Is Pet Insurance Worth It?
Is Pet Insurance Worth the Investment?
As the loving owner of a cat or dog, you’ve likely heard of and may have even considered pet insurance. “Is it worth it?” you might even ask. This is a question to which we would answer “yes,” but don’t just take our word for it. Ultimately, it depends on whether you feel pet insurance is worth the cost once you take into account the money that you’ll potentially save. Before making a decision, it is important that you fully understand what pet insurance is, how it works, and how you’ll benefit from having it.
What Is Pet Insurance, and How Does it Work?
Pet insurance is designed to reduce the costs associated with medical care. Pet owners pay a premium to receive coverage on certain conditions and treatments specified by their plan. Common types of coverage include accident-only insurance and major medical. Unlike with insurance for humans, your pet insurance company will reimburse you a percentage of your total vet bill, even as much as 90 percent. Such a drastic reduction in your final out-of-pocket expenses can definitely make it worth getting pet insurance. Wellness plans are yet another type of coverage. While not technically considered to be true insurance, they cover preventative care such as physical exams and vaccinations.
Facts and Statistics
When you ask the question, “Is pet insurance worth it?” there are a few statistics and facts that you should take into consideration about pet injuries, veterinary care, and pet insurance. To help you determine the worth of pet insurance, facts about veterinary care can be illuminating. For example, every year in the U.S., there are approximately 120 million veterinary visits. Other facts that may help you decide whether pet insurance is worth the money include:
- Every year, one in three pets requires emergency treatment
- Every six seconds a pet owner is faced with a vet bill of more than $1,000
- Less than 1% of pet owners in the U.S. have pet insurance
- Puppies that are younger than a year old are more likely to require an unanticipated veterinary visit
The Cost of Pet Care
A part of determining whether pet insurance is worth the cost is understanding the expense of having a sick or injured pet. According to estimates made by the APPA, 2016 saw nearly $16 billion spent on veterinary care by pet owners in the United States. The rising costs of pet health care can be attributed to the high quality and standards associated with diagnosing and treating pets today. Animals are also now benefiting from expensive procedures that have traditionally been reserved for humans, such as MRIs. Check out some of the more common issues that a dog may have over the course of its life and the associated costs of treatment to get an idea of the expenses you might end up facing.
- Hip Dysplasia: $4,000 to $6,000
- Cataracts: $2,000 to $3,000
- Spinal Stenosis: $2,500 to $5,000
- Valve Disease: $8,000 to $15,000
- Disc Disease: $3,000 to $9,000
- Retinal Atrophy: $2,000 to $3,000
- Stomach Bloat: $1,500 to $7,000
- Poisoning: $250 to $5,000
- Torn Ligament: $3,000 to $6,000
- Broken Bones: $200 to $5,000
Source: Dog Health Conditions
Benefits of Pet Health Insurance
There are two personal and important benefits to having pet insurance, one of which is financial. Most people aren’t prepared for the financial burden that comes from having a pet that’s been diagnosed with a chronic illness or is suffering from an injury such as a fractured limb. While you could borrow money, use a credit card, or get a loan, they each have serious drawbacks. Pet insurance ensures that you’ll get a significant percentage of your money back when the insurer reimburses you, making pet care more affordable.
The second benefit is an emotional one. Some pet owners must make hard decisions when faced with a medical problem that could cost them thousands of dollars. The idea of euthanizing a pet or letting it suffer untreated can be emotionally devastating. Pet insurance eliminates those concerns and allows you to focus on the health of your pet.
Now that you are equipped with knowledge regarding the cost of veterinary care, pet insurance, and its benefits, it’s time to ask yourself, “Is pet insurance worth it?” Although we believe that it is, only you can make that decision. When you decide it’s time to sign up for a pet insurance plan, PetInsuranceQuotes.com is here to help you make the right choice. As the only licensed pet insurance agency in the United States, we’ll help you compare prices and plans offered by all 12 top insurers so that you can make an informed decision and select the best insurer for your pet.
It’s a personal decision for sure, but if your pet is part of the family and you would do anything for them then pet insurance is wise investment. To bring our point home let’s dig deeper into the primary benefits of pet health insurance.
1. Emotional Benefits
If you would spare no expense on your pet’s healthcare needs then you should definitely have pet insurance. In fact, according to a survey of over 1,000 pet owners, the #1 reason they purchased pet insurance was that they, “Wanted to prepare for unexpected health issues.”
Imagine your dog collapses and you rush him to the ER. The vet at the hospital tells you he can save your dog’s life but they have to do an emergency chest tap to control internal bleeding. He tells you it’s a safe procedure but the cost is going to be $3,000 to $5,000.
You have five minutes to make a decision and a million thoughts are bounding around in your head.
- Can I afford this?
- How am I going to pay?
- Is he going to be okay?
- What’s going to happen next?
If you have pet insurance you don’t have to think about money. You just tell the vet, “Do whatever you need to do.”
You can’t put a price on that.
And if customer reviews and stories don’t convince you, consider psychologist Hal Herzog’s piece in the New York Times titled, It’s Your Pet, and It’s Your Money.
“Spending $10,000 on chemo for your dog is no more unethical than spending it on a two-week vacation in Tuscany.”
