Pet Insurance – Lottery or just Scam?

Do not purchase pet insurance policy! Never! Neither for a dog nor for a cat! From any pet insurance company!

You will get much better coverage and pleasant customer service if you will be putting the same premium each month into your saving account. And you will not be paying taxes to the government for your premium!

This conclusion is based on many reviews, complaints and experience of pet insurance consumers.

Here is the main reason why you should avoid any pet insurance company:

  • You will NOT receive more money from pet insurance company than you have already paid in premiums!

It is a matter of luck if you will be reimbursed after your first claim. Purchasing pet insurance is the same as participating in the lottery. The higher prize – the less probability to win. The higher claim is – the less probability to get a cheque from insurance company you have.

When you play lottery, you know that there is a high risk not to win anything, or win less than the lottery tickets cost. Most of the conscious people know this. It is impossible to earn money in the long perspective playing lottery. People play for fun, for adrenaline, to spend time, etc. Not for earning! However there are definitely some people who believe that they can earn money in this way.

But health insurance is not for fun! Pet owners want insurance for their pets in order to avoid financial surprises (high unexpected expenditures) in the future. Unfortunately pet insurance companies can not provide it at all, but they promise to provide it! It is a scam. Pet insurance companies just earn their income and leave tons of claims refused and unpaid with some weird explanations, or just without any explanations. It is indeed scam like many others on the internet promising excellent quality of the product and “30 days money back guarantee” hiding conditions on the N-th page of the “terms and conditions” in the fine print section.

Some pet insurance companies make excuses by blaming customers who do not read fine print. I’ve read fine prints of several insurance companies, and according to the statements, any claim can be refused! Why should anyone purchase pet insurance in this case? It is very unfair way of doing business.

Facts which have been discovered during research of customers complaints and additional investigation:

  • Each claim significantly increases your mandatory minimum co-insurance rate. That is instead of initial 80% which insurance company promised to reimburse you, they may start to promise only 40-50% after the first claim. In fact, in most cases pet insurance companies reimburse you much less than the promised amount.
  • As long as you do not make any claims and paying premium, you feel peace of mind (as insurance sellers tell you), because you think that your pet is insured and the company will reimburse you all the expenses according to the bill from veterinary.  As soon as you try to make the first claim, a war with the insurance company begins.
  • Deductible is being increased depending on the pet’s age. Even if they tell that deductible does not depend on your dog’s/cat’s age in advertisements – it is incorrect and they are just misleading customers.
  • Pet insurance companies usually agree to pay only amounts which are very close to your deductible, making your insurance absolutely useless.
  • Unknown Illness” is never mentioned in the “Terms and Conditions”, but is used by pet insurance companies in order to avoid payment to you. If your case does not fall with 100% under one of the covered expenses, so it falls under “unknown illness”. They require 100% proof, even if it is impossible to get in most of the cases.

So, the benefits of saving the same amount on your designated account (can be “tax-free”, or even some investment account) instead of wasting money by paying premium to any of the pet insurance companies:

  • Save at least applicable taxes on premium
  • Get 100% claim approval
  • No financial surprises
  • Avoid endless, repeated calls to the insurance company pleading your case
  • Genuine peace of mind!


Western Financial Insurance Company

It is the biggest insurer in Canada. It includes the following brands:

This is a screenshot from Western Financial Insurance Website:

Western Pet Insurance Product Line

They have different websites and logos, but all of them are the same! Just different brands. Even the claim form is absolutely the same for all the products:

Western Financial Insurance Company – Veterinary Fee Claim Form

They have the same customer service telephone number for claims: 1-800-581-0580

and the same address:

200-1200 Portage Avenue

Winnipeg, Manitoba R3G 0T5

Tel: 1-800-431-3132

Fax: 1-866-322-5246

Email: info@westernfic.com

However, they have different ratings in some pet insurance online comparison websites. For example, “PC Financial” is rated much worse than “Petsecure”, although they are the same. “Petsecure” brand belogns to Western Financial Insurance Company itself, but “PC Financial” belongs to President’s Choice Financial. The first company pays to PC Financial approximately 20% of the revenue obtained by selling pet health insurance with “PC Financial” brand. So, Western Financial is very interested in switching customers from “PC Financial” to “Petsecure”.

This is an excerpt from PC Financial Website:

PC Financial Insurance Agency Inc.

For pet insurance, we earn a percentage of premium when a new policy is sold or an existing policy is renewed. Based on the financial performance of the policies we have sold, we also earn additional compensation.

It looks like there is a kind of monopoly on the Canadian market of pet health insurance. People across Canada think there are at least 6 different insurance providers: Petsecure, PurinaCare, PC Financial, CAA, HBC, PetFirst. But all of them are regulated by the same company and even operated by the same customer service centre!

If you still consider wasting money on any of those pet health insurance policies, please read further. We will go through the terms and conditions and see what is actually covered by the plan.

Let’s choose PC Financial Pet Health Insurance as a reference because Trueler already had some experience with it.


PC Financial Pet Health Insurance

They offer four plans with the following prices and coverage:

  • Accident Plan – $11/month + tax. $1500 per incident, no illnesses
  • Value Plan – $26/month + tax. $2000 per incident, $2000 per selected illness over the pet’s entire lifetime
  • Choice Plan – $43/month + tax. $2500 per incident or illness per year
  • Ultra Plan – $54.25/month + tax. Same as above, but with $5000 limit

Here is the policy in PDF format: PC Financial Pets Insurance Policy

Some of the items in policy to pay attention to and why you should avoid any pet health insurance:

