Pet Insurance ?!?

Pets Are Expen$ive

I was inspired by an article written by youngandthrifty.ca about Pet Insurance, to rant about a subject that drives me absolutely spare, Pet Insurance.

Many years ago Vets made their business from large animals on farms (e.g. Cows, Horses, Goats, Llamas, etc., etc., etc.,). If you brought your cat or your dog in, the vet would fix it and charge a fee, but this was not how the Vet made their living, they took care of big animals.

I remember I purchased my first cat at the Kitchener Humane society in 1984 for $10, and then had to get him neutered for another $120, and the only big bill after that was when he fell 8 stories out my apartment window (he lived, but was a little skittish after that), still not too expensive (although I did get a preview of the world to come when I found out it cost $25 to euthanize a hamster that cost $2 to buy).

Cat & Ladders

Why does my cat need insurance?

Fast forward to present day, where there seems to be a new Veterinary Practice opening on every street corner (which suggests this must be a very profitable business). Cats now cost about $125 or so, but usually they are already neutered or sterile in some fashion, but now Vets send you reminder notices about your cat’s check ups, and call you if you don’t follow up with them. The amount of money spent on the upkeep of the family pet is spiralling out of control, so much so, that now PC Financial and others are offering Pet Insurance. This is health insurance for your pet (there are people in the U.S. that don’t have health insurance, yet we Canadians have health insurance for the family cat).

I had no idea how much Pet Insurance actually cost but the YoungAndThrifty.ca article outlines a tremendous cost for this service, which stands to reason when people are spending upwards of $2000 for hip replacement surgery for the family dog.

I decided to check and see the cost and PC Financial’s insurance for a 10 Year Old Tabby, in my area, would be $17 a month for their Value Plan. This is about $200 a year in Pet insurance for my 10 year old cat, which cost $125 to purchase.

Now that people are buying this insurance, the Vets are raising their service fees to reflect this new ability by folks to pay for more interesting and expensive treatments for their pets (my opinion). The spiral keeps spinning up, with no end in sight, so what does this mean? It means there will be families who should seriously be thinking about not having family pets, because the cost of these luxuries (they are luxuries now) are prohibitive to a lot of families struggling to make ends meet.

I care for my family pets, and I am very sad when they pass away or are ill, however, how is it that my Cat can get better health service than I can sometimes? The answer is simple, there is big money involved. I used to think Pet Sematary‘s were the wildest idea ever, Pet Insurance just won that contest.

{ 31 comments }

{ 26 comments… add one }

  • Ethan May 19, 2011, 9:44 AM

    Like any insurance, there are good and bad deals in the pet insurance world. My three cats cost $100/yr each. Fortunately for me, one of the current problems in pet insurance is that the companies aren’t very good at estimating the risks. My cats are indoor/outdoor and often require at least one ~$200 visit a year. That reduces my out-of-pocket expenses for the coverage of any larger items to about $30.

