The cold-hearted financial answer is relatively simple, so we’ll get it out of the way. Economically and statistically, it does not make sense to buy pet insurance. Consumer Reports compared nine pet wellness plans several years ago, and in each case a hypothetical pet owner paid out more in premiums than they would have if they had merely paid the vet bills out of their pocket (as if that’s possible for most of us). It was only after they gave their example pup a few (purely hypothetical, no worries) health issues that pet insurance began to be worth it. Many pets fall ill in their lives, so the costs may be closer to even over the lifespan of the pet. However, the odds still say it is cheaper just to pay the vet bills and skip the insurance.
Clearly, you can’t anticipate when your pet is going to be sick. There’s no way to buy your pet insurance just before your dog falls ill, then cancel the policy after they are cured. You would have to purchase your pet insurance policy and pay the premiums knowing that you are most likely paying more than you need to.
However, while straightforward pet insurance may not be worth it financially, there are possible ramifications to playing those odds. Sometimes your pet will fall ill. If your pet does face a significant health issue, then the cost of treatments can quickly become an issue. While vet bills don’t get quite as high as hospital bills, frequently, the rarer and more involved procedures can cost thousands of dollars. A trip to an emergency veterinary clinic can quickly cost hundreds or even thousands of dollars. The cost of medications can also run up quite quickly. While our emotions say to pour all of our resources into caring for our pet, that is not always possible. If the cost becomes more than you can pay… Well, that is another decision most pet owners have faced, and it is not a pleasant one.
It is at these moments that pet insurance becomes a much more worthwhile investment. Because you have been paying those premiums, you are suddenly able to afford a much wider range of treatments. Now, money may not always, or even frequently be the deciding factor in treatment choice for your pet. However, as in many things in life, greater financial freedom means more options. With pet insurance, you can feel safe knowing that if your pet does fall ill, you are much more likely to be able to care for them.
I’m Buying – What Do I Need To Know?
As mentioned up above, pets are considered property (legally speaking, that is), and so pet insurance is actually (and, admittedly absurdly) a form of property insurance. It is not health insurance (even though it is considered veterinary insurance), though some policies may look similar to human health insurance policies. When considering which policy to buy, it may often seem like you are comparing apples and oranges, so it’s important to have a good understanding of the basics.