at all.if he lives another 10 years we will still be in the black

  6. Emma says:

    Firstly Zoey is just the cutest:)
    I couldn’t agree more with your reasoning behind insurance. We have an older cat and while the insurance has increased a little it has given us a real piece of mind over the years that if something big every occurred it’s taken care of.

    • Krystal Yee says:

      Thanks, we think she’s the cutest too! :) Can I ask how much your insurance has increased over the years? That’s one thing I’m a bit wary about.

  7. Jan says:

    My experience with pet insurance was the opposite of many of the above stories. I chose a trusted / vet suggested insurance for the first year of owning my dog, and in that time she had a number of random, small-ish issues, totalling over $2000 in costs. No, not the worst-case-scenario, but a squeeze. But because there were separate issues (didn’t meet the deductible minimum which was based on a single illness or injury not a cumulative total) and/or exclusion from the policy (‘vet fees’, for example), absolutely $0 of this cost was covered by insurance, PLUS I had paid close to $500 for the annual policy. 25% premium for vet care? No thank you. Is it worth it to buy coverage that only covers worst-case-scenario? Please: I have better odds at the casino. Since that time I’ve become self insured and put the equivalent $ that I would spend on the policy into a vet fund for my dog… far better value. The best part is that *I* now decide what gets covered by that fund, not the insurance company.

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