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Should You Get Health Insurance for Your Pet?

Should You Get Health Insurance for Your Pet?

Anyone who has pets has probably been on the receiving end of a huge vet bill, often unforeseen, that has them questioning whether pet health insurance would have softened the blow.

In my case, it was a couple of years ago, when my fiancé’s cat made a particularly ambitious leap and ended up with a broken femur. The surgery cost thousands, and at the time, I was kicking myself for not having health insurance for our cats. Surely that one surgery would have made the cost worth it, right?

Not necessarily. Like people health insurance, pet health insurance can be complicated—and experts are torn on whether the cost is worth it. Veterinarian Jean Maixner, co-owner of Animal Critical Care & Emergency Services in Seattle, points out that pet health insurance can help owners avoid “economic euthanasia,” telling that “Some people can’t afford the treatment so they ask us to euthanize their pet. It’s absolutely horrible. If people had acquired pet insurance before the emergency occurred, they might have been able to move forward with some reasonable treatment to help their pet.”

Not everyone agrees. According to Consumer Reports, pet health insurance is rarely worth the cost. Comparing different brands of insurance, Consumer Reports looked at the vet bills of Roxy, a 10-year-old beagle. Her vet visits included three visits to the emergency room, two dental cleanings with anesthesia, and a few ear and eye infections and episodes of gastrointestinal distress. None of the nine policies would have paid out more than the projected premiums—that is, until Consumer Reports added hypothetical elements like a benign tumor, chronic arthritis, and euthanasia. Only then did some of the policies return a positive payout.

Is it worth it for you? If you’re on the fence about health insurance for your own pets, here are 5 things to consider:

  • Check plan restrictions as they relate to specific breeds.
  • Most pet health insurance plans are reimbursement plans—you’ll pay upfront, and get paid back later. Make sure you know how quickly you’ll receive reimbursement and if there are any limits on incidents per year.
  • Pre-existing symptoms, diseases, and conditions usually aren’t covered.
  • Some health insurance providers will offer discounts if you’re insuring multiple pets.
  • Not all plans will allow you to choose any vet or animal hospital–check the fine print to make sure yours does if it’s an important factor for you.

Do you have health insurance for your pets? Is it worth what you pay for it?


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Read more: Cats, Dogs, Everyday Pet Care, Pet Health, Pets

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2:54PM PDT on Oct 19, 2014

In Finland pet insurance coverage in a year is the amount of your dogs "value".
So as I have 2 rescue mutts, the insurance companies here think their "value" is so low, as to be almost the same amount I would have to pay them.
So I do not have insurance for my dogs, but pay all bills by myself, as I value them sky high.

12:55AM PDT on Oct 19, 2014

Thank you!

12:11AM PDT on Oct 19, 2014

Thank you!

6:33AM PDT on Jun 8, 2014

We have 5 inside only cats. It would cost a fortune to insure all of them. One is 15, one is 9, 2 will be 6 on July 4th, and our baby is 4 years old. The older they are, the more is costs to insure them!

9:12AM PDT on May 4, 2014

Yes, for us its a good solution. My dog is allergic for some things.We had/ have a lot of consults by our vet.

2:20AM PDT on Apr 21, 2014


1:16PM PDT on Apr 15, 2014

Pet Insurance is a good ting IF you can afford it! Unfortunately, some people are on very low income budgets....

2:58PM PDT on Apr 13, 2014

If your pet spends a lot of time outdoors then its worth having.

7:18AM PDT on Apr 10, 2014

My first cat Buckwheat, I insured him, and that was back in 1987. He lived almost 13 years and that was one of the best times in my life, I was truly blessed to have lived with him for the time I was given. I tallied up the premiums I paid versus the money paid back to me for claims and I actually came out ahead by some dollars, can't remember how much. Now, that scenario is unlikely.

Like any insurance company, they make money when they don't have to pay a claim, so buyer beware!

I agree with Susan H above, either way your gonna pay the money to help your animal, so setting up an emergency fund is the smart way to do it.

Like having children, animals have expenses, so before deciding to becoming a pet parent, do your research and determine if you can afford to have an animal. You want to provide a good home to them, including any healthcare costs, so think seriously before bringing Fido or Fluffy home!

12:53PM PDT on Mar 31, 2014

I bought pet insurance for my 2 rescues when I first adopted them. I have kept it up as they are now getting older. It is an expensive investment considering it does not cover pre-existing conditions, you have to pay a deductible first and the cost of insuring goes up every year. That said it does help if your pet does need major expense like surgery that cost several thousands of dollars or a chronic illness. It is okay if you have only one or 2 pets and can afford the monthly premiums.

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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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