Pet insurance seems like an easy decision doesn’t it? On the surface it does but be sure to check the fine print for hidden exclusions. Depending on your dog’s lifestyle it could be a waste of money for you.
I have mixed feelings about having pet insurance. For many years I didn’t have it at all but did finally get it a few years ago.
I often get readers asking me about pet insurance, what kind I use (I have ASPCA pet insurance but am thinking about changing to Bivvy) and should they get it so I decided it was time for a post about it.
Check out a few pros and cons and decide for yourself.
Pros of Having Pet Insurance
The most obvious and important is piece of mind. Life is unpredictable; accidents and illnesses happen. It is heart-breaking to have to make medical decisions when your financial back is up against the wall. Pet insurance does help alleviate the financial burden of treatment costs so you will not have to choose between your dog and your bank account.
Other than private plans (such as the plans that Banfield has), you are free and clear to visit your favorite licensed veterinarian. There is a wide spectrum of pricing and deductibles that suit almost anyone’s budget. Of course, the higher the premium the higher the coverage. But most plans will offer coverage for accidents and serious illness at a reasonable rate.
Other coverage can include but is not limited to dental disease, surgeries, diagnostic testing, prescriptions, rehabilitation, holistic treatments and more. You can customize your policy to suit your needs.
Cons of Having Pet Insurance
Most policies do not cover annual wellness checks so you will still be responsible to pay out of pocket for your pet’s routine bloodwork, vaccines, teeth cleaning and flea and tick medicine on a yearly basis. Failure to check your pet’s health regularly could potentially affect your coverage.
Some policies will allow you to add on healthy vet check ups to your policy for an increased price. Mine does but still, only pays a portion of what the bill costs.
Not all dogs qualify for insurance. Older dogs usually won’t qualify. Dogs who have previous illnesses or injuries may qualify but anything to do with those previous conditions will not be paid for and your insurance premium may be higher if they know of previous health problems.
Typically sport type injuries are not covered unless you have chosen the highest premium level. If your dog is high risk for a pre-existing condition such as hip dysplasia be very careful to read whether your policy will cover treatment costs and if so at what price?
Rate increases are a possibility as your dog ages and/or if they develop a chronic illness.
Payment for all treatment is made by you upfront and sent in for reimbursement. There will be a maximum amount per year that you will be reimbursed for.
So you are still responsible for paying for your dog’s vet care. You just get reimbursed for a portion of it later on. It can be between a week to several months before you get the reimbursement.
To help make the decision if you should get insurance, consider your dog’s age, breed, lifestyle, medical history, and present health.
Alternatives to Pet Insurance
A Special Savings Account
I have a close friend who had a chihuahua that got sick with GME and racked up over $10,000 medical bills trying to save her precious pup Cricket. She didn’t have insurance for her pets and after Cricket got sick, there was no way she could get it. What she did have was a special savings account. She has money taken out of her paycheck that was automatically deposited into this account. She doesn’t notice or think about it since it’s taken out automatically but it’s there when she needs it for pet medical bills.
She even has a cute debit card for it that has dogs on it. So she’s putting the same amount of money in it that she would be paying for pet insurance, but the money is still hers, not the pet insurance company.
I like this idea. Even though I don’t plan on cancelling my pet insurance policies anytime soon, I do plan on doing this so I will have a nice little nest egg saved up by the time my dogs get to their senior years and the insurance premiums get too high to handle.
Most vets will take CARE credit cards. Of course this is a credit card, so you will have interest to pay if you use it. The good thing about this is even if you have insurance, you can use this card to pay upfront and then pay much of it off with the insurance reimbursement. You can find out more about them here.
I need to add this disclaimer: I had this years ago. I wanted to keep it on hand in case one of my pets had an emergency. Because I never used it, they cancelled the card! I don’t know if they still do this but wanted you to be aware of my experience.
Vet Care Discount Plans
This is a great alternative if your vet is on the list of approved veterinarians. Mine wasn’t. For a low price, you get a discount card, take it to your vet, and they give you a discount on their services. It seems much simpler than pet insurance but the drawback is finding a vet that is on the plan.
There are several companies like this out there but the one I like is Pet Assure.
So you can see, there are many reasons to have pet insurance and many reasons not to have it. Like I said at the beginning, I have mixed feelings about it. I can’t tell anyone whether they should get it or not. It’s definitely something you need to do some research on and see if it’s worth it for you.
I’d love to know if you do have pet insurance. And why or why not? Also if you have a really good experience with a pet insurance company or a really bad experience, I’d love to hear about that too. Leave a comment and let us know!