Healthy Family | Home Safety | Health and Wealth | Relationship Issues | Career Advice | Growing Family
Get the SixWise e-Newsletter FREE!
Google Web
Free Newsletter Subscription
Get the Web's Most trusted & Informative Health, Wealth, Safety & More Newsletter -- FREE!


Share Email to a Friend Print This

Is Pet Insurance a Good Investment? Find Out Why the Answer Depends on YOU

Bringing a pet into your home brings joy, companionship, love and a new friend for your entire family. And, inevitably, it brings something that's not always thought about at first, especially for new pet owners: veterinarian bills.

In the past five years alone, vet costs have risen 73 percent, to a whopping $19 billion.

About 5 percent of U.S. pet owners have pet health insurance.

To combat the skyrocketing costs of caring for your pet's health needs, pet health insurance companies offer all kinds of plans for just about every pet. They operate a lot like health insurance for humans, complete with deductibles, co-payments, annual premiums and limitations for pre-existing conditions.

Depending on what you want (and your budget), you can choose a full-coverage plan that will cover even routine care, or a plan that's just there for emergencies or major procedures.

An estimated 1 percent of U.S. companies have even begun to offer such coverage to employees. Rebecca Lewis, vice president for marketing and communications at Veterinary Pet Insurance Inc., said, "We've seen a real big interest from a corporate standpoint. With unemployment low, benefits become a real key part of retaining and obtaining new employees. The role of the pet has truly evolved. Pets are seen more as a family member."

But is health insurance for Fido really a good investment? The answer, it seems, depends not on your pet, but on you.

Who Should Get Pet Health Insurance?

An estimated 5 percent of U.S. pet owners have pet insurance, according to American Demographics magazine -- an increase of over 4 percent since 1995.

Like any kind of insurance, though, when you get health insurance for your pet, you are gambling that your total expenses will be higher than the amount you've paid in premiums, co-pays and other costs. On average, pet insurance can cost between $2,000 and $6,000 over the lifetime of your pet.

So, for someone who is prepared to do and spend anything to save their pet's life, and would not think of having it any other way, health insurance would be worthwhile. Keep in mind, too, that these days treatments for pets have become increasingly sophisticated. Maladies that would have been fatal for pets just a few years ago can now be cured -- at a price ranging from $1,000 to $5,000. Here are some of the newer treatments to hit the veterinary world:

  • Radiation therapy

  • Kidney transplants

  • MRIs for screening

If you know that you would spend thousands of dollars for medical procedures for your pet, should they arise, and spending it could send you into debt or worse, you're likely a good candidate for pet insurance.

If you opt for pet insurance, protect your pet by reading the fine print

On the other hand, if you know you would stop treating your pet if costs got too high, and instead put the animal to sleep, pet insurance may not be worthwhile for you. Likewise if you have ample savings to cover any health costs that may arise.

"About half see the pet as disposable. If it got really ill they just wouldn't treat it. [The other half] were willing to treat, whatever it took," said Jack Stephens, founder of Veterinary Pet Insurance (VPI), which conducted research on the issue.

Tips for Finding the Right Pet Insurance

So you've decided to go down the pet insurance route. Here are some things to look out for when choosing your plan:

  • Plans vary widely based on species, age, pre-existing conditions and lifestyle (indoor vs. outdoor). Take your time to find the best plan for you and your pet.

  • Watch out for exclusions based on pre-existing and hereditary conditions, such as hip dysplasia.

  • Some companies won't cover an animal over the age of 8 (unless covered prior to that age), and most charge higher premiums for older animals.

  • Most policies have caps on how much will be paid out annually, per incident, or over the pet's lifetime Watch for these and compare them, along with co-pays and deductibles, among companies.

  • Choose a reputable company that's registered with your state department.

  • Some companies offer discounts for multiple pets.

Get a Quick Pet Insurance Quote Now

To find a number of pet insurance companies, search online for "pet health insurance." You can also get a quick quote now from Veterinary Pet Insurance, which says they are the "nation's oldest and largest pet health insurance company."

Get a pet health insurance quote now!

If pet insurance is not for you, there are still methods that can save you money while keeping your pet in good health.

  • Ask your vet for health/wellness packages. Some offer discounts for vaccinations, spay/neuters or checkups for older pets.

  • Consider a discount program that offers 25 percent to 50 percent savings on pet care. Certain veterinarians and pet vendors belong to such programs.

  • Some humane organizations offer financial aid for pet care.

  • Feed your pet the best food you can afford. As with humans, low-quality food will make your pet more susceptible to disease.

  • Humane societies, vets and other pet organizations often offer low-cost clinics for vaccinations.

Recommended Reading

Winter Dangers to Your Pet: Don't Let Fido and Fifi Freeze!

The Top Household Dangers to Your Pets


MSN Money: Should You Buy Pet Insurance

Pet Health Insurance

Animal and Pet Health Insurance Tips and Secrets

Employers Offer Pet Health Insurance

To get more information about this and other highly important topics, sign up for your free subscription to our weekly "Be Safe, Live Long & Prosper" e-newsletter.

With every issue of the free newsletter, you’ll get access to the insights, products, services, and more that can truly improve your well-being, peace of mind, and therefore your life!

Share Email to a Friend Print This