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Is Pet Insurance Really Worth It?

Is Pet Insurance Really Worth It?

by Dr. Doug Kenney, PetMD

If you listen to consumer watch groups or read publications like Consumer Reports, you might decide that pet insurance just isnít worth it.

In their latest study, Consumer Reports concluded that pet owners with mostly healthy dogs or cats will not receive back in reimbursements what they pay in premiums. But, pet owners with dogs or cats that have major illnesses or chronic diseases that result in large or frequent claims are more likely to benefit from pet insurance. Is a study really needed to figure that out?

It is true that most pet owners who purchase pet insurance will not receive back in benefits what they pay in premiums. Pet insurance companies have to take in (premiums) more than they pay out (reimbursements). Otherwise, they couldnít stay in business. But, this is true with virtually every other type of insurance you buy.

Then why buy pet insurance? You purchase pet insurance for the unexpected major or chronic problems that you would have trouble paying for out-of-pocket, like a fracture that requires surgery, gastrointestinal foreign body, Cushings disease, diabetes or arthritis. I often tell pet owners that pet insurance isnít for the $150 urinary tract infection, but for the $3500 fracture repair, etc.

In the study, Consumer Reports compared premiums with reimbursements, from puppyhood until Roxy was ten years old. But many of the chronic and costly diseases that pets get occur during their senior years. Remember, if your pet lives long enough, it is inevitable that he or she will develop one or more chronic diseases that can usually be managed successfully with either surgery or medication ó sometimes over several years. Cumulatively, this can sometimes add up to a significant expense.

Trupanion was the only newer company that they included in the study, and they reimbursed the most when compared to the other three companies. I think it would have been interesting to see how all of the newer companies would have fared in the study.

Consumer Reportís overall recommendation is that pet owners should open a savings account to pay for their petís healthcare expenses instead of buying a pet insurance policy. People who have lost sight of the primary purpose of pet insurance usually make this recommendation. I addressed this in a previous blog post.

Is the decision to purchase pet insurance always just a matter of dollars and cents? I think not, because many pet owners who purchase pet insurance realize that itís possible they wonít ever be reimbursed the amount they pay in premiums. They do it for the peace of mind – knowing that they will be able to treat their beloved pet just in case something unexpected and costly does occur.

If we could just get Consumer Reports to use their crystal ball to forecast for pet owners who may be interested in purchasing pet insurance whether their pet will be mostly healthy or not ó now that would be really helpful!

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Is Pet Insurance Really Worth It? originally appeared on

Read more: Cats, Dogs, Everyday Pet Care, Less Common Pets, Pet Health, Pets, Remedies & Treatments, Safety,

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petMD is a leading online resource focused solely on the health and well-being of pets. The site maintains the world's largest pet health library, written and approved by a network of trusted veterinarians. petMD was founded to inspire pet owners to provide an ever-increasing quality of life for their pets and to connect pet owners with pet experts and other animal lovers. For more information, visit


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10:12AM PST on Dec 1, 2012

Thank your for sharing.

2:52PM PST on Nov 30, 2012

Thank you

10:34PM PDT on Oct 29, 2012

Written like a spokesperson for the pet insurance industry -- emphasize the worst possible scenarios and diminish the fact that, for 99% of pet owners this is a costly and unnecessary way to try to gain peace of mind. Go with Consumer Reports' recommendation and start a savings account (and contribute regularly) to handled unexpected expenses.

3:34AM PDT on May 25, 2012

Yes pet insurance has really great value for each pet and pet owner life as these insurance factors cover many medical cost like injury, medicines, surgery and many more daily expensive. Pet insurance has equal importance like any other insurance programs.

11:19PM PDT on May 22, 2012

Always before you buy a Animal Insurance policy, call your veterinarian office to find out what policies will cover costs there. After all, there’s no point getting a policy if it your veterinarian doesn’t accept it.

8:46PM PDT on Apr 8, 2012


2:23PM PDT on Apr 5, 2012

I have insurance for my 3 dogs for 13 years and don't regret it.

5:10AM PDT on Apr 5, 2012

interesting article, thanks for sharing :)

12:41PM PDT on Mar 25, 2012

It is likely easier to just put a monthly deposit on your account with your own vet of say 40-50 dollars per month and let that build up over the years, this should cover various health issues that come up. There are times when pet insurance may be useful but many times when one does not need to use it. If the money is on an account with the vet, then at least it will be used during the life time of the pet.

11:12AM PDT on Mar 23, 2012


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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

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