    Reply
  • Susan December 31, 2010, 1:26 AM

    Ok here are my comments on this. When we got our first dog (in 1995) the pet insurance world just started. As a child we had a (probably puppy mill) cocker spaniel who had more health issues than I can even remember. She was my step-fathers dog and he loved her like nothing else. But after each major incident he would say next time he wasn’t Paying for crazy medical fees. But next time he would pay. I remembered that so clearly that I got the insurance so that I would never have to consider not treating the dog. The dog is a Part of the family (not a baby replacement) and the loss would be devastating not only to me but the kids as well. The insurance we had was for major emergencies, nOt ongoing health care. We never used it. So when we got our next dog, the cheap & practical accountant in me figured I should just put the monthly amount in an account and if we needed it there was an emergency fund and if not we would have our money. Quite brilliant I thought. And then our dog had his first and second seizures. The meds to control the seizures cost about $500 per year. We quickly got the insurance set up with the lesson learned that a chronic condition was something we hadn’t even considered. We did change companies with this dog and the plan is different I. That it doesn’t cover x dollars for a particular procedure but rather covers 80% of any non routine procedures. Luckily we had this insurance in place this yeAr when our dog, a chronic sock eater, had to have 3 surgeries. The last one was a bowel resection done at the university of Guelph animal science clinic. Each surgery was about $2500 and were cOvered for almost the full 80% depending on the procedures. While I agree that certain people can be over the top when it comes to pets, in our case our dog is an otherwise healthy 4 year old family pet. Without the insurance it would have been impossible to cover the cost. I don’t understand some peoples strong negative reaction to this topic. You would think that the coverage for this is coming from the public purse with the way some people have commented on this thread. There is a need and there are companies ready to fill it. I am willing to pay the premiums and like all insurance, I may or may not come out ahead in the end. I don’t see why this should upset some people so much. Yes a dog is just a dog and if the difference in spending meant my kids didn’t get proper care then I would not even have to take any time to make a choice but some of the comments here make it sound like a family pet should be flushed like a goldfish in the event of medical need. I made a choice to have a pet and I. That choice I include the cost of insurance. The same choice is made when I buy a car and decide to have comprehensive coverage rather than just collision. Insurance is always a cost-benefit decision and many times the money is ‘thrown away’. But that should always be a part of the purchase decision. In our case we are on the benefit side of the equation this time. And my family is happier for it.

    Reply
  • Joyce September 26, 2010, 1:20 AM

    To some folks, pets are just that, pets. However, my dog is a part of my family and if he’s not feeling well, off to the vet we go. I would never base my dog’s health on money.

    Some of you folks probably don’t understand and that’s ok. I myself don’t understand why folks get all worked up when their kids get sick. What’s the big deal?? All you have to do is shoot out another one!!

    I had a coworker who told me that for the price I paid for my dog’s extensive health issues, I could have bought 20 dogs instead. Well, when her son got sick with cancer, I said the same thing. What’s the big deal? Just go and have another one.

    Reply
  • youngandthrifty August 2, 2010, 6:24 PM

    Also, olderandstillearning, there is someone who spent $1000+ on ANTIPSYCHOTIC MEDICATIONS for her HEDGEHOG!!

    That is out of hand, IMHO. =)

    Reply
  • youngandthrifty August 2, 2010, 6:23 PM

    There’s a link to an explanation of how pet insurance and veterinary medicine has gone out of hand on my post about pet insurance.

    It was super interesting.

    Because people feel more inclined to take their pet to the vet and order tests (because they have pet insurance), veterinary medicine has become BIG business. Vets feel more inclined to order more tests. Specialty vets are cropping up, etc. etc. I suppose you get better care, but you are paying for it too!

    It’s like a vicous cycle with no end in sight!!

    PS yes pet spas are all over the place here in Vancouver. It’s sad. They even have a doggy hotel in Yaletown somewhere (this swank area of Vancouver).

    Reply
  • Pet Vet Middletown July 30, 2010, 1:21 PM

    Animal care is a big responsibility. Every pet animals needs vaccinations at least once per year. Some doctors even recommend vaccinating pets every six months!The vaccines increase the lifetime of pets. Its essential to consult your local veterinary to determine what vaccines your pet might need.

    Reply
  • olderandstilllearning July 21, 2010, 1:30 PM

    Ok, here is my rant on this… forgive me if I digress…..
    I grew up with dogs as a child in a small town and I don’t remember it costing this much for the vet. The walk though the door fee is over $65 now, and I’m sure back then it was around $10- 15. Now putting this into persepctive, maybe that was expensive back then too, so maybe the prices have just gone up like everything else (after all bread was 50 cents then). If your dog just needed a quick look-see because he was limping after stepping on something or something equally minor that didn’t really need a full check-up etc. the local vet, who knew your dog all its life, would often just have you bring it in and either not even charge you, or the fee was minimal. Medications were a lot cheaper then too, and there were less- no heartworm for example.
    Nowadays, it doesnn’t matter what is wrong, you pay that walk through the door fee even if the vet does hardly anything. Heaven forbid if there is something serious… my cockatoo had an allergy attack and I paid over $1000 for his medical care for a 36 hour period, but he recovered and is now almost 30 years old, so I guess it was worth it. Would I have paid that if it was just a budgie ? Probably not,,, most likely the bird would have died before I got it there ( that’s what happened to my previous budgie who was 17 years old). My son had a cat that died on the operating table and the vet still charged him the full costs, saying that he ( the vet) still had to pay his expenses regardless of the fact that the cat died. I think that was wrong… I can’t beleive that those costs weren’t ‘inflated’ to make money… if he had at least bare-boned the costs to his ( the vet’s) true costs that would have been more in keeping with the situation I think, but it appears that those days are in the past.
    Now vet service is a big business. The belief is that if you have a pet you can afford it. Pet insurance is just another side of this ‘ business’. It costs as much or more than human insurance, and when you read the fine print, covers very little in reality. ( After the cat incident we checked it out).

