Pet Insurance: To Buy or Not To Buy?

2013-12-04 23.45.02This is an ongoing debate I have in my mind, so I ask people about this all the time—do you have pet insurance for your dog, and if so, do you think it’s worth it?

I now have two separate experiences with this, and I will say that sometimes it pays for itself, and sometimes it does not.

First experience:   my large-size rescue dog got cancer and passed away in 2012.  He needed thousands of dollars’ worth of surgery and treatment.  Because I didn’t read the fine print of the pet insurance policy I had on him, I basically got paid the maximum possible on a cancer claim, which was $2500.  As anyone with a dog with a serious illness can attest, this was only a portion of the bill for the surgery.  However, the payout DID pay back everything I had paid into the premium for all the years I had the insurance on him, so that essentially made the insurance free.   I think I was at fault on this one, because I just didn’t know what to buy, plus my dog had a bunch of pre-existing conditions, so many of my claims for him were not covered.

Second experience:  brand new puppy (shown here).  OK, this is the one where I felt like my experience paid off.  This time I opted for a more expensive policy that included things like “basic wellness” and had higher payouts.  This plan was more expensive, but WOW HAS IT ALREADY PAID FOR ITSELF in her short (9 months) of life.   If you’re getting a new puppy, I can’t recommend the pet insurance enough, because that puppy is ALWAYS at the vet for shots/ de-worming/ puppy-related injuries during the first year of their life.  By “puppy-related injuries,” I of course mean things like “running too much and tripping/ pulling their hamstring” and stuff like that.

Basic health maintenance and serious illnesses aside, pet insurance also becomes a huge benefit if your pet happens to be in some kind of accident (like being hit by a car).   It would be absolutely heartbreaking to be in a position where you would have to choose between medical care for your beloved companion and paying your own bills, but in an emergency pet care/ accident situation, that is exactly the kind of thing that can happen.  That is when having pet insurance can definitely be a lifesaver, and when you’ll be happy you have it.

Bottom line:  I usually carry at least a “minimum coverage” policy on all pets in my home, just in case of something like an accident.   I have recently started getting “wellness” covered in these policies, and I find that it is a much better deal.

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