Is Pet Insurance Worth It?

Last Sunday, I was speaking to a friend who was heartbroken over her dog who was dying of cancer. They were doing all they could to save her and had by that point already racked up $7,000 in bills for chemo and other treatments. Unfortunately, she had let her pet insurance lapse before her dog got sick. She implored me to get pet insurance for my dog. While it probably wouldn’t have covered all of her costs, she said that it would have taken care of a large portion.

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Just like with people, you can’t predict whether your pet will come down with a serious illness or injury.

I was convinced. I decided I’d look into it the following week. Then through a twist of irony, my normally healthy young dog became violently ill the next night. After he began vomiting violently at 3 AM, we took him to the emergency animal clinic. After doing some bloodwork, rehydrating him, and giving him anti-nausea meds, they weren’t able to figure out what made him so ill. But $550 later, my dog was back to good health.

I considered this a lesson learned and signed my dog up for medical insurance the next day. But is pet insurance worth it?

Consumer Reports put three major pet insurers to the test by looking at a relatively health 10-year-old beagle’s lifetime medical bills and how much each company’s policies would have covered if she were insured. They found that none of the nine policies they looked at would have saved the beagle’s owners any money. However, when they added in hypothetical illnesses like chronic arthritis, incontinence as a result of spaying, hypothyroidism, the removal of a benign tumor, and euthanasia, some of the policies did save the owners money.

They also looked at how pet insurance would work in the cases of two cats – one a kitten and one 10-years old, both with serious illnesses. The kitten required open-heart surgery and the older cat required cancer treatment. In their cases, all of the policies saved the owners money.

Based on their analysis, Consumer Reports concluded that pet insurance usually isn’t worth the cost, which is often upwards of $300 a year. But it’s also the case for healthy humans that they pay more in medical insurance premiums than they end up getting back in the form of care. So, should people roll the dice with their own health and hope they don’t face a catastrophic event? That’s not a chance most would take, if given the choice.

Whether pet insurance is worth it really depends on your financial situation and what you’d be willing to pay to treat a sick pet. If you have the means for the monthly payment, pet insurance can offer you peace of mind at least, and significant financial help at most. Look at what you can afford each month, then shop around for the policy that will best meet your needs. Find out what’s covered, what’s not covered, if there are any restrictions, caps, co-pays, or deductibles.

I had to disclose my dog’s medical history for the plan I purchased, so his stomach condition is considered a pre-existing condition. But that restriction will be dropped if he stays healthy for the next six months – a fair compromise in my book. And for just $34 a month, I have the comfort of knowing that I’ll be able to handle any medical bump in the road, ensuring my best friend is here  for many years to come.

Do you have pet insurance? Tell us if you think it’s worth it below.

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