Pet Health Insurance – Seriously?

by Tim on December 13, 2010

truffle___Our family welcomed a new addition to our family last month – a puppy.  Her name is Truffle and she’s a three-month-old chocolate lab.  (Yes that really is her in the picture)   She’s been a lot of fun, but with ‘great fun comes great responsibility.’  Ok, well I made up that quote, but she is a lot of work.

If you’ve ever owned a pet, you’ll know about the financial costs associated with keeping one.  That’s another article in and of itself, but something I learned through this whole process is the idea of pet health insurance.  After the normal vet checkup, my wife came home and asked if we would get the pet health insurance for Truffle.  I stood there puzzled and said, “What?!”  I had never heard of such a thing – pet health insurance, go figure!

How Much Does Pet Health Insurance Cost?

Curious, I had to find out what the costs were with such a policy, so I did a little research.  I pulled information from three major pet health insurers and found this information for the most basic plans.

AKC Pet Health Insurance

Deductible – $100
Incident Max – $2,000
Monthly Premium – $18.42


VPI Pet Health Insurance

Deductible – $500
Incident Max – $7,000
Monthly Premium – $15.58

Pets Best Insurance

Deductible – $500
Incident Max – $2,500
Monthly Premium – $11.23

After looking at these quotes, I realized that it wasn’t THAT bad cost wise.  If I had to choose one, I suppose it would be the VPI insurance because of the maximum incident coverage, but adding an extra $15 bill to my monthly expenses didn’t seem good.

Here’s the breakdown

Monthly premium: $15
Average life of pet: 120 Months
Lifetime premium payments:  $1800
Deductible per year: $500

I guess the question is this: am I willing to pay $1800 for the lifetime of our pet to insure against the high costs of keeping her alive if she needed medical attention.  Oh and I can’t forget the $500 deductible that we’d pay before the insurance would start to cover 80% up to $7,000 of the annual bill.

The Verdict

I’m leaning towards no insurance, sorry Truffle.  Yes, the idea of putting your pet down because of a disease or cancer is a terrible thought, but pets have a limited life and will eventually pass on.  The cost of insurance is well over $2,000 and if treatment for Truffle starts to get in the 2-3k range…it’s probably a severe medical issue that is causing her so much discomfort that it may not be humane to let her suffer through it.

Have you purchased pet insurance?  Are you for or against the idea of it?

{ 19 comments… read them below or add one }

Fernando December 13, 2010

Hope she doesn’t get in any medical trouble!
By the way, she’s adorable!

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manda December 20, 2010

I’m completely against it. I don’t have coverage for myself let alone my pet. I come first. lol

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Chryssa December 13, 2010

I work at Pets Best Insurance and my dog is covered by a Pets Best policy. For me, it is well worth the $16 per month so I know she’s covered in case something happens. You’ve only had Truffle for a few months, so maybe you’ll change your mind about pet insurance once you’re more bonded and you can’t imagine life without her!

Also, I want to mention that this is a very general overview of three pet insurance companies. There are lots of details a pet owner would need to consider. For example, VPI might offer a higher Incident Max, but there may be caps on how much they’ll consider for each incident. (It’s called a benefit schedule and you can easily find it on their site.)

It’s good that you looked into this and we certainly appreciate being considered.

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Tim December 13, 2010

@ Fernando Thanks : ) she’s pretty darn cute

@ Chryssa – Thanks for stopping by and commenting! There are a lot of different factors when considering any insurance and this was a pretty brief overview. $16 a month isn’t going to break our budget and maybe I’ll be more receptive to it later.

Since you work in the industry you probably know the answer to this question – will the premiums ever go up?

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Chryssa December 16, 2010

Every company has its own way of calculating prices, but with Pets Best Insurance the rates are based on the age, breed and location of the insured pet. Prices are not affected by filing claims.

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retirebyforty December 13, 2010

From what I understand pet insurance has a lot of holes. It doesn’t cover surgery and all kind of serious medical issues. I save up some money just in case and don’t buy pet insurance.