    Most pets rarely get ‘sick enough’ to use the benfits of the more expensive policies, and the cheaper ones don’t even cover the regular medications and annual checkups, so what good are they ?
    If you put $ 20- 25 away every month in an account and saved it up for when you needed to pay that big vet bill you would be further ahead, plus I can virtually guarantee that you would , over the life of your pet, have leftover money to boot. So consider it a savings plan. That makes more sense to me. If you can’t afford to save $ 20 a month, you can’t afford the pet. It’s really that simple!
    If you had a really expensive, rare pet, that had high maintenance costs on a regular basis, it might be worth having the insureace since it might actually get to the point where the costs are well beyond the premium costs, but otherwise I think it is a useless expense.

    Bottom line-don’t get a pet if you can’t afford the maintence, and that includes food, toys, boarding costs, vet fees, annual shots & meds.
    That’s life in today’s society. Until it changes, you need to be realistic.
    Certainly I would never put having a pet before my family’s wellbeing… that’s why when my kids were little we didn’t have a dog or cat, we had different pets at differnt times as they were growing up… from fish, budgies, gerbils, and even a crab and a hedgehog. They were great pets, the kids loved them all, and each had their own charm. They had distinct advantages: a] cheaper to buy, b] cheaper to feed c] basically don’t get sick d] you can learn to care for them yourself when it comes to ‘ maintenance’ such as nail clipping for the budgie etc.
    People often overlook these smaller animals in favour of a dog or cat, which is a shame.

    If you are looking to have a pet, and have some money to spend but not a lot, I personally recommend a budgie. Love it, train it and it will provide you with hours ( years) of pleasure, at a fraction of the cost!
    We love our dog, but I would never give up my birds !
    But then, I guess we can afford them at this stage of our life.

    Reply
  • Mathew July 19, 2010, 1:09 PM

    I looked into pet insurance when I adopted a dog a couple years ago. If I’m not mistaken, the value plans don’t cover many problems, just a list of the 5? most common illnesses. If your pet got in an accident it may not cover that. For that you would need to better insurance, which, I believe maxes out ~$40/month. And on top of that they have a maximum payout of ~$7500.

    It’s crazy, I almost laughed when I was reading it. I’ll take my chances…

    Reply
    • bigcajunman July 19, 2010, 2:01 PM

      I’m sure your pet is hoping you are right as well.

      Reply
  • Window Treatments July 18, 2010, 6:03 AM

    Pet insurance We know you’ll do anything you can, and pay whatever it takes, to keep your pets fit and healthy.

    Reply
  • Sam July 17, 2010, 10:36 PM

    Funny how I was just thinking about just having another child instead of getting a pet when I passed by a pet shop yesterday. I find getting pets ridiculously expensive, especially when actors and actresses started dressing up their pets. I think pets are overrated. I love them, and I wouldn’t want any pet harmed, but I don’t think spending $$$ is practical. :)

    Reply
    • bigcajunman July 17, 2010, 10:44 PM

      Pets are a huge industry now, keep that in mind.