Herzog does though point out two key exceptions to this rule…
- Money spent on your pet imposes a burden on the people in your life
- The treatment only prolongs your pet’s suffering
We agree with Herzog on all of his points and it’s just another reason by pet insurance is worth every penny for true pet parents.
2. Financial Benefits
According to a Bankrate survey most American’s aren’t prepared for unexpected expenses. In fact, only 37% of respondents said they would pay for a $1,000+ expense with savings. The rest would be forced to reduce spending, use credit cards or borrow from friends and family.
Each person is in a unique situation, but if you own a pet it’s important to be honest about what you can afford if your dog or cat needs life-saving treatment.
The average pet insurance policy costs $41 per month, which is only $492 per year.
Now let’s assume your dog needs treatment for cancer. Here is a simple example of how pet insurance claims work. Pet insurance companies pay claims based on your actual, total veterinary bills for cancer treatment.
|Cost of Treatment||$12,000|
|Reimbursed||($12,000 x 90%)|
|Total Claim Paid
Source: How do Claims Work?
In this simple example you would get a check for $10,600. If you saved $41 per month, like some “experts” suggest, it would take over 17 years to save enough to provide your dog with treatment. Do you want to take that risk with your pet’s health?
Veterinarians from all across the country weigh in on their perspectives and experiences with pet insurance. See what they have to say and decide for yourself if pet health insurance is the right thing for you and your pet.
“Get pet insurance, and get it before you need it. We get insurance for all kinds of valued and cherished things. Cherish your pet. People often ask me what type of dog they should get. Big, little, long hair, short hair. Is this or that breed good with kids or good in a small space and on and on. A lot of time and effort goes into their decision.”
Dr. Greg Perrault, DVM
“I tell pet owners to look at whether they’re paying for a wellness plan, an insurance plan or both. The marketplace is way too confusing on this issue and I think it’s hurting the industry.”
Dr. Patty Khuly, VMD, MBA
“Price and turnaround time for payment. I hope that animal insurance will continue to grow in the U.S. like it has in Europe. Many veterinarians are starting to offer wellness plans at discounted prices for preventative care which will help but they still need to have major medical coverage.”
Dr. Anna Coffin, DVM
“I ask my clients to make sure their plan covers illness and emergencies, not just wellness exams and vaccinations. If the pet is a puppy or kitten, I will ask owners to inquire about any congenital defects that their insurance would not cover. If the pet is geriatric, I ask the owners to inquire about pre-existing medical conditions that would not be covered.”
Dr. Chantal Acosta, DVM
“I think that people often have the wrong attitude about pet insurance. For example, it’s not uncommon for someone to say they would rather just open up a savings account to pay their veterinary expenses rather than “waste” money on pet insurance premiums. This person doesn’t understand the purpose of pet insurance.”
Dr. Doug Kenney, DVM
Support in the Press
If facts, statistics and real life stories don’t help maybe these unbiased, financial experts will help you make a decision.
“If you love your pet and you don’t have the money to cover an emergency medical situation that could cost thousands of dollars, I think you should consider pet insurance. You’ll get the lowest price if you buy when the animal is young. The bottom line: If you buy pet insurance and don’t use it, consider yourself lucky. But with pets living longer these days, your chances of using the policy are greater than ever.”
– Herb Weisbaum, ConsumerMan
“When our pet turned 10, we discovered she had cancer in her leg which required surgical removal and radiation and simultaneously she tore her other ACL. For an entire year, she went through procedure after procedure, and the bills have really been outrageous. Six hundred a year seems like pennies now.”
Brittney Weinerth, Pediatric Therapist
“Despite what the numbers say, the veterinarians I talked with were energetic about insurance and recommended it for animals of every size. There reasoning was that it offers peace of mind and works as a savings plan for larger bills that may come down the line. From a veterinarian’s perspective, it also means they’d likely have to put down less animals due to cost issues.”
Thorin Klosowski, Contributor
“As a veterinarian, it’s frustrating when you have a family that really wants to help their pets and they have to make a tough financial decision. They don’t want to put the pet to sleep, but they can’t afford the care you’re providing.” The toughest thing veterinarians face? Money dictating decisions about a pet’s life.”
Dr. Kerri Marshall, DVM
“Many people don’t realize that medical expenses are a big part of how much a dog really costs. Fortunately, pet insurance will ensure that you always have a way to keep your pet healthy, and the coverage can save you thousands of dollars over the course of your pet’s life.”
Angela Colley, Contributor
“Many people might feel that they would rather put money into an account to provide for emergencies with their pet. That may be a very good idea for ongoing veterinary costs, such as payment for check-ups. But what if something unexpected happens and you have to pay thousands of dollars for an operation for your dog? You’re unlikely to have saved that much money, especially if you’ve only been saving for a few months. If you have pet insurance in place, this can help with the cost.”
Wendy Diamond, Founder and CEO, Animal Fair Media
So, should you get pet insurance?
It’s a personal choice, but at least now you’re armed with enough research to make an informed decision. Our goal is not to convince every dog and cat owner in America to purchase a pet insurance plan. Our goal is to educate pet owners so that you can decide if pet insurance is right for you. And if you decide it is, we’ll help you find the right company and plan for your furry friend!