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Is Pet Insurance Worth It for a Puppy?

golden Labrador retriever puppy sitting in dog bed looking up

We're sure you have many things planned for the newest family member. Bringing a new pup home comes with fun prospects, from introducing them to your family and friends, going on walks, and teaching them tricks to shopping for treats, and frequent trips to the park. But one thing you should definitely consider is pet insurance.

"My pup is young and just getting started, so why should I get pet insurance?" you might be thinking. Pet insurance protects your pup from the unexpected and younger pets are more likely to experience a whole range of conditions that impact older pets much less. No one wants to think about their new furry friend needing major medical attention, but if something does happen, the last place you wish to be in is a financial bind.

A pup's susceptibility to injuries is no surprise considering how energetic they are. They're prone to mishaps because they're still learning about their environment and the dangers around them. Should your puppy suffer an unexpected injury, pet insurance can protect against veterinary costs for tests, treatments and even surgery.

Why Pet Insurance Matters

Yes, it's another item in your monthly budget, but rather than a financial burden, pet insurance actually protects household budgets from unexpected medical costs if something happens and sometimes those things can be really expensive. The earlier you get pet insurance for dogs, the better it is for them and you.

Dog Parenting Can Be an Expensive Gig

From toys to food, vaccines and everything in between, your pup needs it all. With pet insurance, at least you’ll have less concern over unexpected medical bills added on top of your regular puppy expenses.

You can't claim on your pet insurance to purchase new toys or tasty treats, but many unexpected medical costs (that you would otherwise have to cover without warning) are covered by pet insurance. The average PHI Direct policyholder pays less for their pet insurance but still receives great coverage when a new and unexpected condition emerges (click to get a quote from PHI Direct). Broadly, the cost of pet insurance can be much less than paying for a medical emergency and you have peace-of-mind that your pet is protected. 

Here's what we mean:

Dog parenting shouldn’t be about containing possible medical issues but about allowing your pup to live their life to the fullest. So, instead of spending your savings on medical emergencies when they arise, you can use them to give your pup all the love and attention they deserve like going on trips with them, buying them the best toys, and experiencing life with you as a happy family. Knowing that you have some protection against unforeseen medical situations can be a great way to give your pet the life they deserve, with more protection against financial hiccups.

Accidents Happen Without Warning

Accidents happen, and you can't be there 24/7 to prevent them. The first year of a dog's life can be their most vulnerable, with all the playing and exposure to new things. So, when your furry friend gets injured, it'll be much easier to handle things if you have pet insurance. 

It’s common for dogs to get injured, but it's different when a young and vulnerable pup is involved. Injuries can take many forms, i.e., trauma, broken bones or a wound. Fortunately, pet insurance usually covers these things: Not only can it help with the financial burden of medical costs, but it also takes away some of the emotional stress that comes with an accident.

  • Trauma: Most pet insurance in Canada covers trauma-related visits to the vet. As one example, physical trauma as a direct result of a car accident can be particularly costly regarding medical treatments. For instance, if your pup was hit by a car, surgery could be the only way to save their life. In the worst situations, it can mean the difference between being able to pay for an expensive procedure or risking losing your pup.
  • Broken bones: Like trauma, a broken bone is costly to treat. A pup with a broken bone is a serious condition that may not heal effectively without intervention. A visit to the vet means x-rays, possible surgery and further tests for infection or internal damage. Pet insurance can help with these costs so you can focus on helping your pup heal instead of worrying about how much it'll cost.
  • Wounds: Even minor injuries like a cut or scrape can be painful and expensive. Pet insurance may help to cover costs associated with treating a wound. A young dog can need more veterinary attention than normal, even if it's a small wound since they're prone to infections. 

puppy running outside on grass with white ball in mouth

Pet Insurance for Puppies Could Be More Affordable Than You Think

Pet insurance may seem complex initially, and researching policies is important, but it can be much less expensive than an unexpected medical emergency that significantly impacts your household budget. Plus, some policies offer discounts if you bundle multiple pets on one plan or pay annually. This strategy makes sense if you consider two or more pups joining the family. PHI Direct offers a 5% multi-pet discount for pet owners who insure more than one pet, so the savings can increase for a larger pet family. 

Coverage Caps, Deductibles, and Reimbursements

Understanding your pet insurance policy is critical. Insurance policies have different types of coverage, premiums, coverage caps, deductibles, and reimbursement levels you should consider before signing up. 