  • “All insurance Coverages provided are subject to Co-insurance and any applicable Deductible”. Deductible is up to $500. Co-insurance is starting from 20%
  • We won’t cover accidents arising from the pet’s known behavioural problem“. Any accident may be easily “fallen” under this by professional insurance representatives. For example, digging into garbage and swallowing something, crossing the road and being hit by car, etc…
  • We won’t cover soft tissue or muscle inflammation developed through a pet’s normal activities such as jumping, running, slipping, tripping or playing“. Nonsense! It is a pet’s life!
  • We won’t cover treatment for arthritis (except for Dogs under the Value Plan) and/or degenerative joint problems“. In other words, there is absolutely no chance to get any reimbursement for any joint problem.
  • We won’t cover illnesses developed by drinking contaminated/stagnant water“. Don’t allow your pet to drink from anywhere!?
  • We won’t cover any consequential damage as a result of any Accident (for example: future Treatment(s) for liver damage as a result of poisoning)”
  • A lot of others “we won’t cover” in the policy like “eye problems“, “ear problems“, “Gastric dilation or torsion”, “cataracts as a result of diabetes”, “Digestive problems
  • Most of behavioural therapies are not covered
  • Death benefits are not applied to “any dog aged 8 years or over; any cat aged 10 years or over”. It must be verified by your veterinarian.
  • “We will not pay for the cost of flea control”
  • “We will not pay for any dentistry costs except those directly related, and not secondary, to an Accident”. According to reviews, any dentistry costs are usually not reimbursed by pet insurance companies!
  • “We will not pay for the cost of treating an Illness, Accident or Condition deliberately caused by You or anyone living with You”. Again, pet insurance representatives can easily show that illness or accident is caused by you and not pay for your claim.
  • “We will not pay the costs resulting from pregnancy”
  • “We reserve the right to restrict Veterinary Service costs to an amount no greater than the amount specified by the fee guide applicable in Your province of residence”. We will only pay for fees that are considered reasonable and customary”. They won’t pay for your veterinary bill! There is no such guide available anywhere in free access!
  • “You agree that any veterinarian has Your permission to release any information We ask for about Your pet. If the veterinarian charges for this, You will be responsible for the cost“.
  • All the applicable laws must be obeyed and recommended treatments must be done with your pet in order to be considered for reimbursement of your claim.
  • “If You have any legal rights against another person in relation to Your claim, We may take legal action against them in Your name at Our cost. You must provide all documents and assistance, including attendance at examinations for discovery and trial that We request”. Pet insurance steals the right to sue another person or organization and will get all the compensation!
  • We will not pay for Illness, Injury or Condition caused by war activities, nuclear explosion, contamination by radioactive material, etc.
  • Very long waiting periods: 2 days for accidents and 3 weeks for illnesses.
  • “Co-insurance is applied first, then there is a Deductible“. So, you pay co-insurance on deductible as well!
  • Coverage and premium are subject to individual adjustments“. Premium and co-insurance rate will rise up significantly after the first claim, so the insurance will become useless.
  • Exclusions: “The length of symptom-free time required is a minimum of 6 months to a year

Do you still believe that your first claim will be successful even with Ultra Plan which costs $54.25/month + tax?

If you put $60/month on your saving account for emergency case, you will save $2160 every three years! It is a cost of a serious treatment.

We wish you, your family and your loved pets all the best!

Be healthy and spend your savings on something joyful!

39 thoughts on “Pet Insurance – Lottery or just Scam?”

  1. My claim of $7800 for emergency pet surgery was just rejected. My 7 month old West Highland White Terrier was rushed to emergency on Feb 15 while suffering septic shock from a bacterial infection. The infection attacked her uterus (Pyrometra) and spread to her abdominal cavity. If she did not have the surgery and a plasma transfusion, with 3 days in the hospital, she would have died. The Pet Insurance company stated that it was her “reproductive system” that caused the illness. I argued that it was the bacteria infection and it doesn’t matter where it strikes. They refused to honour my claim. Both my vet and the breeder are totally shocked at this. I am also reporting this to the Canadian Kennel Club.

    I really feel this is a scam. The Insurance company is so nice and helpful to you when things are fine but as soon as you need to call on them for the exact reason they sell themselves they say “Too bad, it is not covered in the policy!” Reproductive systems, spaying/neutering are not covered by insurance. Fair enough, I was not expecting to be paid for the hysterectomy the vet had to perform, but the vet had to clean all the bacteria out from other areas of the pups system.

    Another person I talked to at the dog park said she ran into the same issue. When her dog’s back leg needed surgery, they refused to pay as they stated that the damage was caused by a toe nail that had some surgery a year prior, thus a precondition!

  2. I disagree, I use Trupanion for my dog. She has had to have 2 surgries on her eyes and one was from an eye specialist. I was able to get direct billing to the clinic. The vet sent in an estimate lowest to highest amount. File was opened and approved within 48 hours so I only had to pay my portion. Early last year she started squinting her eyes and ended up taking her to er vet. She had an eye ulcer caused by a dry eye condition which she needs drops for the rest of her life. When I took her home and gave her the meds and drops to clear up the ulcr and inflamation I had given her an accidential overdose and rushed her right back. Trupanion were wonderful considering I was the one at fault, but the vet had talked to them personally andhad explained how I had to rush my Mom, who has cancer, and was unresponsive to the er a couple of nights before and had no sleep for over 50 hours do to the fact that it was a serious matter and could have ended her life. Being the only one of the family that was able to communicate how she had been and know what doctors were talking about (my Dad doesn’t know how to talk about medicial situations). The vet explained how it happens often to other people but due to the lack of sleep and stress on my part that it was more than understandable and had mentioned that I had realized as soon as it happened and got her to the clinic tTrupanion were more than eager to help in any way they could even calling me personally to see how my dog and Mom were doing and asked if there was anything I needed to let them know. Now when I purchase my dog’s eye drops the claim is started right away and within 3 to 4 days I receive a cheque for their portion of the bill. My dog had to stay in the hospital for 4 days and all I had to pay was my portion which otherwise I would not have had the savings to pay for this stay even though I had a little amount of money saved for emergencies of all kinds. My dog will be on drops the rest of her life and she is only 6 so I found that without having insurance I may have had to make a horrible decision.

  3. @Janice: impossible to believe. Could you provide some proofs please? They didn’t pay me anything for the case which is printed as covered in their contract.

