Myth # 3: Pet Insurance is Not Worth it

So, here is a little video I found that explains, kind of in story form, how important it is to get pet insurance.

I have personally had this experience with three different pets– I always get the insurance, and I have never once been sorry that I did. I think alot of people think of this as one of those “extra expenses” that they can’t justify, and I agree with that in the case of those “Wellness Care” packages that cover things like shots and routine visits like physicals (if those are required by your state to renew your pet’s license).  For those, you’re going to be better off just going out of pocket.  I do think it is always worth it to carry an “accident and illness” policy on your pet, though, and here is why I think it makes sense:

Vets are expensive.   Medications for pets are expensive.  Hospital stays for pets are SUPER expensive (especially if your pet is diagnosed with a serious illness or is involved in an accident).    Pet insurance, for me, has always been an expense that has paid for itself during the lifespan of the pet (and that is three times out of three).    In the case of the first dog I ever had, we had insurance on him because we were just out of college and had almost no “margin for error” in terms of expenses, meaning– one wrong move that resulted in a big expense and we would have had to give up the dog.   Think about that– that gives you no margin for mistakes, because all it takes to send you dog to the vet is, like, they eat something bad when you’re not looking, and they might end up needing thousands of dollars worth of surgery.  I have known more than one person who has gotten a pet, then ends up holding a “GoFundMe” fundraising campaign when that pet gets sick or falls wrong and needs surgery.   A vet hospital does not have a “charity” wing, so basically they exist to make money.  They are not going to help you if you can’t pay your bill– they are going to force you into a payment plan or make you use a credit card, which might become an even bigger nightmare for you if you can’t pay it off right away, because then you’re out the thousands for the vet bill/ hospital stay/ surgery, PLUS the fees from the credit card, and you probably know very well that the credit card companies LIVE for you to pay your bill late (or to not pay the whole balance) so they can charge you that 25% interest.

The dog from the example above lived to be 13, and I had insurance on him his whole life.   He ended up getting cancer (as many big dogs do when they get old), and with ONE SURGERY, the insurance ended up paying over $2,000, which pretty much reimbursed me for those 13 years of paying the monthly premiums.   Before that surgery, though, I had used the insurance several other times (like when a dog bit him at the dog park or when he caught a stomach bug and got dehydrated), so all in all, I might have been cashflow positive on the life of the policy.  I know, that is a weird thing to say about your beloved (now departed) dog, but I really do want to emphasize the fact that I think pet insurance is actually really essential.   I think there is a commonly-held belief that pet insurance is stupid and that it’s just an unnecessary, frivolous expense, but I think people only really think this UNTIL something goes very wrong with their pet and they get that first huge bill, and by then it’s too late.      Ideally you would start the insurance policy WAY before you ever need to use it, although with my most recent dog, we got her when she was a tiny baby puppy, so I got the “full coverage” insurance and started using it as soon as it went into effect.   In the case of a puppy, I would say you should absolutely, most definitely get the “all the bells and whistles” policy, because you have NO IDEA how much puppies need to go to the vet.   With the vaccinations (which have to be spaced out, just like in babies), the vet visits, the cost of the spaying, and the general “Puppy ailments” like diarrhea and getting stung by a bee because she was chasing a bee, I would easily have gone out of pocket $1,000 the first year alone if it hadn’t been for the insurance.

Again, I would never NOT have enough insurance, for myself or for my pets, so it always kind of baffles me when families are willing to “roll the dice.”  My neighbors have a really beautiful Australian Shepherd, for example, who is always running off (because they do not watch her properly).   I keep waiting to hear that she is dead because she got hit by a car while being out on the loose, and I am 99% sure they do not have insurance on her, so they would for sure have to have her put to sleep if she needed surgery or like, any treatment that exceeded probably a few hundred dollars.   I also believe that this is why so many older pets end up being surrendered to animal shelters and pounds, which I think is just crazy and tragic– I think people just do not plan ahead for the inevitable medical bills that come with having another living thing in your house (in this case, an animal).  That animal needs proper healthcare and access to doctors sometimes in order to stay healthy, and it just seems like a gamble that you are going to lose if you choose to have that animal but don’t carry any insurance on it.  Just my opinion, but like I said, an opinion that is based in almost two decades of pet ownership, three long-term pet insurance policies, and always at least breaking even on the total costs.

Also, oh my God, I don’t know about you, but if I had to have one of my pets put to sleep because I couldn’t afford the cost of a treatment or surgery, I would think about that every day for the rest of my life and the guilt would eat me alive.   The cost of pet insurance is for sure worth at least that, right?