Pet Insurance – Is It Worth It?

By: DogTrekker Staff
Rhonda Stallings, DVM
Arroyo Veterinary Hospital, Sonoma, CA

People ask me this question all the time and my answer is, “it depends”. Pet insurance is great if the policy will help cover all those unexpected problems or emergencies that occur in out pets’ lives. However, you will need to spend a bit of time researching your choice.

Rhonda Stallings

Look for breeds that might be excluded in the policy. Look for hereditary or genetic conditions that won’t be covered. Of course, you must also compare the monthly premium, co-pay, deductible and any annual or lifetime limits on coverage.

Also, keep in mind that pet insurance payments usually work differently from human health insurance – you pay the veterinarian up-front and the insurance company reimburses you, not the veterinarian.

The Veterinary News Network recently conducted a test of five different insurance companies by submitting a real case involving a three-year-old Great Dane that developed a fairly rare spinal cord disease only 8 months after being adopted. The veterinarian recommended surgery that would cost up to $10,000. Two of the insurance providers would have paid out no benefit – ZERO! The other three would pay out anywhere between $7,000 and $8,750.

Veterinary medicine has made leaps and bounds in diagnosing and treating difficult cases, and with that knowledge comes a price tag.  So as with all insurance we play a game of risk as to whether or not we will need to use it.

Many of my clients have insurance and are very happy with its results – others not so much.  I do know that when a client comes to me with a severe problem and they have insurance, they are much more likely to proceed with treatment than those without insurance. Last week we diagnosed three pets with lymphomas, one of the more treatable kinds of cancers that affect dogs and cats.If you decide not to purchase pet insurance, I recommend you open a savings account and deposit money every month so you have a cushion just in case something unexpected may happen! Download this handy list of 20 Questions to help you choose a pet insurance provider.