Pet insurance has always seemed like one of those frivolous expenses that you often don’t need, but when you do you wish you had it. I’ve never had a pet who needed an expensive procedure (other than dental cleaning, they sure gouge you on that) so I’ve never seriously considered it. I thought about it briefly when I got Stella but never did sign up. The closest thing I have to pet insurance is a Wellness Plan at Banfield for Quincy (my Manx cat). I only signed up because it included a yearly dental and the annual cost of the plan was less than a dental. It also includes other features I’ve never taken advantage of like vaccines, exams, wormer, etc.
With LBD coming the idea of pet insurance once again popped into my head, but so did lots of questions. Do I really need it? Is it worth it? How would I cope if I didn’t have it? My answers are: no, no, and have an emergency fund.
This article at Clean Run was really helpful in deciding what was best for us. My takeaway points from the article: pet insurance is mostly a psychological safety net that the majority of people don’t end up utilizing. The reimbursement on your claim is typically small — nowhere near what you paid out of pocket. Even if you have insurance you will still be required to pay the full amount up front to your vet, then get reimbursed later. Pre-existing conditions and the majority of genetic conditions aren’t covered, so most likely you’ll only be able to use this for things like cancer, snake bites, or car accidents. There are, of course, people who swear by pet insurance and get a lot out of it.
As mentioned in the Clean Run article you may be better served by “paying” the monthly insurance fee into a savings account just for pet emergencies. Last night I spent a lot of time on Get Rich Slowly so this immediately made the most sense to me! Let’s say I decided to get insurance through the AKC Healthcare Plan and I went with the Essential Plus plan, which I was quoted $40 a month. This plan essentially covers only cancer, accidents, and poisoning with no coverage for health maintenance or dentals. If I were to deposit $40 a month for 10 years I’d have $4800 available for any treatments that come up in LBD’s old age. This is assuming that LBD doesn’t eat a chew toy, develop a congenital disorder, or get hit by a car before then (knock on wood). So instead of paying out $480 each year for coverage I most likely won’t need and losing that money forever, I could have $4800 waiting for me in a time of crisis. I find that much more reassuring.
To me the whole pet insurance thing is throwing away money. For me, personally, it makes more sense to prepare for that possibility by saving an emergency fund rather than losing thousands of dollars. For you it may be different!