When you adopt a pet, there are a few questions you need to ask yourself, one of which is whether or not pet insurance is worth getting. The decision to adopt a pet isn’t a decision that should be taken lightly: It’s costly, it’s a large time commitment, not all residential buildings allow pets, and it’s a big commitment. Owning a pet is like having a child: You are responsible for its well-being, and it’s up to you to ensure he or she is well cared for, healthy and happy.
According to the North American Pet Health Insurance Association, roughly 1.4 million pets across the U.S. and Canada were covered by pet insurance in 2014. However, that’s only 1% of the 174 million domestic dogs and cats! So, is pet insurance something to invest in?
The honest answer is, it depends. If you are financially secure and can afford to pay for an emergency surgery (which can cost upwards of $5,000), then you may want to risk it and go without pet insurance. However, if you do not feel you have enough disposable income to afford something like that, you may want to look into buying pet insurance.
More and more employers are offering pet insurance as an additional employee benefit, so if you work for a company that will cover your pet insurance costs, we highly recommend it. If not, then the decision to invest in pet insurance is entirely up to you. Hopefully, it’s something that you’ll never have to use. However, no one can predict whether his or her pet will become sick or injured, so if you want peace of mind, pet insurance may be worth it for you.
Is Pet Insurance Worth Getting?
When asking, “Is pet insurance worth getting?,” you should first ask what does pet insurance cover and what does pet insurance not cover.
Is Pet Insurance Worth Getting: What Does It Cover?
In brief, pet insurance covers accidental injury and illness. If your dog becomes a bit too energetic playing with another dog and tears his ACL, pet insurance will help cover the costs.
Similarly, if your cat develops feline leukemia, pet insurance help cover the costs.
Is Pet Insurance Worth Getting: What Does It Not Cover?
To see a full list, you’ll need to contact your pet insurance provider, as coverage varies by plan. However, for the most part, pet insurance does not cover routine vet visits, grooming, hip dysplasia, hereditary conditions and more.
What Are Some of the Most Common Pet Insurance Claims?
To better answer the question “Is pet insurance worth getting?,” let’s look at some of the most common claims and their costs without pet insurance.
As you can see in the graphic above, veterinary costs can be quite costly. The most common claims for both cats and dogs are in regards to stomach issues, which can cost $6,500 for both dogs and cats! Both dogs and cats are curious animals and often ingest things they shouldn’t, whether it’s too much food, toxic plants or even household items (or worse). When it comes to dogs, the most common items vets have to surgically remove from the pet’s gastrointestinal tract include:
Would you want to pay $6,500 because your dog decided to eat rocks?! We wouldn’t either, but pets are family members, and if that’s the only alternative, you really don’t have a choice.
Is Pet Insurance Worth Getting? A Case Study
A veterinary student at Cornell learned firsthand how expensive curious cats can be when her cat, Fawkes, ingested part of a lily plant leaf, which can be quite toxic to cats and lead to fatal kidney failure. As symptoms can take 12 to 48 hours to show up, treatment often involves a few days’ stay and observation in the intensive care unit of a veterinary office, which can add up.
In this particular case, Fawkes spent three days in intensive care, undergoing a plethora of tests, medications, fluids and more. The cost would have been $1,783, but thankfully Fawkes’s owner had purchased pet insurance. His owner paid the $1,783 up front, as pet insurance reimburses you after you have paid, unlike human insurance. However, she was then reimbursed $1,327. Rather than pay nearly $2,000, his owner paid just shy of $400. For her, pet insurance was clearly worth it.
Is Pet Insurance Worth Getting? Talk to Your Vet
If you don’t know whether pet insurance is worth getting, talk to your vet. He or she can give you an idea of common medical issues your pet is susceptible to based on breed, age and other factors. The vet can also give you information on costs associated with these ailments to aid in your decision-making process.
Next, take a look at a few different pet insurance providers. Download sample policies from their website, as policies vary depending on what type of pet you have, its breed, age, location and more. Pay particular attention to what is covered, what is not covered and how much reimbursement is provided for various ailments. Look at the costs associated with the top five ailments your pet is most susceptible to. Can you afford to pay these costs out of pocket? If the answer is yes, then perhaps you can forgo pet insurance. If no, then perhaps you should consider it.
Can’t Afford Health Insurance? Here Are a Few Alternatives
If you cannot afford a monthly pet insurance plan, consider starting an emergency savings fund for your pet. Consumer Reports’s senior editor, Tobie Stanger, believesthis is a better alternative to pet insurance, saying, “Our conclusion is that for a generally healthy animal this insurance is probably not worth the cost.” Instead, put a few hundred dollars a year into an account for your pet so it’s there should emergencies occur.
If you forgo pet insurance and your savings fund is still not enough to cover a costly surgery or treatment, talk to the Humane Society. They have a list of list of organizations that may be able to help contribute funds.
What do you think: Is pet insurance worth getting? Tell us in the comments.