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Pet insurance can help ease your stress when you need it most.
When your dog is sick or hurt, the last thing you need is to face a mountain of vet bills you aren’t confident you can pay.
Pet insurance helps pay unexpected vet bills and is well worth the cost when the unforeseen happens.
I have been grateful for pet insurance numerous times.
When Daisy had her stroke, or when she tore her ACL, or the time she had a jaw infection, I couldn’t have been more thankful that we had pet insurance.
What is Pet Insurance?
Pet insurance is relatively similar to human health insurance.
You have a monthly premium, out of pocket expenses, and guidelines as to what is covered.
Unlike most human insurance, pet insurance usually do not have networks, so you are free to bring your pup to whichever vet you want.
Also, pet insurance covers only a percentage of the vet bills; the percent depends on the company and policy.
Most pet insurance covers accidents and illnesses only, but some plans do offer care and wellness reimbursement.
Why get Pet Insurance?
Some dogs go their whole life with little to no illness or accidents, but most dogs encounter more than their share of issues and accidents.
Whether it’s an upset stomach from eating something in the yard to cancer, things happen.
So when budgeting for your dog, consider how you will pay for the unexpected.
Research what it costs for an ACL surgery, cancer, or Lyme disease, then weigh it against the costs of insurance.
These are issues that can happen to any dog.
Most vet hospitals do not offer payment plans and expect full payment at the time of service, so if you aren’t confident you can pay for a $1000+ vet bill comfortably, then pet insurance might be the answer.
Is Pet Insurance Right for Me?
If you still aren’t sure Pet Insurance is worth it, consider some of the following questions:
Would you be able to cover an emergency vet bill costing between $1000 to $5000?
Example: Your dog is favoring their hind leg, you bring them in only to find out they have torn their ACL.
Can you afford the X-rays, bloodwork, surgery, and aftercare?
What type of coverage would help you the most? Emergencies Only? Illnesses only?
Example: You are more concerned your dog will have an accident such as breaking a leg while playing at the dog park or getting hurt while hiking. But you aren’t worried about the cost of vet bills as they pertain to general illness such as Lyme disease, colitis, or diabetes.
Do you want a policy to help with general care and wellness, such as vaccines, spay/neuter, and monthly preventatives?
Is access to a helpline vital to you?
Helplines can answer general questions, questions specific to your plan, and can help you avoid misunderstandings that could result in costly mistakes.
Example: Your dog is sick and has proposed several options for diagnostic tests, but you aren’t sure what’s covered, so calling a helpline would aid you in making more informed decisions.
Is it more manageable for you to budget a monthly payment instead of a large sum of money to cover the unexpected?
Is your budget better set up for a $30 monthly payment or no monthly payment but with the possibility of a surprise vet bill that is significantly high?
Is Pet Insurance Right for Your Dog?
Not all of the deciding factors are dependent on your bank account; an essential element in this equation is your dog.
Is your dog older?
Many pet insurance companies have different guidelines when it comes to the age of your dog.
Some will offer full coverage at a very high rate. Other insurance companies only provide accident insurance for seniors.
Does your dog have pre-existing issues that will impact your coverage?
For example, Sophie has allergies, so all of her allergy medicine, appointments, supplements, and secondary illnesses associated with her allergies are not covered.
Read Also: What is NOT Covered by Pet Insurance?
Is your dog’s breed prone to congenital or hereditary conditions?
Not all insurance companies cover these health issues based on the breed of your dog.
For example, my mom’s dog Gussie had hip dysplasia surgery since she is a Golden Retriever; it wasn’t covered, and neither was any of her follow up care.
There are risks to getting pet insurance or not, it just depends on which situation you feel most comfortable.
If you sign up for a policy and your dog stays healthy most of its life, you will likely never recoup your premiums.
Or if your dog’s coverage excludes hereditary issues and your dog ends up with a torn ACL, then you will pay for both insurance and the full cost of the bills for the ACL procedure.
If you don’t sign up and your dog breaks her tooth chewing on a metal gate and needs a root canal and crown, then you are responsible for the full $5000 right before your wedding.
This actually happened with Sophie back in 2013, but thankfully we had insurance.
I have enough stories of when insurance was helpful for my family to fill a novel.
I have dealt with everything from a grass seed rooting in Daisy’s jaw to Calvin’s ear being torn while wrestling with his sisters.
Plus, endless illnesses such as chronic pancreatitis, allergies, Cushing’s in two of my dogs, and irritable bowel disease, which put Cal in the hospital for two days.
On the flip side, my dad’s Golden died of cancer when she was 13 years old.
However, before her symptoms showed up, she was always healthy and never had any mishaps.
Her cancer wasn’t treatable, so pet insurance would have been a waste of money.
So unless you have a crystal ball, it is hard to say if insurance is worth the cost.
How to Calculate if Pet Insurance is Worth it for You
Before signing up for any plan compare the costs.
Take your top three choices and determine the annual cost:
|Annual Deductible||Reimbursement||Annual Rate|
Next you will want to find the cost in your area for a few different medical issues:
- Infected Abcess on leg – $204.25
- Bladder Issues – $625
- Cancer – $10,000
- Ate a squeaky toy – $7,000
- Appointment with Specialist, Ultra-Sound, and Urinalysis to test for Cushings – $1500 (Testing Only)
Now take your preferred insurance company’s annual rate and see how it compares if any of the above examples happen.
But keep in mind the deductible and reimbursement percentage.
Pet insurance won’t work for everyone; there’s a lot of pros and cons.
Hopefully, you have a healthy dog, but consider how you will handle a situation if a vet bill is more than you can afford.
Are you willing to make the sacrifice of moving to a cheaper place to help cover the vet bills like the founders of PetPlan did before starting their pet insurance company?
I don’t ask these questions to scare you, but having volunteered for over ten years with dog rescue and I’ve seen dogs surrendered to rescue because the owners couldn’t afford vet care when a dog became ill or was injured.
So I encourage you to have a plan, whether its pet insurance or a piggy bank, in the event of an unexpected costly vet bill.
Still Have Questions?
Ask a Vet!