The key is determining which coverage best suits your pup's needs, not just now but for their whole life. For example, some pet insurance policies offer 70% reimbursement for treatments while others offer 80% or 90%. The higher the percentage, the more coverage you have for your veterinary bills (albeit prices typically increase in line with the reimbursement percentage).

Any annual coverage cap is another factor to consider as part of your pet insurance policy as it limits how much money you can claim from your provider in a given policy year. Similarly to coverage percentage (see above paragraph), the higher the coverage cap, the more expensive your premiums will be. 

Also, some policies come with a deductible while others don't. A deductible is the amount that is paid out of pocket before your insurance kicks in and starts covering treatments. In Canada, pet insurance deductibles typically range from $50 to $1000. This can be in two different arrangements:

  • Per Condition Deductible: You pay the deductible for each condition until it is met and then your pet insurer starts covering claims beyond this dollar amount. Once the deductible is met on that condition you do not have to pay it again for that same condition (even in future policy years). A good example of this is Trupanion’s pet insurance policy in Canada. 
  • Annual Deductible: Your coverage kicks in once the deductible has been met each year. An annual deductible only has to be met once each year for all conditions affecting the pet (not just per condition). PHI Direct is one example of this type of deductible. 

Don't forget to ask your insurance provider about pre-existing conditions. Such conditions are usually not covered, so see that you know of any exclusions before signing up for a policy. 

When Can You Get Coverage?

Most pet insurers require puppies to enroll in their policies when they have reached at least seven weeks old. By the time your pup reaches seven weeks, they will have had their first few shots and been given other preventive treatments by the vet. 

You will also have to wait for the policy to kick in before you can make any claims. Waiting periods can apply before coverage begins. These vary from one provider to another so always understand the policy before signing up. 

At What Age Should You Stop Insuring Your Pet?

Deciding if or when to stop insuring your pet is a highly personal decision and we at PHI Direct advocate strongly for maintaining a pet’s insurance protection for their entire life. The types of conditions that a pet can experience do change over the course of their life, but the risk of unexpected illnesses and injuries never goes away. PHI Direct’s policy is designed to be more affordable across a pet’s entire life. Be aware that some insurers can raise prices significantly as a pet ages. So, just because the cost looks affordable for a young pet doesn’t mean it will continue to be so. Making the difficult decision to stop insuring a pet when it is older can be heartbreaking and leave them exposed to significant risks associated with older pet health issues, so planning for lifetime protection (and not just a cheap policy when you sign up) can prevent these issues. 

Is Pet Insurance Worth It?

Pet insurance offers protection against new and unexpected financial impacts, and in the case of an unprecedented vet bill, you may find that what you've already paid in premiums is much less than your reimbursement. That's why we have insurance, to provide us with a layer of financial security. Said another way, it can be much easier to find $50 per month than to find $5,000-$10,000 at short notice and our pets can stay healthier and happier. 

Let's take this example:

You've been paying insurance for your dog for a year and a half now at $560 a year, which means you've paid a total of $840 in premiums. One day your pup gets injured, and you need to pay a vet bill of $3000 for the treatment. Your insurance company reimburses you 80%, and you have a $200 deductible, which amounts to a payout of $2200. This means that even after paying the annual premiums, you'd save over $1000 with pet insurance and your pup is protected. 

Without the insurance, the full cost of $3000 may be prohibitive. So yes, pet insurance can be a smart investment if you want to protect both your furry friend and your household budget from unexpected circumstances. 

But if you need more convincing, then ask yourself these questions:

  1. Are you able to pay for vet bills out of pocket, if they run into several thousand dollars?
  2. Can you keep your pup safe from all risks and eventualities?

If the answer is 'no' to any of these questions, investing in pet insurance is a great way to ensure your pet is protected and you have less worry about major financial burdens.

Final Thoughts

Choosing the right insurance plan for your puppy can feel daunting. "Comparison shopping" makes perfect sense at this point. Since this may be your first foray into pet insurance, you should compare different policies to decide which one is most suitable for your pup, and it usually begins with finding the right provider. 

Once you’ve explored some good prospects, check each policy's coverage limits, exclusions and deductible(s) before signing up for it. If you find some provisions in the policy confusing, reach out to the provider directly and ask lots of questions. Pet insurers typically want to pay eligible claims, it’s how insurers show their policyholders that they are there for them and their pets, but the detail in the policy is key. 

If you have questions about PHI Direct’s policy and/or how our coverage works then please reach out to us directly. We’d love to help!