    Thanks,
    Trueler

  4. I disagree strongly with this article. I have been with Pet Secure for years and they have paid out about $35,000 for my claims for my cats. I know there is no way if I put the amount I pay in premiums in a special account that it would stay there. There are always non-pet related emergencies that come up and that money would end up being used not for my pets. Pet Secure pays quickly. Even if the cost of vet care equals the premiums you never know when you will be charged $2,000 for a vet bill and it is comforting to know that I do not have to come up with that money because I have insurance. If you are going to get insurance, get it when your pet is very young so there are no pre-existing conditions.

  5. Petsecure is a royal joke. Our five year old cat got a viral infection in his lungs and petsecure claimed it was a previous underlying condition. Please my wife and I are not idiots! After that they added under exclusions “Any illness of unknown origin” well that covers their butts six ways to Saturday doesnt it? Well shortly thereafter Marty got really sick and bill was about 5200 dollars we had the Vets write scathing letters and they coughed up 1000 dollars… We cancelled the policy shortly after. Dont waste your money with this company as they care more about money than peoples pets. (To most they are family members)

  6. While it’s true that some pet insurance companies do not provide good coverage or good claims, it’s irresponsible to simply tell everyone to not even consider it.

    The key is to do your homework, get a copy of the actual policy (NOT the brochure) and make sure you understand not only what is covered, but what is NOT covered.

    Be sure to see if there are any “caps” (limits) in either lifetime, annual or even incident coverage. I’ve seen some policies claim to cover cancer, but then limit that coverage to just $4,000.

    Some policies do not cover “routine” visits or the fee for the actual office visit. However, if you can’t afford routine visits for your pet, you probably shouldn’t have a pet in the first place.

    Several years ago, I began to research some pet insurance carriers for my dogs and I immediately noticed a huge disparity in coverage in many of them.

    I finally settled on Trupanion. While they do not cover routine things nor office fees, they also do not assign any caps for covered procedures. I checked to make sure they covered cancer and hip dysplasia. At that time, they did not cover stem-cell therapy as part of their base policy, so I paid a few extra bucks for an option that included it along with other pertinent features. I passed on the option to cover boarding the dogs if I’m in the hospital.

    At that time, I had three dogs, one was 10 1/2, one was about 9 1/2 and one was about 2 1/2. You can choose your deductible from $0 to $1,000 per incident and in order to keep the premium around $100/month, I chose a $750 deductible.

    Six months later, my then 11 year-old became ill and after a month or so, we were referred to a regional high-end facility for a CAT-Scan and other tests. As you can imagine, these weren’t cheap, but because I used their own pre-approval form in advance, they paid like a champ (less my portion, of course).

    It’s worth noting that pet insurance companies typical do their medical underwriting retroactively. In other words, only when you make that first claim do they ask for medical records.

    This could be a huge burden if you’re in an emergent situation, so I had already had all of my girls’ records sent to Trupanion to offset any notion that ANY claim would be for a pre-existing condition.

    Unfortunately, in spite of our best efforts, the 11 year-old died. I then dropped the deductibles on the remaining girls down to $500 and that turned out to be a very good move on my part.

    In February, I was back in that same high-end facility for dental surgery for my now oldest. I already knew that a lot of dental is not covered, but again – because I did everything by the book, roughly $2,000 of the $3,000 was paid by Trupanion and that included my $500 deductible and office fees!

    She was also having a persistent UTI which was later diagnosed as being caused by TCC (Transitional Cell Carcinoma) and scoping revealed tumors in her urethra.

    We started her chemo that same day, as well as her now daily regiment of Piroxicam. So far, Trupanion has paid well and on those occasions when I felt they had overlooked something, I was able to appeal and have them pay some more.

    For the past week, I’ve been trying to get a doctor in NJ to perform his Ultrasound Guided Endoscopic Laser Ablation to help reduce the tumors in the urethra. After seeing the ultrasounds and the photos from the scoping, he has informed me that my girl is a candidate.

    However, he wants $9,000 for this procedure (including 4 nights of post-op hospitalization) and we (myself, the facility here AND Trupanion) are close to convincing his facility to accept payment direct from Trupanion, as I simply cannot afford to “front” THAT kind of cash. Besides, we live over 600 miles away and I’ll probably also have to take a week off from work to make the trip.

    I believe we will succeed and that my girl will soon be getting the treatment she needs.

    It’s worth mentioning that while companies such as Trupanion offer vets the option of being paid direct, with the client paying the deductible and coinsurance, it’s completely up to that facility if they will accept it.

    The facility down here said “no”, but I was persistent. Because of how well it went, they now not only accept Trupanion, but they actively encourage their clients to buy coverage so they can better afford their services! This is crucial because in many cases, having to front the money and then wait for reimbursement could mean the difference between your pet having the treatment or not. Sometimes, you just don’t have that much cash OR credit.

    Another thing; Trupanion has a “per-incident” deductible, rather than an “annual” one. This means that it’s possible you could incur more than one deductible in one calendar year. I have done that myself this year.

    However, that deductible is for life. Which means, should my girl need additional treatment for her cancer, even a year or two from now, there will be no addition deductible to satisfy; only my 10% coinsurance.

    I’ve heard good things about one or two other carriers (Embrace, for instance), but since my own personal experience has been with Trupanion, I can only speak to how THEY have worked with me.

    My advice is to not let bad experiences with one carrier (or reports of them) sour you on the entire notion of insuring your pet. Trust me – you will not put enough aside to cover a $5,000 – $10,000 vet bill and even if you do, other things often come up that will temp you to crack open that little “piggy bank”.

    Oh, and I’m getting my first rate increase from Trupanion in over two years. It’s going up a whole 7%; from $94.45 to $101.02 – a whopping $6.57 a month! I could almost subscribe to Hulu for that.

