How dog insurance compares to universal life insurance
Insurance companies say the cost of universal life and dog insurance are about the same.
The differences are significant, they say.
Insurance companies in Ontario and Quebec are also considering making changes to their insurance plans, but they are not expected to affect coverage or premiums.
A spokesperson for the BCG, which represents Ontario insurers, said the differences between policies are based on what they have to offer to their customers.
The spokesperson says if a company had to change its policy, it would be for an “economic reason.”
“We don’t believe a change in policy is likely to have a significant impact on the premiums or the benefits for consumers,” said Brian Wiebe, BCG’s vice-president of insurance and consumer protection.
A universal life policy will cover a pet up to the age of two years and will cost the insurer between $250,000 and $300,000 per policy.
The provincial government’s universal life plans are based in part on a study by the BCB, a private, nonprofit agency that helps consumers and businesses manage their personal finances.
In a 2016 study, BCB concluded that dog and cat insurance is more expensive for people who have health issues.
“If you’re underinsured, if you’re not getting insurance, you’re more likely to fall into the financial trap of being over-insured,” said Jennifer LeBrun, a BCG spokesperson.
“And if you don’t have the money for an affordable cat insurance policy, there’s going to be more of a financial burden.”
LeBruns said in Ontario, universal life will be more expensive than dog insurance.
She said universal life is an option for those who have coverage through their employers or insurance companies.
“They have to do a little bit more work in the process,” LeBrunner said.
“It’s a little different.
They have to work more for a little longer, because they don’t want to be stuck with a policy that’s going up in value.”
Dog insurance is not covered by Ontario’s provincial health plan, but some people in Ontario may be eligible for a universal life plan if they are also covered by a federal universal life or universal health plan.
People who qualify for universal life in Ontario or Quebec may be able to get a dog insurance policy through the BCTRA.
The BCG said a universal health and universal life option is not yet available in Ontario.
A person can get a universal dog policy by paying the full premium for two years.
A pet policy is typically a two-year policy, meaning a two year premium can be paid up front, or at the end of the two-years, for a one-year fee.
LeBran said there are some people who qualify to get dog insurance through a universal plan.
“That’s something we have looked at,” she said.
She added that the BCGs insurance companies are working with the BCs Department of Finance and Consumer Services to determine if there are any specific changes they could make to help the provincial health insurance plan.
Lebrun said she would like to see the BC government do more to help people with financial challenges who are looking to purchase a dog policy.
“We think that we’re in the best position, given the nature of the business, to offer universal coverage for dogs, for our members, for the people who are in need of it,” she added.
LeBarrun said the BCDSA is working with provincial insurance regulators to explore the issue.
“This is an ongoing issue, and it is one that we are working through with our stakeholders,” she explained.
“There are things we can do to make this a better process for our customers, including increasing the cost for those people that we have to insure, or the people that are covered.”
The BC Government has also announced a new dog insurance program.
It will cover up to $100,000 for dogs under two years of age and up to a maximum of $200,000 to those over two years old.
The plan will cover those who purchase coverage through a government program, such as the Ontario Disability Support Program or the Guaranteed Income Supplement.
It’s expected to start in 2017 and run until 2021.
It comes after a recent study by BNN found that universal life policies are not more expensive in Ontario than other types of policies.
“While dog and Cat insurance may be cheaper than universal coverage, the costs are not comparable to the cost to the dog owner,” said LeBarrunner.