When it comes to buying pet insurance and dealing with unexpected medical costs, critics argue you are better off self-insuring.
“I don’t believe in pet insurance because I have seen so many clients who have been on the spectrum of the gamut of people who do not benefit from pet insurance,” said Victoria Shroff, a lawyer who specializes in pet litigation and an adjunct law professor at UBC.
Shroff has been practising animal law for close to 20 years and has witnessed clients let down by their pet insurance policies.
“It’s there for you when the sun is shining, the umbrellas are handed to you, but when it rains the umbrellas are taken away,” she said.
“That’s the same situation with pet insurance. People think they’ve got coverage, they go in and they need something done urgently with their animal, particularly older animals, and they’ll find – sorry, preexisting condition. We can’t cover you.”
Instead, Schroff recommends setting aside money every month for a pet emergency.
“Have a specific savings account that you set aside for your animals. Put down $50 to $80 away per month per pet.”
Still, the BC SPCA recommends pet insurance.
“It can help your animal get better care faster and with less stress for you,” Dr. Emilia Gordon of the BC SPCA said. “Typically exclusions fall under a couple of categories. Many times preexisting conditions are excluded. Sometimes breed-related issues are excluded and sometimes it’s for a certain period and sometimes it’s for life.”
When choosing a policy, the North American Pet Health Insurance Association recommends pet owners ask the following questions:
- Does the policy cover genetic conditions?
- What percentage of fees will be reimbursed?
- Does the policy cover vaccines?
- What is the deductible?
- Do your premiums change as your pet ages?
Gordon said consumers should read the fine print of any policy and consult with a veterinarian to help sort through the details. Policies are diverse and monthly premiums and deductibles can vary.
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