Pet Health Insurance–Needed Or Not?

pet health insurance surgeryWe’ve had one cat and two dogs die of cancer without the benefit of pet health insurance.  So Dave and I know how it feels to be a pet parent with a sick baby.  Some of our staff have had the experience also of their pets suffering life threatening injuries and having to foot expensive veterinary bills.  So we did a bit of research on the subject of pet health insurance.  Here’s what you need to know:

Pet Health Insurance Then And Now

At one time, pet health insurance was something owners just never needed–not only was the public’s attitude toward their pets more like property, but veterinary science had not caught up to the technology offered to human patients.  However, now vets can offer radiation therapy, kidney transplants, MRIs, open heart surgery and cancer treatment, just to name a few.  So the price tag for emergency care has gone up–and pet health insurance is firmly on the table of choices.

Is Affordable Pet Health Insurance Possible?

In a world where more than 12 billion dollars is spent annually on veterinary care, even places like the American Kennel Club and Petco have partnered with insurers to offer  pet health insurance.  And employers such as Office Depot and Google offer the coverage as part of their employee benefit packages.  Vets say that more often than not, if pet parents had invested in pet health insurance before a major illness or injury, they would not have had to resort to euthanasia of a pet that could have been saved.  However, Consumer Reports did a study a few years back, the result of which was a recommendation that pet owners avoid pet health insurance premiums, and instead start a pet health savings account in case of an injury or illness.

What To Look For In Pet Health Insurance

pet health insurance piggy bank

But let’s say you do want to go ahead with obtaining pet health insurance–what should you look for?

  1. Is the insurer registered with your state?
  2. What is the deductible?  How much are co-pays, caps or limits?
  3. What are the exclusions?  (Such as hip dysplasia in certain breeds.)
  4. Is there a pre-existing conditions clause?
  5. Is there a difference in cost according to the age of your pet?
  6. How does the cost of one company’s policy compare to another?  (This can vary widely!)

If you’re getting the feeling it’s much like shopping for human insurance–you’re right!  And just like your own policy, the purchase of pet health insurance is more an exercise in risk management than anything else.  Statistics show that most people are not going to get back what they pay out in premiums for pet health insurance.

On the other hand, the people that have are pretty happy they made the investment.


 Joy JonesJoy Jones, Publisher, is also the Vice President of Your Pet Space, a cage free dog boarding facility serving the greater Las Cruces, NM area.  She is also a  syndicated columnist living with her husband Dave (below). When not working on Your Pet Space, she writes a metaphysical column, as well as urban fantasy and humor. You can e-mail her at as well as send her a friend request on Facebook.

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