Should You Buy Pet Insurance?

The answer is “It depends”.

I know, not what you wanted to hear.  Read on…

My husband and I treat our animals as if they are our kids. I would get a second and third job to take care of my pet. I love them like family.  I think most people do. And not everyone’s financial situation is the same. Therein lies the “It depends” answer.

The first cat I had lived to the ripe old age of 18 until she had a run-in with a topical flea treatment. I never gave pet insurance a thought.

We lost her after a 1 year battle, and 6 months later adopted again.  This new sweet little kitty had problem after problem starting at a very young age. She developed a dangerously high fever shortly after we got her, got a lump from her rabies vaccine that had to be biopsied then removed, developed cancer in her eye which had to be closely monitored by an (expensive but very, very good) ophthalmologist, eventually had to have her eye removed, suffered from IBD much of her life, and then devastatingly, developed FIP and died at the young age of 7.

I would have moved heaven and earth to have saved this cat.  It broke my heart to see her failing, and I seached and searched for answers. FIP is a horrible disease, and the diagnosis is not easy.  We did test after test to try and find an answer, hoping it was something else and we could save her, to no avail.

I need not tell you how expensive this all was.  We spent thousands upon thousands, until we lost her this past August. Only after the trauma wore off and the reality of the expense set in did I start to think about pet insurance and how that might have helped us. I vowed that if we ever adopted another pet, we would get it. Not that we wouldn’t do what we did again, but why not make it easier financially?

You never know with animals. Some can be perfectly healthy for a long time, others not so much. I have a friend whose dog got hit by a car the day he got him.  Accidents happen.  If you have the financial means to just pay as things come up, or the discipline to save in a fund for vet bills and what may come down the road, perhaps pet insurance doesn’t make sense. After all, there is a monthly cost involved, and it doesn’t cover everything.  Most policies also have a 14 day waiting period, and things your pet is seen for during that time will likely be excluded from coverage.

But if you worry that there might be some unforeseen event, or you may get a pet that keeps having issues and pet insurance would give you some financial aid, or not force you into the unthinkable of having to euthanize because you can’t afford the vet bills, it might be something to look at.

Five months after we lost Cailie, we decided to adopt a dog who had been rescued from a high kill shelter in KY.  We made the decision shortly after we got her to get pet insurance, and we are very fortunate we did. She has had medical bills totaling well over $4,500 in just the first few months, and the pet insurance has paid a good part of that.  It has been an enormous help.

With pet insurance, as with people insurance, coverage varies. You need to research and investigate and know what you want. Maybe just a basic policy is all you need for some relief “just in case”. Most experts agree that getting the wellness coverage doesn’t make great financial sense.  Every policy has different ins and outs, so you need to read the fine print.  Some pet health insurance sites such as Purinacare have compare features that let you compare the features of different vendors.

One thing we weren’t prepared for – although it’s a small investment (of time) compared to what we get financially in return. Remember the “old” days of having to fill out claim forms every time you visited the doctor? The “pre-HMO” days? Well welcome back. You’ll be doing a lot of that, and so will your vet if your pet has issues. All the vets I’ve encountered, though, have been more than happy to accommodate.  And I’ve found the payment to be prompt and fair from the insurance company.

Personally I think pet insurance is great. I would never be without it now. I will never feel I “wasted” my money on the premiums. It buys me peace of mind, just like my howmeowners and car insurance, so if I never had to use the insurance, I would still be happy.

It’s a personal decision.  A level of comfort.  A sense of security.  For you?  It depends…..

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