    David

  7. I have to disagree with this article.
    I have an insurance so I will never have to make a life threatening financial decision. Imagine you have a car accident, and your dog needs emergency cares. Or imagine a 6 years old dog diagnosed with cancer or needing a hip surgery, where treatments can costs a few thousands for a few days…I am able to pay for my “day to day” vet visits and preventive cares, so I have a high deductible. I wouldn’t want to be in a vet’s office, wondering if my dog is worth the debts.

  8. We changed from CAA pet insurance to OSPCA insurance a year ago. We have 2 dogs. One recently became quite ill. We made a claim. We have never had a claim on her with either carrier. Just trying to coordinate getting info from our vet to OSPCA has been a nightmare. We received a letter from them stating they had not received a detailed receipt of particulars of care given the dog for treatment. We supplied it. On a whim I decided to call to make sure everything was now a go to have the claim processed and found out they were missing a signature. Called the vets office again. Checked back with OSPCA because I had become paranoid as the date of “We no longer think you want this claim taken care of” was approaching.
    It took 21/2 weeks for the rejection letter to reach us. I could drive to their office in an hour from where I live.
    On the third phone call I was informed that they needed the dog’s health record. I called the vet’s office again. I spoke directed to the person who was sending the info. She had emailed all of the information required when the bill was paid. I made a 4th call to OSPCA and was told that they had a very limited capacity for email receipt and this was likely the problem. It had been rejected. I called the vet’s office and they sent everything again by fax. I called OSPCA yet again and asked to speak to a supervisor. None of course was available and that was 3 days ago. The person on the phone reassured me she was able to deal with a complaint. All I got out of this call were several sugary, “I am so sorries.” I told her this was not good enough. Certainly, there had to be a better system of communication than what we were experiencing. I got a couple of “oh wells” too. I was also informed in that call that I could now start the wait for getting (or not) the payment. I would also like to point out that when OSPCA sent our letter of rejection that they enclosed one destined for another customer. I did call the same day and gave the particulars to their customer service at OSPAC. Also there has been a mistake on our registration document with OSPCA. They have the wrong surname for the emergency contact. I have called OSPCA 3 times and asked for it to be corrected and be sent a new document. I have given up. I have 2 copies with the incorrect name and one that did not have the name on it all. I should have known at that time that it was going to be a battle. You have called it a Lottery. I wish. If and when we get anything back we are so out of there!!!!!! Please note the number of times that put the name OSPCA in this post. Would not want anyone looking for coverage to make the same mistake we did. We have started an account for health coverage.

  9. @Stephen Roy: You’ve probably been luckily chosen for advertisement of insurance company ;) Doesn’t look like a real story at all…

    Thanks,
    Trueler

  10. I have to disagree on this article.
    We’ve had 4 dogs over the last 20 Years. Our first dog was very sick and was involved with many vet visits to keep him alive for the first 5 years of his life. He lived tpo a ripe old age of 15. The Insurance never balked at any of our claims. This was 20 years ago. Last November our dog had to go through Cancer treatment. The bill came to a little over $10,000. When we first started this claim we were with PetCare. Our policy only covered $3000. When speaking with The Insurance rep on the phone he informed us that we could switch our coverage to OSPCA Insurance which is a division of PetCare I believe. When we pressed him on the fact that this was a pre existing condition he said it would be OK. True to his word The OSPCAI covered the balance. We are now going through our dog having a collapsed lung which has now been repaired and she’s doing fine. This to was a little over $10,000. The Insurance company has not balked and are processing our claim. Basically I have recovered enough money from them to cover 5 to 6 dogs. My only complaint would be that they do take a little bit of time to process the Claims.

  11. Hi Grace,

    I would start keeping supposed premiums on a saving account. You will not have to spend a lot of time and effort later to get even a portion of it in case something happens. There are people working in those insurance companies who are trained to refuse any claim. This is the first thing insurance company is trying to do – refuse a claim. Remember that. They’ll be also pushing to buy it very hard assuring that you will be covered for sure.

    Regards,
    Trueler

  12. Tatiana, I was just speaking to OSPCA today…I am adopting a dog and looking for a good insurance company,
    the plan you are referring to sounded good to me too, high premiums but lots of coverage…but now, I after I saw your email…I think I will shop somewhere else..

  13. I have three dogs and one, 1.5 Black Russian Terrier last month was diagnosed with cancer. I paid already over $4,000 for her diagnostics and chemo.
    So, I decided to look for insurance for two others.
    And beware! When you are talking to sales representative, don’t believe a word unless you have a copy of policy sample and you verify every word said.
    OSPCA insurance was the best, I thought, covering everything for a quite high premium and after talking to a sales rep I signed and paid first payment but after I told my vet about it, the vet said that it’s too good to be true and I found terms and conditions on OSPCA web site and then I realized that I was duped: They take dogs in-tact to cover but their policy does not cover all reproductive system illnesses if dogs develop them later in their life. Also wellness coverage started now but reimbursable after 6 months after start day of your policy. And who knows what else I did not get correctly?
    A good thing was when I requested to talk to supervisor, a supervisor called next day, was grateful for my feedback, was going to review my initial call, and basically said it was my responsibility to verify information provided by sales rep. Exactly ” that is why we are given you time to review terms and conditions after you enrolled”
    I wonder what should I do now?
    I want to have assurance that if needed I have coverage for large expenses, but I can’t trust insurance now .

  14. @Bobby: How about to provide a copy of claim and payment for everybody here?

    PS: my dog had problems which are obviously covered, but they let us down and didn’t pay a penny…

    Thanks,
    Trueler

  15. I’m sorry but you are wrong about this pet insurance stuff…I have been a member with petsecure for 6+ years

    so here is my example of what it has cost me since I can only access from 2008 that’s 60$/month = 12monthsx60$x6years = 4320$ what it has cost me for pet insurance…they have paid me back an amount of 6700$ seems to me I got more then what I have paid monthly…so obviously theirs no scam. If your pet has problems your save money.

