Friday, May 14, 2010

Pet Insurance: Accidents and Catastrophic Expenses

You love your dog and you want to know if you should shell out the dollars for your doggie's pet insurance.
This is Part 5 of our series, intended to help you think through this decision.

Let's talk dollars and sense, again.  Joey's first trip to the emergency animal medical center, after he was hit by the car (if you're following our story), cost us almost $4,000. 
Let's emphasize that this covered the first five days of emergency trauma care and hospitalization.

Then due to the nature of the ankle fracture, our dog required surgery one month later. That cost just under another $3,000.

Then we add in the additional visits for bandages changes, which were supposed to be weekly for umpteen weeks but our darling chocolate Lab insisted on chewing his bandages and so sometimes we ended up bringing him to the vet twice weekly and if it was an emergency visit, the price tag was even higher.  (I emphasize that in no way are we complaining about our vet or the quality of service. It was the best. I'm just laying out the dollars and cents facts.) So our total spent was somewhat above $7000 to heal Joey (not including our time!).

But I'm not complaining so let's move on:

So notice the figure from our first post about pet health insurance
With a premium of $62 per month, we would have paid $7400 in health insurance in those ten years.
Notice the similarity of the amounts? That means that as of the time Joey was hit by the car, the amount we would have paid into a health insurance policy for him and the amount that we actually paid for his injury would have been equal!

So we ask you the question again: Would you not be better off - in the long run - not purchasing a health insurance policy for your dog, and spending the money as needed?

Let's review: 
What happened to Joey, i.e. his getting hit by a car, was not a pre-existing condition.  It was not a result of a congenital defect (unless you want to consider his enthusiasm for life and for digging his way out as one!).  So we are clear there.

Had Joey had some condition such as hip dysplasia, we would have been paying premiums all along and then the insurance company may have told us that they wouldn't cover him due to its being a congenital defect.

We did have to have a lot of money available, at the drop of a hat, though the hospitals will accept credit cards . But remember, even with pet health insurance, you have to have money up front, as you pay first (and wait until you find out whether they will reimburse you) and they (may or may not) reimburse you.

For us, at eleven years old next month, Joey is now doing great.
He's back to minimal annual examinations and pet care: Heartworm pills, tick and flea Heartguard, food, the cost of kennels etc. when we go out of town, Omega 3 fish oils, Glucosamine/Chondroiten, etc. Routine stuff that your pet insurance isn't going to cover anyway.

But we are going to bet on Joey's continuing to be healthy, and that for a long while at least he's going to continue running.  To us, we're going to say it would be "a wash", economically, that is.  So we feel we're better off in having not purchased Joey a policy, and having done everything we could to maintain his good health!

Oh, and we're keeping a much more careful watch on our dog than we did in the past, to make sure he doesn't get out of the yard again unattended!

But if you're that college student with a new puppy and very few financial resources, and your puppy gets sick, maybe you need to consider a different path. But, like beginners luck with gambling, will you know when to walk away from the slot machine after your big win so that the house won't always win?  Or will you understand the expression, "Bad money follows good?"  Unless you're a senior with a young dog to keep you company, in most cases, I think "the house will win".

By the way, please add your comments and share your experience with pet illness and insurance.

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