      Reply
  • Go Banking Rates July 16, 2010, 10:46 AM

    So yesterday after reading this post, I spoke to one of my friends about how much it costs her to raise her pet. She actually said that yes it does cost a lot, but there are ways to reduce the costs. For instance, she recommended adopting/rescuing a puppy from a shelter. So many great dogs out there need homes. I’d rather support shelters than breeders. She also said that she goes to non-profit organizations based on donations for her dogs’ needs like vaccinations and very minor surgeries. Often times they’ll ask you to donate a very reasonable price.

    In terms of insurance, I’m not sure how you can lessen those costs but I think that it is an important thing to have.

    Reply
    • bigcajunman July 16, 2010, 10:50 AM

      Maybe, but the cost of small animal care is obscene right now, and you have no way to compare or get a cheaper rate, you must pay what is quoted to you and that just makes me nervous and grouchy.

      Reply
  • Andy R July 15, 2010, 11:56 PM

    The big animals usually had the vet come to them, but the cost of that in relation to the expected return from old Bossy just isn’t there anymore. It is cheaper to shoot and shovel.

    A significant percentage of the veterinarian graduating class is now female. A significant percentage of these don’t want to muck in the barnyard. The big animal people are finding it difficult to even find a vet anymore…but that may be off topic.

    Frankly, there has been a huge philosophical shift regarding the “personhood” of animals. No one in days gone bye would have countenanced hip surgery for the dog when a .22 cartridge was available. Today however many in the DINK crowd think of Fido as the child they never had. They “adopt” animals instead of buying them and they are not animal owners; they are “custodians” or “companions.” With that philosophy, shooting the old dog makes about as much sense as shooting yer grandma!

    Well, if Fifi and Fido are family, the next step will be RESPs for training school and doggy pension plans. Look for it!

    Reply
  • benjamin bankruptcy July 15, 2010, 7:22 PM

    I have 2 adopted dogs and we’re about to adopt a cat. They get their vacinations every year but that’s it. They x breeds so we don’t have the problems that alot of the pure breeds do (hip displasure skin problems etc). We chose “proper” cross breeds (no extra skin, no smooshed in noses, no big heads) I think if animals weren’t bred for reasons of appearance it would be alot cheaper.

    I agree with Michael. I love my dogs but they’re dogs not children

    Reply
  • Go Banking Rates July 15, 2010, 5:22 PM

    Honestly, that’s really why I don’t have a pet. I feel that if I have a dog, I should be able to take care of it from head to paw(haha) so I can’t really afford a pet right now. Not only is there pet insurance but there’s also grooming costs, just maintenance and food.

    Reply
  • Animal Hospital Middletown July 15, 2010, 3:20 PM

    Animal care is a big responsibility. Every pet animals needs vaccinations at least once per year. Some doctors even recommend vaccinating pets every six months!The vaccines increase the lifetime of pets. Its essential to consult your local veterinary to determine what vaccines your pet might need.

    Reply
    • bigcajunman July 15, 2010, 8:50 PM

      Thanks for proving my point, it is this kind of service that is sucking money out of families who can’t afford it at a higher rate than most Vaccuum cleaners!

      Reply
  • Michael James July 15, 2010, 7:34 AM

    Pet insurance makes no sense to me. Insurance is for things that would otherwise devastate you financially. I’m afraid that if things became too expensive, Fluffy isn’t getting that operation. So, no need for pet insurance.

    Reply
    • bigcajunman July 15, 2010, 8:02 AM

      Agreed, I have a love for animals, but devastating a family’s finances because of an animal seems a little odd.

      Reply
  • youngandthrifty July 15, 2010, 2:15 AM

    Hey =) Thanks for including my link!

    Yeah, I agree- the inflation of veterinary expenses has really gone through the roof. I remember a few years back Veterinary Medicine wasnt’ necessarily a lucrative business. Now it’s a whole other ball game.

    Heck, we love our pets so much here, they even have Pet spas opening up on every corner too!

    Reply
    • bigcajunman July 15, 2010, 4:54 AM

      Pet Spas? WTF? Pets are wonderful, my cat is glaring at me right now wanting to be fed, but holy cow this is getting out of hand.

      Reply

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