    Its the same as car insurance…if you pay 1000$ and never get into an accident where is your return? are car insurances a scam as well?

    An insurance is for IF something happens!!!

  16. Think about it.
    The world is full of scammers.
    Let’s review and list some, not necessarily in any particular order.
    Remember when car salesmen topped the list.
    Then there’s real estate sales.
    Dentists, Chiropractors, Eye care specialists, Lawyers, Politicians, Veterinarians, Home builders, renovators and contractors, and the list goes on and on.
    All levels of government scam us.
    Public/private insurance, WCB etc., etc.
    Now, there is only one person that can prevent you from being scammed.
    YOU!
    So don’t be fooled. Do your homework before getting scammed.
    I’ve been a pet owner multiple times and have had several live full lives.
    A couple developed conditions that even with treatment, offered NO guarantees.
    The needle was cheaper.
    I care about my pets and they are spoiled.
    But you have to know when to draw the line in the sand.
    They won’t hate you. You might feel guilty, but YOU are doing the “right thing”
    Scamming is a disease.
    Don’t catch it!

  17. $20,000 bill? Are you f’ing kidding me?

    Take those premiums and blow it out your arse!
    If you are unfortunate enough to have an ill pet – these astronomical vet. fees these days are just not worth it at all.
    Many Vets are in league with both pet food manufacturers and pet insurance companies.
    Think about it…from the veterinarians point of view, if a client has pet insurance, he or she will more likely take their pet to the clinic for assessment. The problem though, is that you have to pay first and then submit the claim and cross your fingers that the issue will be covered and many people are left footing the bill themselves. Had he or she known that Fido or Fifi’s expenses would not be covered, they may just decide to put the dog/cat down, rather than dropping 5/10/20k on a dog or cat. That’s ridiculous people, just ridiculous. Based on the overwhelming negative reviews on multiple websites, it’s just not worth the time or aggravation dealing with pet insurance.

  18. This is a very extremely biased and closed minded view on pet insurance. Our 10 month old irish wolfhound was diagnosed with a genetic disorder and our pet insurance saved us $20,000 and we had only paid $400 (4 months worth) of premiums up to that point. Simply put, it saved our dogs life.

  19. We own a male German shepherd and can only give examples of our own dog. But I agree and if you can avoid using pet insurance I would. $35 a month + pay first $800 means we can virtually claim nothing each year. On top of that we were scammed by Pet Care in 2010 when we moved 15k up the road to a different location and were told the claim year started again as we had moved home. In the UK we had a similar plan and had to take out a new insurance when we came to Canada. But between the Vets bills and the insurance rip offs, they have made dog ownership a misery. the last Vets bill was $40 for a consultation and told me nothing I could not have found on the internet.

    Certainly would shop around, do your homework and think long and hard about insurance companies.

  20. The only annoying thing about PetCare is that it takes over a month to get your money back if you have a large claim (I had two separate claims, about a year apart, with $5 to $6k per claim). those times unfortunately you don’t get reimbursed by the time your credit card bill is due

    But generally they are good for smaller claims. I have a ton of medication claims, specialist re-checks etc. Now I just take a pic of the invoice, PDF it with my phone and email it to Petcare.

    There are some clinics out there that support electronic filing of insurance claims. I haven’t tried those but read that they allow you to only pay the copay portion of your vet bill instead of having to float the entire bill and wait to get it processed.

  21. I have to disagree with this article. Yes, you can self-insure (putting money away) but you should run your own probability scenarios.

    I paid-in to PetCare Canada for over ten years before I started to “make my premiums back”. My family thought that I was nuts to continue to pay into the premiums (early 2000s the premiums were ~$40/month for no-deductible, no copay coverage; then they introduced 20% copay and $250 deductible per year.)

    However, once my dog started developing gastro problems, heart disease as well as diabetes, my vet bills have gone through the roof.

    Last year I had to put him into intensive care for five days and the total bill came to over $5k. My vet bills alone (not including medications) over the last 12-18 months are almost $15k, with regular drug refills costing $100-$200/month between heart meds, cortisone drugs, insulin, syringes, etc). Now my premiums have crept up to $110 or so per month and at this point it makes sense.

    It all depends on what dog breed you have and what is their genetic predisposition.

    My dog has been in congestive heart failure for almost a year and overall heart disease for last four years. He would’t have made it this long had it not been for the $ spent on cardiology specialists, ultrasounds, xrays, etc etc.

  22. I agree these policies are a useless waste of money and only wish I had seen this site before losing mine! Just a tip at this end though: BE SURE your credit card company is aware you have cancelled: Even though I cancelled the policy and my credit card expired, my credit card co honoured the recurring monthly charge!!! So now I have to fight either or both of them at Small Claims.–NOT impressed, and will report to the BBB asap.

  23. Briefly, I purchased pet insurance with Petsecure, and recently tried to make a claim. They promise to pay claims within 5-7 days of processing, three weeks later after processing I’ve not received anything. From a $550.00 claim I’ve been told I’m receiving $280.00, well below the expected amount. No one answers their customer help line, so after four attempts to find out where my payment was I cancelled my insurance payments.

    This company is scamming people, STAY AWAY FROM PETSECURE and related companies.

  24. Family members dog ( 3 years) was diagnosed with addisons disease. $300. /month in medications x 12 /months yr = $3600.

    You put away $50/month, you pay $300./month in medications.

    That leaves you out of pocket $250/ month x 12 = $3000yr
    $3000 x 7 yrs (dog lives until 10) = $21,000

    You have pet insurance, pay $50/month $600 yr), no claims for 7 years, you would have paid $4200.

    Murphy’s law..you may never need to submit a claim but can you afford not to?

    Do the math. ….

  25. Thankyou for this website. I almost got conned by all the insurance companies that advertize on the web. My adopted cat was neutered by the Spca at only 4 months old. He suffered a broken hip atthe age of 11 months. The surgery and medications was in excess of $2000.00. The nerve of the Spca insurance to not cover a pre-existing condition is outrageous. After a lot of research I
    Found out that male cats are susceptible to bone injuries if they are neutered too young. This is due to the suppression of hormones required for bone development.

