Is Pet Insurance Worth the Money?
As a licensed veterinary technician I don't think enough pet parents understand the benefits of pet insurance. Plus, I don't think the veterinary profession as a whole is doing a good enough job of educating the public. Most likely because they don't know much about how pet insurance works themselves. While it's probably not the job of veterinarians to educate clients about the different policies available (they aren't insurance agents) it would still be beneficial to spread the word that pet insurance is an option and available to those who would use it.
According to the American Pet Products Assocation we spent a little over $11 billion on veterinary care for our pets last year. Despite that, only a little more than 2 percent of all U.S. pet owners have pet insurance. This is in sharp contrast to European countries where between 20 and 50 percent of pets are covered under some type of pet health insurance plan.
Even so, pet insurance is still the most claimed for type of insurance in the United States, beating out homeowners and auto insurance claims. So, while you might not see much of the money back from your homeowners or auto insurance premiums, chances are if you have pet insurance you'll use it.
What About a Savings Account?
Just like any other type of insurance, pet insurance is not without risk. There are no guarantees you'll ever see your money back. Because of this risk some people advocate a seperate savings account for your pet's medical expenses. That way, if you're lucky enough to own a pet that never requires a complex, unplanned, or expensive medical procedure you can use the money to take a vacation or make a down payment on a convertible. In my opinion, there are a few problems with this model:
1. Some people don't even have an adequate emergency fund set aside for their own expenses, much less their pets. In today's economy, how likely is it that someone will be dedicated enough to set aside a fixed amount each month for their pet's medical care and not spend it on another "emergency"?
2. Even if you do save a little each month how long is it going to take to save $1000, $2000, $3000? What if your pet requires emergency treatment tomorrow? Next month? Are you going to have enough money saved to cover the entire cost?
3. If you're using money from a savings accout to fund your pet's medical expenses what happens when the money runs out and your pet still requires treatment? Just one trip to the emergency clinic or the specialist hospital can cost $1000 or more. One major surgery can cost $2000-3000. What happens after that? Your savings account has been depleted and you're back to square one wondering where to get the money from.
You should learn from the mistakes of the second woman in this video. Unfortunately she had a bad experience with her pet insurance company and recommends using a savings account. I wish instead of saying what she said in this video she would have encouraged pet owners to ask more questions when signing up for a policy. Not all pet insurance companies work the same way and some would have covered her dog's expenses had she known what to look for before choosing a plan.
What Would You Do Tomorrow?
The main benefit of having a pet insurance policy is that it's always there when you need it and will cover multiple visits, year after year. If you sign up for a policy today and your pet requires an expensive treatment tomorrow or next week you're covered. But before you sign on the dotted line be sure to do your research. The best pet insurance companies will be happy to answer any questions you have.
Chances are, each and every pet is going to require costly medical care at some point in its life. Some pets sooner than others. In fact, many puppies are prone to illness, especially those that like to chew and ingest objects too big to pass through the intestinal tract. An exploratory surgery to remove a foreign object from the stomach or intestines of a curious dog is not all that uncommon (and will likely set you back at least a few hundred dollars or more).
Luckily, most veterinary bills are only a fraction of the cost of what the same procedures would cost if performed in human medicine. Therefore, pet insurance premiums are probably more affordable than you think. However, if you want to get the most out of your pet insurance plan, it's usually best to sign up for a policy while your pet is still healthy and young to avoid exclusions.
If your on the fence about pet insurance you should ask yourself: "What would I do tomorrow if I found out my pet needed sudden medical care which would cost $2,500 and it needed to be paid immediately? Would it cause financial hardship?"
If your answer is yes than pet insurance would be worth the money to you. Like any other type of insurance, pet insurance is something you have but you hope you never need to use. One dog owner says, "I think pet insurance is a great deal for the peace of mind it gives me. I'd rather pay the money for the policy and never need it, than need it and not have it."
As a vet tech who has helped to euthanize way too many pets before their time, I couldn't agree more.
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