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July 03, 2021

Health insurance for your pets?

By Gordon Powers, Sympatico / MSN Finance

According to the American Animal Hospital Association, close to half of pet owners who regularly take their animals to the vet would spend “any amount” to save their pets’ lives, including going into debt – which is why so many of them seem to be buying pet insurance to protect their beloved charges.   

Coverage can run thousands of dollars over the life of an average pet, and the chances are slim that many  people will ever need to shell out that much for treatment. But try telling that to anxious pet owners worried about artificial hip joints, chemotherapy and even open-heart surgery.

It used to be that a seriously ill animal would be euthanized. Now, MRIs, ultrasounds and CAT scans are regularly used to detect illnesses in pets, introducing numerous expensive treatment options at the same time.

As with health insurance for the two-legged, the older your pet, the more the premiums will cost. Pet policy providers charge premiums and deductibles for different levels of coverage, so be sure to choose carefullyBe sure to ask whether the insurer offers discounts for insuring multiple animals. 

Policies and premiums can vary widely, particularly when it comes to deductibles, co-pays and caps, which may limit payouts according to the type of incident, an annual allowable minimum or the animal's lifetime. As well, routine treatments, such as vaccinations, spaying or neutering are usually excluded. Here's a good summary of how a claim might work.

Would you buy such a policy? How far would you go to save a pet?



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Gordon PowersGordon Powers

A long-time fund company executive, Gordon Powers now heads up the Affinity Group, a financial services consulting firm. Gordon was a personal finance columnist for the Globe & Mail for many years, has taught retirement planning...

James HaversJames Havers

James is the senior editor of MSN Money living in Toronto. He has worked for the Nikkei Shimbun (Tokyo),,, Canadian Business and other publications. Havers turned to journalism after teaching overseas.

Jason BucklandJason Buckland

The modern-day MC Hammer of money, Jason can often be seen spending cash that isn’t his with the efficiency of a Wilt Chamberlain first date. After cutting his teeth as a reporter for the Toronto Sun, he joined the MSN Money team with...