    I thought insurance would be a good idea knowing that his other hip could go at any time but after reading the policies, I realized his condition would be considered pre-existing anyhow. THE SPCA insurance policy is an insult in my view since the are the ones that created the problem and exclude it in their policy.

    Glad I was able to rant about it.
    Required for bone development.

  26. While I sympathize with those who have their claims denied, I’m not sure why there is surprise and anger at insurance companies for not paying out claims for conditions that are, in fact, uninsured. Why on earth would anyone expect them to?! That’s not how the insurance business works; if you haven’t bought a policy that covers it, it isn’t covered, and they have no legal obligation to cover those claims. Period. Surely the lesson to the consumer here is not “pet insurance is a scam” or “insurance companies are evil” but “be sure you’ve read and understood your policy before making claims for stuff that you should know is not covered”.

    Insurance companies get thousands of claims daily for stuff that isn’t covered because people either want to sneak something past them or just don’t understand their policies. Literally, thousands. Per day. That’s why the so-called canned response or legal mumbo-jumbo. It may be a special event for you, having your claims denied when you need the cash, but it’s not a special one-off thing for them. Insurance companies have to have an answer ready-to-hand and, more often than not, a return to the policy itself to point out relevant passages — with which the customer should already be familiar — suffices. I’m not actually sure what else people expect from them, beyond this. Charity? Wrong business for that, and it’s totally unreasonable to expect it.

    ***

    Pet insurance like any other kind of insurance is like a lottery, but with shorter odds than your Lotto 649. It’s all about weighing the risks and benefits you can reasonably expect. If I don’t get insurance, I risk high vet bills / my pet’s life for the possible benefit of keeping $20-$80 in my pocket per month. If I do get insurance, I risk that $20-$80 per month for the possible benefit of covered vet care that may make the difference between keeping and losing my pet. The risks and benefits of getting insurance rise proportionally as you consider the better plans.

    Think of it this way:

    If you get the low end insurance, over the course of one year you pay about the equivalent of one trip to the emergency after-hours vet, a trip which will most likely be covered under the insurance. Just one trip equals a whole year’s coverage. Over a ten year span, if you put the equivalent of the premium in your pocket, you would only save around $2000 — far less than actual vet care costs that you can reasonably expect over that ten years, especially as your pet ages. The possible pay out per year from the insurance company is actually many times what you would save by just putting the equivalent of the premium in your bank account.

    Hey, maybe you’ll get lucky and your pet won’t get seriously ill. Then you’ll have saved all that money. Sure, this happens to some lucky folks, and good for them. By the same token, bad luck for those who had the insurance and a healthy pet — though you’d think the healthy pet would be pretty good consolation. Then again, maybe you won’t be so lucky. So, sure, it’s a gamble, but I’d rather lose $20-$80 per month than lose my pet and fail in my basic responsibilities to/for him because I don’t have enough ready cash to give him necessary care.

    As for the government taking its cut (taxes), and the insurance company profitting? It’s a service like any other, so it gets taxed. The insurance company is a for-profit business, not a charity there to give hand-outs, and its policies are designed to reflect that. It’s silly to hold either one against the practice of selling/purchasing vet insurance.

  27. I am so glad I came online to read reviews and glad that this site was in the top hits on Google. I was considering pet insurance for ‘piece of mind’ for my 1.5 yr old black Bombay cat who is in perfect health to avoid those huge costs when he gets older. Self insurance is a wonderful idea and I will be building this into my monthly budget.
    My #1 concern with coverage was having his preventative dental procedures covered, such as cleaning and scaling etc etc. I couldnt see anywhere in any of the coverage I looked over that dental was 100% covered. Or they add that $150 is covered towards yearly checkups but to have a regular dental cleaning costs about $250 or much more depending on the situation. Thanks for bringing to light the fine print and sharing this information with us.

    Ps Paula thanks for sharing your BBB claim. Seems that every company has some sort of ‘canned response’ for all customers that try to challenge their morale. Shame!!!

  28. COMPLAINT ACTIVITY REPORT Case # 56866 BBB of Manitoba

    Consumer Info: Duke, Paula Lynn Business Info: Petsecure Pet Health Insurance
    200-1200 Portage Ave
    Winnipeg, MB R3G 0T5
    204 942-2999

    Location Involved: (Same as above)

    Consumer’s Original Complaint :
    I purchased pet insurance in Apr of 09. I purchased the Value Plan which conered “select illness’s” up to $2000.00 over the dog’s lifetime and $2000.00 for accidents over the lifetime. The difference between the value plan and the accident plan is that it covers “select illness’s” as well as accidents… The choice plan co ers “all illness’s” and $2500.00 yearly. I chose the value plan because it was all I could really afford and yet they increased my premiums on two seperate occasions and I still kept the insurance. I was under the impression that my dog’s tests/visits would be covered but if his illness was not on the list of “select illness’s” then his treatment would NOT be covered.Recently, I had to take my dog to the vet because he was sick. The vet preformed numerous tests and numerous re-checks, blood tests an ultrasound and another procedure. It was determined that he has an illness NOT covered by my insurance. His treatment is Chemotherapy medication. I did not claim the medication. I did claim the vet costs associated with determining the diagnosis. Not once during my dog’s visits did I even once think my bills would not be covered. I trusted ths company with my money and I borrowed the $700 in bills from my retired father who is on a fixed income because The thought that my claims would be denied was not even considered. I totally put my trust in this company and I feel sick that they won’t pay a single dollar. I’m still totally confused as to how my visits aren’t covered because of the diagnosis…. It makes no sence to me, treatment, yes, OK, sure, but the visits??? I’m sick.I called to get some resolution and the agent would not even explain the rationale behind the decision, he just kept telling me over and over about the approved illness’s. I asked to speak with someone else. He informed me another agent would review my vlaim and then return my call. It was not 5 minutes before my phone rang. No to resolution,She tried to sell me more insurance. Disgusting!
    Product_Or_Service: PC Pet insurance
    Account_Number: 804972

