Thursday, May 13, 2010

Health Insurance for Your Dog or Cat: Do the Math

This is the fourth installment in our series, "Pet Insurance: Is It Worth It? 

You have this darling little black Lab and you love him so much. Do you get health insurance for him? 
At this point, you may be asking yourselves, "So? What is she going to say in her blog? Is it worth it for me (or us) to purchase health insurance for my cat?" Will I be a horrible pet owner if I do not purchase this pet health insurance?
Here's what I do:  I go onto the web and find one site that reviews pet insurance companies. I see one.  They provide rave reviews from satisfied customers, three satisfied customers. Here are how the three rave reviews begin, and I'll paraphrase, so I don't get sued:
  • Your 11 month old Golden Retriever has accidentally swallowed a stone about the size of a small egg."
  • You're a college student who really can't afford the hidden costs that come with a dog. That being said, ... You spend the approximately $400 to buy the full coverage (0% copay, $50 deductible) .... You figure that, with the average checkup alone costing $120, it would be worthwhile, not to mention the potential for all sorts of terrible things happening to your dog. And you are right! A few months later, your beloved dog tears the ACL in his rear right leg, which requires major surgery.
  • You have a 9-month old Wheaton Terrier. When your puppy was 4 months old she had surgery for ectopic uretors and at 8 months she needed to have her right kidney removed.

In each of the above cases, the dog is very young when he or she is injured.
The owner has invested very little money in his/her pet's health insurance before the dog has had an illness. Of course the owner is going to think he got a good deal.

Pet insurance is also being recommended for seniors.
  A senior will get a pet when he or she is older in life, as a companion, and at that age is often of limited financial resources. If the senior gets a young dog, this can make sense.

So you do the math. 
The dog or cat is young (you've paid out very little into the insurance fund) and has a catastrophic illness (lots of money here). Since the dog or cat is young, there are no pre-existing conditions (which would mean you get no reimbursement). Seems like a win-scenario for the pet owner.  (But keep in mind from our Part 2, that usually you still have to pay the medical bills up front, and you get reimbursed.)

If you and your pet don't satisfy these conditions, we still ask the question: Might not it be preferable for you to put money aside every month into your own insurance savings account for your pet, to use if and when needed, and to then have for yourself, again, if not needed?
So what about our situation, with our dog Joey?  Would purchasing pet insurance for him have saved us any money, in the long run? Stay tuned for our next and final installment of this topic, "

Pet Insurance: Is It Worth It? Should You Purchase It?

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