By Amanda Harper
Anyone who has taken their pet for an emergency vet appointment knows very well just how high pet care costs can go. In those times, it’s often tempting to pick up a brochure on pet insurance and sign on the dotted line. But is pet insurance right for you and your companion?
According to Consumer Reports, pet insurance generally costs more than it ever pays out. Their testing of the three major pet insurance providers said that pet insurance seemed to be a bargain only when pets had major surgeries or extremely costly medical interventions.
Don’t be hasty to call pet insurance a bad buy. With many different companies offering pet insurance, each will have unique pros and cons. Some pet insurance companies cover kennel fees, prescription medications, behavioral therapies, pet loss (including theft or straying), pet death and more. Rates tend to change based on the pet’s age and breed, but it may be the right buy for you. Remember to factor the price of your peace of mind!
If you opt for pet insurance, Consumer Reports strongly recommends doing some serious research before signing up. They say to always read the policy thoroughly to understand its terms and exclusions; understand that most pet insurance does not cover pre-existing conditions; ask about premium increases–including how and when you will be notified of increases; go for high deductibles on catastrophic coverage; avoid riders for wellness care.
Consumer Reports felt that the smartest “pet insurance” was to save money in a “kitty” (their pun, not mine) for emergencies. I recommend this for every member of your family, pets included! Set up a savings account, and then have a set amount of money automatically be transferred to it each month. You’ll always be saving money for emergencies without ever having to think about it!
What about your insurance? Sometimes, your homeowner’s or auto insurance policy may actually cover some veterinary expenses in the event of a covered accident. Contact your insurance provider to discuss this. For the most part, however, homeowner’s insurance policies cover only dog bites to people outside your family–with breed restrictions.
Is pet insurance the right choice for you and Fido? Do your research to uncover the risks and rewards. If you’re on the fence, discuss it with your veterinarian; they may have more specific recommendations that will help you make this decision!