    BBB Processing

    WEB BBB RECEIVE BUSINESS RESPONSE : the complaint forwarded by the Better Business Bureau
    Ms. Duke raises several concerns in her complaints, and each is answered in turn below. Where explanations refer to policy documentation, I have included the relevant information, however it may be useful for Ms. Duke to refer to her own copies for verification. In the event these have been misplaced, they are also publicly accessible at http://www.pcinsurance.ca/english/pet-insurance/pet (please refer to the policy Wordings for the original Value Plan).
    Ms. Duke makes mention that she chose the Value Plan’s select illness coverage based on the cost of the premiums, and that premiums were then raised twice since then. The increase in cost over time is normal for insurance just as it is with other goods and services. When Ms. Duke began insuring on April 25 2009, her policy premium was $21.64. On April 25 2010, her policy premium was updated from the 2009 premium rating to the 2010 rating of $22.29. The anniversary increase in 2011 brought the premium to $23.18, and in 2012 it increased to $23.88.
    The reasons for the gradual increase in premium is related to such factors as rising veterinary costs, inflation, and increased costs to provide coverage over time as well. The total increase of $2.24 since inception in 2009 represents an overall increase of 9.7%, which is significantly lower than the average premium increase with most other plans.
    Ms. Duke also mentiones that she “was under the impression that my dog’s tests/visits would be covered”. A review of recorded telephone calls indicates that our staff have not offered or implied coverage for these diagnostics, and all documentation provided in the past has been clear as well. When Ms. Duke initially submitted her policy application, she did so through the PC pet insurance website. During plan selection, the nature of the plan’s select illness coverage is briefly summarized. Prior to submitting the policy application, Ms. Duke was presented with a link to a document entitled “Policy Terms, Conditions, and Benefits of Insurance”.
    Ms. Duke was presented with a declaration stating that she had read and accepted the terms contained in this document, which are the terms under which Western Financial Insurance Company was willing to provide a policy. This document contains the following information on page 2:
    ___________
    VALUE PLAN:
    We will reimburse You for the costs of insured Veterinary Services Your pet
    has received as a result of an Accident or as a direct result of one of the
    following Select Illnesses. The limit of Coverage per Illness, as specified on
    Your Document of Insurance and Schedule of Maximum Benefit Amounts, is
    the Maximum amount We will pay for that Illness over the lifetime of Your pet.
    Select Illnesses:
    * Kidney and Urinary Problems
    * Contagious Infectious Disease (for example: Kennel Cough or Upper
    Respiratory Infection)
    * Feline Asthma (cats only)
    * Ear Infections
    * Eye Infections
    * Arthritis (dogs only)
    * Diabetes (cats only)
    * Digestive Tract Problems including Internal Parasites (vomiting and diarrhea)
    * Seizures (dogs only)
    * Cancer (malignant tumors confirmed by histopathology)
    ___________
    As shown in the documentation, no coverage is offered for diagnostic tests for uninsured conditions. Ms. Duke agreed to the declaration, confirming that she had read, understood, and accepted the terms under which coverage was offered. On April 27 2009, policy documentation was sent which included a copy of the Policy Terms, Conditions, and Benefits of Insurance document, as well as Ms. Duke’s own Document of Insurance and Schedule of Maximum Benefit Amounts.
    The Schedule of Maximum Benefit Amounts provided a high level summary of the coverage Ms. Duke would have. The following information was on this document:
    ___________
    value plan
    Accidents:
    $2,000 limit per incident on Veterinary Services
    Select Illnesses:
    $2,000 lifetime limit per Select Illness on
    Veterinary Services for:
    * Kidney and Urinary Problems
    * Contagious Infectious Disease (for example:
    Kennel Cough or Upper Respiratory Infection)
    * Feline Asthma (cats only)
    * Ear Infections
    * Eye Infections
    * Arthritis (dogs only)
    * Diabetes (cats only)
    * Digestive Tract Problems including Internal
    Parasites (vomiting and diarrhea)
    * Seizures (dogs only)
    * Cancer (malignant tumors confirmed
    by histopathology)
    Special Coverage:
    Alternative Treatments and
    Medical Devices.
    $350 per year per category
    ___________
    Ms. Duke goes on to explain that she does not understand why the diagnostics for her dog’s uninsured condition were not covered. The original Value Plan was a type of insurance known as a “named perils” policy, where only costs shown to be cause by one of the listed perils will be eligible for coverage. Any costs which are not listed among the insured perils will not be covered. The simplest way to explain this is that because the reason (peril) for the diagnostic tests (a blood disorder) is not covered, the diagnostic tests cannot be covered.
    Ms. Duke also mentions that the person who contacted her to resolve her concerns following her initial complaint had attempted to sell her more insurance. On the contrary, an offer was being made to update Ms. Duke’s plan to the new version of her current plan, which covers all illnesses. This change was offered without requiring new underwriting of the plan, which means that she would have been allowed to claim for the ongoing treatment of her dog’s illness, even though she did not have insurance for that illness when it began. This type of plan is known as a “comprehensive” policy, and it covers all illnesses, including those which have not been diagnosed.
    Ms. Duke states that her desired resolution is for her claims for the tests to diagnose her dog’s current illness be covered. Unfortunately, we are unable to cover claims for any veterinary services related to an uninsured illness under the conditions of her chosen policy. Regretfully, Ms. Duke has chosen to cancel her policy rather than permit it to be updated for coverage of future treatment costs, however she may choose to reinstate her policy within 14 days of her cancellation date.
    Since the time of this complaint to the Better Business Bureau, Ms. Duke has further requested that she be provided with a higher coverage level, that the higher coverage level be backdated to April 25 2009 and that this additional coverage should be provided to her free of charge. She clarified that she wished the deductible be removed, and she be paid “80% of that”, my assumption being that she intends our company to falsify an insurance policy in order to provide coverage on her claims.
    As with any insurer, Western Financial Insurance Company (the underwriter for PC pet insurance) is audited twice yearly to ensure legal compliance and evaluate the financial health of the business. The book of business from April of 2009 has been closed for a significant length of time, and it is not possible to change it in this way. Even in the current book of business however, changes to the policy would not be backdated. Insurance is about the risk of potential financial loss, and cannot be purchased retroactively or provided free of charge after the loss has occurred.
    It is my sincere hope that the information above explains why coverage has not been and will not be forthcoming for the claims already submitted, and that the offer of comprehensive coverage for the future provides some semblance of help and security for Ms. Duke and her dog. If there are any further questions or concerns, please feel free to contact me at customeradvocate@westernfic.com. Thank you.