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Candiss December 13, 2010

I have a hard enough time affording health insurance for my kids! We aren’t going to pay an extra $15 a month to insure our dog! That adds up fast! We love our dog and do our best to take good care of him, but we will take our chances! Thanks for the info!

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Tim December 14, 2010

@ Joe – I think we’re just going to save a little extra in case we need it. Thanks for the input and good advice!

@ Candiss – $15 a month can add up fast! Not to mention all the money we’ll be spending on dog food, treats, toys, etc.. Thanks for commenting :)

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Dr. Doug Kenney December 14, 2010

There are about a dozen pet insurance companies in the U.S. They all have their own unique policies.

Pet insurance is no different from any other type of insurance in that you buy it in case you have an expense you cannot meet out of pocket. A seriously ill or injured pet can easily cost hundreds to thousands of dollars.

I am a practicing veterinarian that also has a blog on pet insurance at http://www.petinsuranceguideus.com.

Another good resource is petinsurancereview.com. and pet-insurance-university.com.

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Tim December 14, 2010

Thanks for the resources Dr. Kenney!

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Invest It Wisely December 14, 2010

I don’t know. What if they need to have an operation only a couple of years on? I agree that it’s pointless to let the animal suffer, though. When the time comes, we need to be willing to let go. Our furry friends unfortunately aren’t immortal. :(

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Evan December 14, 2010

I love chocolate labs! We have pet insurance on our dog solely because the monthly premium is worth never having to ask the question “what is too much to spend on a medical procedure?”

Congrats on the pups

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Amy@ClickClackMom December 14, 2010

Hi!

Dave Ramsey actually talked about this in one of his episodes and comes to the same conclusion. He says to save money for pet care, but that HE wouldn’t insure his dog because he wouldn’t pay a couple thousand dollars if something really bad happened.

We don’t have it, but wouldn’t rule it out in the future:)

Thanks!

Amy

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Tim December 16, 2010

@ Evan Thanks! I see your point. Insurance gives you a peace of mind about those kinds of emergencies.

@ Amy Thanks for your comment! I figured Dave would be against it :) Taking the ‘savings approach’ is probably what we’ll do now – but like you said, ruling it out altogether isn’t something we’re going to do either.

Thank you both for commenting!
Tim

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Joe Plemon December 16, 2010

We have owned pets ever since we have been married (40 years) and have never purchased pet insurance. However, I didn’t know such a product existed until recently. The key is to be self insured and be willing to dip into your self insured fund (emergency fund?)if your beloved pet needs the care. Otherwise, that $15 a month might be worth it.

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Tim December 16, 2010

That’s a great point – if you can’t stomach the idea of using your emergency fund for pet care, $15 a month might be the way to go. If you do set aside an emergency fund, my question is – how much are you willing to spend? $500, $1,000, $5,000?! I have no idea..

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Sandy @ yesiamcheap.com December 16, 2010

When we got Puppy (no her name, but she likes to be anon) a year ago we went through the same thing. The ONLY thing I would have used it for was in getting her spayed. Those are the only times that the rates are really as low as you’ve been quoted. They go up as the pet ages and covers less. There was a litany of things that they didn’t cover based on breed, etc. I decided against getting it because it wasn’t worth it to me. I love, love, love my baby but I know my limit would probably be $500 for something serious. I can save that money and she’ll be just fine.

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Tim December 16, 2010

I think the plan we were looking at (from the Vet) included her getting fixed. That made it tempting.

It makes sense that they’d increase the premiums as the pet ages…haha, made me think of the Colonial Penn commercial with Alex Trebek saying “Your premiums will never increase and coverage will never decrease due to age” ….maybe the animals need Alex to represent them on a commercial :)

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Kay Lynn @ Bucksome Boomer December 16, 2010

Truffle is adorable (and my favorite color of lab)!

We have a very spoiled 4 y/o basset hound and a 7 y/o cat. They don’t have insurance but do get regular care. I would consider ourselves self-insured when it comes to our pets.

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