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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.

Do you have pet insurance?

When we first talked about getting a cat, RD and I were pretty much both on the same page when it came to pet insurance – we didn’t need it. He grew up in a house that always had a cat, and his parents never bought insurance. My sister has had two cats, and she also hasn’t bought insurance.

So it was settled! No insurance. But once we got our little furball home, I started to do my own research into pet insurance when I got paranoid about every little thing that seemed off, and all of a sudden I wasn’t so sure. After all, we have insurance for our own lives, for our condo, for our car, doesn’t it make sense to also insure the newest member of our family?

How pet insurance works

Like insurance for your own health, pet insurance will help you with some of the costs of keeping your pet healthy. There are quite a few different companies, levels of coverage, deductible amounts, and monthly premiums.

And then figuring out what you’re actually covered for can be really confusing. Some plans only cover basic scenarios (like accidents and injuries), some only cover accidents, some cover genetic conditions, and some even cover teeth cleaning and vet check-ups.

Most plans have a deductible (the three companies I looked at had annual deductibles of $200-250), and many of the insurance plans do not fully cover your expenses. Some have a dollar limit per claim, others will pay you back a percentage of the total cost, and almost all of them require you to pay up front, and receive reimbursement afterwards.

How much does pet insurance cost?

I got quotes from 3 different companies, and the price ranged from $28-$42/month for a 3 year old female Siamese mixed on plans with around a $200 deductible, 80% coverage (up to $2,500-5,000 per incident).

I was able to get my insurance quote to as low as $21 by getting rid of dental coverage and lowering cover to $1,000 per incident. For fully loaded insurance packages, I was looking in the $65-70 range, which would then start to affect my monthly budget.

Pet emergency fund

Most people who offered alternative options to pet insurance advised me to self-insure by setting aside the money I would have spent on insurance, into some sort of pet emergency fund. Thankfully we are good savers, but it would take quite a while to “save up” for a crazy $5,000 vet bill if we were only putting aside $50/month. But then again, a vet bill like that doesn’t happen to most people.

Is pet insurance worth it?

Well it’s probably worth it if you use it, but a waste of money if you don’t. :) I decided against getting pet insurance for Zoey based on a couple of key factors:

  1. We are good savers with a healthy joint savings account (as well as our own personal savings).
  2. Zoey will be fed high quality food and will always be an indoor cat.
  3. No insurance company I found covers all of the costs. For example, the quote I got from Petsecure ($28.57/month) offered a $200 deductible, and 80% coverage up to a maximum of $2,500 per accident. So for that $5,000 vet bill, I’d still be out of pocket $2,700 plus all of the monthly premiums I’ve paid. And that’s only if I were covered for the full 80% (the fine print reads that co-pay amounts may be changed from the standard 20% to a maximum of 50%). That made it really hard to justify.

However, if you do end up wanting to set up pet insurance for your little one, it’s best to start early. Get your pet insurance sooner rather than later, because the older your pet gets, the more expensive the monthly premiums will be. Plus, there’ll be a much higher chance that you wouldn’t even get coverage because your illnesses could be “pre-existing.”

Do you have pet insurance (and would you recommend it)?

Have you ever had to make a claim?

Hello, please meet Zoey!

It has been a long time since I’ve been able to set aside some time to write on this blog. I had such good intentions of posting while we were on vacation, but near the beginning of the trip I lost my MacBook Pro power cord, and then decided to suffer without a computer until we got back to Vancouver. And then when we got back, we ended up adopting the most adorable cat and I lost track of time. I know, excuses, excuses. :)

First, I want to introduce you to the newest member of our family, and tomorrow I’ll have my September Goals recap.

This beautiful girl is named Zoey, and we got her from the SPCA last week. She is approximately 3 years old, and came to the shelter as a stray – so we don’t know anything about her past. We originally went to the Maple Ridge branch of the SPCA because we were interested in a couple of other cats, but ended up falling in love with Zoey.

She was super frightened at the shelter, and wouldn’t come out of her cage. Eventually we were able to feed her a couple of treats, but we didn’t see more than her small little head poking out of the blankets. We decided to put in an application for her anyway because I had already fallen in love, and two days later she became ours. She was so scared during the car ride home, so when we got her to the condo I was really surprised that she just walked out of her carrier and started to explore our bedroom (which we used as her safe room for the first two days we had her). She was very timid and frightened of every new noise, and would constantly hide under the blankets or cower in a corner if she felt scared. She barely ate the first few days, and the look of horror on her face when she realized we were putting her back in her carrier for a vet visit – well that was pretty heartbreaking.

Five days later, she now has access to the entire condo and she has also made huge improvements. She can be ridiculously affectionate at times, but like any other cat, she has her grumpy moments. But she is never aggressive, never scratches or hisses, and really doesn’t make much sound at all. She’s also eating better too, but there’s still a lot of work to do. Based on what we’ve seen (not that we’re experts or anything), we think that she was a house cat at some point, and then ended up on the streets as a stray. The vet told us that she’s in good health, but needs to gain some weight. We’ll also have to take her into get some shots later this month.

I thought I knew how much start-up costs would be for our cat, but I underestimated for sure. Here’s how much we’ve spent so far:

  • $205.00 – adoption fee from SPCA (includes a free check-up with a vet).
  • $236.75 – initial cost of cat stuff (litter box, litter, litter locker, wet and dry food, food dishes, a couple of toys, cat bed, brush, treats, fish oil, and a scratching post).
  • $15.75 – pain medication after being spayed.

Moving forward, I anticipate her monthly costs to be around $50-60/month for her food, litter, and treats. This will come out of our shared household budget. I’m still trying to figure out which food she likes the best (the pet store near our house gave me a ton of samples to try out), and what the most cost-effective (and convenient) way would be to get her ongoing supplies. I think it’s Amazon, but I could be wrong?

Anyway, I’ll try really hard not to turn my blog and social media accounts into one big catfest, but no promises. :)

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