    So this so called customer advocate for WESTERN FINANCIAL not only denied to provide any resolution, she called me a liar and aluded to the fact that I was attempting insurance fraud???!!!???

    BUYER BEWARE! SELF INSURE PEOPLE! DO NOT COUNT ON WESTERN FINANCIAL TO HAVE YOU OR YOUR PETS BACK BECAUSE THEY ONLY BACK THEY HAVE IS THEIR OWN AND THEY HAVE PAGES AND PAGES OF LEGAL MOMBOJUMBO TO PROVE IT!

  29. You have all helped me a tremendous amount. I was seconds away from going with the PC Insurance..my last search, as always, was “Reviews on PC Pet Insurance.” You’ve all saved me and my Loonie Toon, thank you very much!

  30. Thank you for your article…it has certainly saved me. I know it is hard to get 800.00 plus for a vet bill for dental…which is NEVER covered by the insurance plans unless you pay up to 100.00 per month…like so what is the difference after deductible…not a darn thing! I am better off paying things myself..and saving for my pet, and taking good care of her as far as possible than relying on such so called ‘pet plans’ out there….so thanks!! I wish more people would do homework. It would save them a ton of grief with their pets in the long run. I am grateful you are here to help us all out!
    Cheers
    Macooa’s mom. :)

  31. I agree with self insurance. There was a time I worked for a pet insurance company and I never really was personally sold on what I was selling.

  32. I could not agree more with your article. I have 2 healthy mixed breed puppies who are unlikely to suffer any significant illness. If I purchased medium level coverage I would dish out roughly $10,000/dog over their lifetime in fees. My last dog lived to the ripe age of 14. I spent about $200/year for routine vet visits and roughly $2000 in the last six months of his life as his health began to deteriorate. Having more money at my disposal via insurance would not have made any difference, he was 14 and it was his time. Had I purchased insurance for him I could have at best recovered 1/5 my investment. Not a very good return.

  33. We had the best policy with 24petwatch- 50 USD per month. after 4 years, made a 200 dollar claim. After much documentation, we got $80! A scam- and you are right- it’s better to self insure.

  34. Beloved dog worth money for sure!

    But saving some amount each month is much more advantageous than paying money to pet insurance companies – it is the obvious fact. Insurance companies simply have no money to pay you more than you’ve already paid to them in premiums. Minus huge expenses on advertisement, salary, other operational costs.

    Buying insurance for pet’s last years is worthless as well. Insurance companies will put everything in the exclusion list and won’t pay anything. Again, it is much better to save money by yourself for any required treatment.

    Insurance sometimes pay some lucky owners big amounts – it is the best marketing they can do!

    It’s not even a lottery.. pet insurance industry is extremely unfair…

  35. I have to say that I disagree. I haven’t had my dog for a number of years, however I did have pet insurance and it was very handy. When I got it the cut-off for getting it was 9 years old, so a few month before that I got it. In the first 2-3 years I think I pretty much broke even, in the last year though, the insurance paid out close to 5K.

    I have spoken to numerous pet owners and have heard figures from 5K to 25K for the last 1-2 years of life for a dog. my advice is, don’t get it when they’re pups, but definately a good gamble for their last years. It really would have sucked going to the vet and trying to decide if my beloved dog of 13 years was worth the money…

  36. Trupanion is not an exclusion from unfair pet insurance practices. On the average, you will not get more money for your claim than you have already paid in premium!

    From ANY insurance company!

    It can be even twice less, because half of the premiums paid by customers go to operational costs, advertisement, salaries and actual income of the company. Otherwise pet insurance company will have to declare bankruptcy.

    Patsy’s friend “won a lottery”. $8000 is 160 monthly premiums of $50. Taking into account operational costs of Trupanion (let’s say half of premiums), we need approximately 320 monthly payments of $50 in order to cover mentioned claim. Dog’s age is approximately 2 years, so Patsy’s friend could pay approximately 20 premiums (at least 2 months old pets can be insured), or even less. 320 divided by 20 is 16, so we need at least 15 more people (similar Trupanion’s customers) with no claims at all in order to cover this $8000 claim! Unfortunately this is not realistic at all.

    Chances that Patsy’s friend’s claim is reimbursed are maximum 1 from 16. It is equivalent of $500 paid out of $8000. Note that $1000 has already been paid in premium! Does anyone need this kind of pet health insurance when you only loose your own money in any case?

    I went through Trupanion’s pet health insurance policy and found many absurd and tricky limitations. For example, if your pet has not been neutered or spayed prior to its first birthday, and a car hits a pet, claim will be denied (the company will not pay for it). Another thing: according to “pre-existing conditions” section in the policy, any claim may be easily “fallen” under it, and reimbursement will be denied.

    So, saving $50/month on your bank account is much more better choice than paying and loosing the same money with any pet health insurance company. Think about it! It is your choice.

    Regards,
    Trueler

  37. If you saved $50 a month, it would take 10+ years to save up $5000. My friend just claimed $8000 with another insurance carrier (Trupanion) on her 2 yr old dog and was very happy that she had it. Sounds like the companies mentioned above though are criminal!

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