Thanks to the high cost of standard and emergency veterinary services today, I can't set foot in a veterinary office without seeing several ads for pet insurance. However, just like the human insurance equivalent, premiums vary from one animal to another. Prices for pet insurance vary based on breed, age and other factors. For many animal lovers like me, pet insurance oftentimes means the difference between the financial ability to get a pet a $5,000 operation and a $50 shot to euthanize it. Yet, even with that newfound knowledge, is pet insurance better than creative money management?
What Pet Insurance Covers…And What it Doesn't
In my study, I found that choosing pet insurance can be just as confusing as selecting your own health care plan. And, just like the care you take in choosing your own medical plan, you have to research the policy and your animal's history. To help me, I used PetMD to figure out the costs of general veterinary procedures versus the cost of pet insurance coverage.
Most Plans Cover:
- Diagnostic tests
Most Policies Don't Cover:
- Some policies don't cover dental procedures, cleanings or dental health problems.
- Most plans will not cover preexisting or hereditary conditions.
Choosing the Right Insurance
I used our 12-year-old cat as my subject. The least expensive premium that I was able to find for him was $11.45 a month, but with $1,000 deductible. To make it more disheartening, that plan only covered accidents and did not cover routine care -- something he needs more of as he ages. I found another plan with a $500 deductible, but the premiums for that plan were in excess of $400 a year -- more than I have spent on pet care in a single year after having owned cats all my life.
What the Pros Say
Breaking Down the Numbers
I got the quote for the Bronze plan. Using this plan, I would pay $1,300 on a $6,000 bill at the vet (worst case scenario), and my premiums would be $27 a month. The bottom line is that there is probably nothing that will happen to my cat that costs in excess of $6,000, at least, not at his age.
I added the $500 deductible plus the monthly premiums ($324 a year) and I found that I would be out $800 a year for pet insurance costs. Without the insurance, my cat's health care costs average $350 a year. By the numbers, the math just doesn't average out in favor of pet insurance for me. I'd rather put money in a CD or money market account and earn a few percentage points a year, instead of throwing cash away on premiums that will never pay me back, while still having the cash on hand to pay for my furry friend. The bottom line? Before buying into the hype of pet insurance, do the math for your pet and make an informed decision.
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