Being a pet parent is expensive. Food, toys, vaccinations, vet visits… it all adds up! That’s not even taking into consideration the unpredictable happening. Picture this, you’re playing with your fur baby in a grassy area. She’s having fun while burning off lots of energy! After the play session, you go home to continue your evening. You both go to sleep and all seems well. The next morning you wake up to see your sweet girl covered in hives with red, droopy eyes. You realize she must be having an allergic reaction and you need to have her seen right away! You call up her vet to get the next available appointment and they tell you to bring her right in. Of course, you’re concerned for your fur baby, but you are also concerned for your wallet. You don’t know what exactly is wrong nor do you know what the cost will be. What if you can’t afford the treatment? What will happen to your baby then? The whole situation is so scary and stressful! Having pet insurance can possibly help alleviate some of the worries in that scenario. Knowing that you have an insurance premium for your pet as a financial safety net allows you to focus on what is most important at that moment, being there for your fur baby. But is having pet insurance really worth it?

Pet plans

You cannot get a policy that covers pre-existing conditions. It is best to get pet insurance while the pet is still young before any pre-existing conditions can manifest. Other than that, most policies will cover hereditary and congenital problems and accidents. There are several different companies that offer pet insurance plans. Some of the most popular providers are Nationwide, PetsBest, ASPCA, Petplan, Trupanion, and Embrace. Yet, there are still so many more. With most pet premiums, the owner pays a monthly fee based on several factors such as the pets age, breed, and deductible amount just to name a few. Some providers will have the option to pay for the year and receive a slight discount.

You have to consider more than just comparing monthly bills. Some providers, like Nationwide and Pets Best, base their quotes heavily on your pet’s age. That means that the bill that starts out at $35 a month as a puppy can increase annually as your pet ages. By the time they’re eight, your monthly bill could be double. If you consider the paying monthly over the life span of a dog that lives 13 years, you’re looking at over $11,000.

Money in, money out

Pet insurance isn’t like an insurance plan for humans. In a lot of cases, the owner will pay out of pocket for veterinary expenses and the pet insurance provider will reimburse a certain amount back. That is all fine and dandy as long as the vet bill isn’t too high. For example, Herb Weisbaum’s lovable chihuahua-terrier mix Sam got sick with a life-threatening bacterial infection. He was in the pet hospital for five days in need of constant medical care. The bill they received was $10,000. Fortunately, they had pet insurance. They were able to receive a reimbursement check within a week in the amount of $9,000. But how many owners will have $10,000 to spend to save their dog’s life even if they want to?

Is it worth it?

There are lots of scenarios to consider to really determine if pet insurance is worth it for you and your fur baby. You could spend tens of thousands paying for pet premiums that in the long run just equate financially. Your pet may have only minor health issues here and there that don’t hit your wallet hard and do not require a large reimbursement. In that case, you could just pay a couple hundred for treatment over the lifetime of dog that comes nowhere close to $11,000. Or in the case of Sam, your pet could get really sick out of nowhere and you have to shell out $10,000. Having the premium in place to give you $9,000 of that back could be the difference between life and death for your pet.

In the case of the sweet girl mentioned earlier, it really was just an allergic reaction that only required a quick Benadryl shot and some eye drops. Treatment for allergies is usually a manageable expense, however, regularly purchasing allergy medication can easily add up. Having an insurance premium can allow for reimbursements that can help with those out of pocket expenses, but will the cost of the premium plus deductible be more than the costs to just pay it out of pocket? Deciding to get a premium for your pet is really a numbers game. If you find that it’ll cost less to pay out of pocket than to pay the deductible plus the annual price then don’t. If you’re just worried about what you’ll do in the case of an accident, look for providers that offer accident-only policies, like ASPCA. They’re significantly less expensive. At the end of the day, having a pet policy might not be the most cost-effective, but it is better to be safe than sorry. Find a plan that works best for you and your pet pal. Quite frankly, $11,000 over the course of 13 years isn’t that much to pay for peace of mind for your pet.