Should you buy pet health insurance?

Caring for your pets can be expensive. Here's a look at whether pet health insurance is a good investment.

By , Guest blogger

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    Pets, like the pug dog shown here, are a part of the family for many people, but how much is too much when it comes to paying for pet expenses? Does pet health insurance save money for a family who has pets today and probably will always have pets in the future?
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One of the expenses I’ve wrestled with in the last few years is with our pets. Beyond purchasing pet food, kitty litter, a dog bed and other common pet supplies, there is a lot of money tied up in routine and non-routine veterinary visits. Pets are a part of our family as they are for many people. They’re fun to have around and the kids love them.

But, I’ve often wrestled with the question of how much is too much when it comes to paying for pet expenses. Certainly, you want to take care of your pets and make sure they get the care they need. And when they become sick or unhealthy, hopefully, you want to make sure they are treated properly.

So, as someone who is trying to manage money wisely and be realistic about future expenses, I decided to explore further whether or not it makes sense to pay for pet insurance. And specifically, does pet health insurance save money for a family who has pets today and probably will always have pets in the future? If so, you can probably plan for some sort of non-routine care in the future.

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How much would you pay?

As an article at MoneyCentral.com points out, the question becomes, how much would you pay for your pet and would you be able to pay that amount with cash? That’s a tough question to wrestle with, if you really think about it. There can be a lot of emotional issues tied up in that decision.

The article points out pet expenses have increased because today Veterinarians can perform a lot of treatments they haven’t been able to perform in the past. With more advanced treatments for health problems and diseases you have more options when your pet is ill. The increased options come at a price.

About the policies

Interestingly, the policies don’t cover all expenses according to the article. They have deductibles that must be met, co-pays and caps on how much can be paid each year. You can also count on the exclusion of certain pre-conditions (maybe we need pet health care reform ) Premiums also cost more if your pet is older.

Apparently, Veterinary Pet Insurance is the oldest insurer with the largest percentage of the pet insurance market share. I decided to run over to their website and look further into the options available. They offer insurance for dogs, cats and exotic animals. For dogs, they have plans for injury, medical and major medical and different coverage options within each. The medical plan offers 4 deductible options starting at $100 all the way up to $1000. Obviously, a quote is going to differ based on the type of animal and conditions.

So, is pet insurance a good idea?

Consumer reports suggested that pet insurance may be a dog. The article reported there are a lot of exclusions, but even so, statistics show it is still an increasing trend to buy insurance for your pet.

According to the article, the American Pet Products Manufacturers Association says annual surgical vet visits cost on average $453 per dog and $363 per cat.

So, what do they conclude from this information? If you have an older animal which is likely to need treatment (not sure how you can determine that) and can find a policy in which you’d pay less than these amounts per year, you might consider pet insurance.

Alternative approach to pet insurance

But consumer reports does go onto mention if you can’t find insurance cheaper than the above mentioned annual costs, put your money in an interest bearing savings account and build up a savings for such expenses.

This is good advice, in my opinion. Honestly, I wasn’t too high on considering the idea of pet insurance when I started writing and researching this article, but it has spawned an important thought about savings. While it’s a good idea to save for items around the house that may need future repair or maintenance, it would certainly make sense to think about animal healthcare too.

In fact, I think I would feel much more comfortable putting extra money into a savings account or freedom account to plan for such future expenses. Of course, you have to find the extra money in your budget to do so, right? This might take some squeezing, but your pet situation will depend on how hard you need to squeeze.

But at least with socking away this extra money, you’ll have it available if you need it. If you’re pet doesn’t ever require these services you’ll at least have the extra savings. My advice? Save for your pet and skip the insurance.

So, what’s your take on pet insurance? Do you think it’s a good idea to buy it?

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