Does your new puppy need pet insurance? Unlike human health insurance, there is no black and white answer for pets. Usually pet parents are either firmly for or against the idea. We can see both sides of the argument and will let you know our opinion on the subject of insurance for pets.
The First Pet Insurance Policies
In 2008, Mom, Katie, and Emma had been back in the USA for about a year when the vet found a lump on Emma. Mom panicked! She thought about Emma being only two, the costs if it turned out to be cancer, what would she do? It turned out to be just a benign cyst, but at the point Mom opted to get pet insurance for Katie and Emma. Living in Germany, people made fun of Americans buying insurance for their pets, but suddenly it seemed like a good option, not something to laugh at.
At the time, there were not a lot of options. Mom chose a plan she thought would work best for both girls. Their policies covered injury and illness, not wellness care. Their plans worked well, and Emma pretty much broke even having had issues with her ears, lip fold surgery, and other care. When Katie developed a tumor in her heart, her policy was useless. It would not cover more than a couple hundred dollars for her condition, ever. Mom cancelled Katie’s policy.
On Emma’s last day, if she could have been saved, her care would have come to over twenty thousand dollars. Her policy would have only covered a tiny portion of that. With these two instances, Mom learned a lot more about what is important to her in a pet insurance policy. Emma actually posted her own thoughts on insurance just over a year ago.
Mom signed Bailie up for her health insurance the day she arrived at our house. She was put on the same policy as Katie and Emma. At the time VPI was the company, and this was about the best policy she could get.
Over the past five plus years, Bailie had an emergency surgery, emergency vet visits, a serious platelet disease, most likely from a tick born illness, and most recently her muscle injury last summer. So far her insurance has covered most of her bills once the deductible was met and Mom’s portion has been paid. Last summer was a reminder, though, that this policy is not going to help out always. Towards the end of Bailie’s rehab, she reached her yearly limit for this type of injury. We had to pay the rest of her care in full. It was another good reminder that caps on a policy are not good.
I have the most awesome policy in the family! Sadly, Bailie can’t switch to it. Nationwide is my insurer. Mom signed me up the day I arrived too, and at the time they had a whole pet and wellness plan. My premium is not very high, and they pay 90% of everything after we meet our $250 deductible each year. This includes heartworm and tick meds, check ups, and any major medical issues. There are no exclusions either. Hopefully I will never need these services, but Mom feels so good to know I am covered.
Because my policy is so pawsome, Mom started to enroll Olivia in the same one, but then found out the premium is more than double what mine is. We don’t really need the wellness part, but the only other option is the same plan that Bailie is on. After shopping around and comparing plans with other companies, we settled on Trupanion for Olivia. Trupanion allows you to set your own deductible up to $1000, and once you meet that for an illness or injury, they will pay 90% for the rest of your pet’s life. No cap, which is important to us. We have heard a lot about them from friends who have had major illnesses, and our vet also recommends them.
Our Conclusions on Pet Insurance
- We view pet insurance as something to be there in a catastrophe, such as being hit by a car, or getting cancer. Costs can run in the tens of thousands of dollars, and Mom wants us to be covered. Sure, we could save money in a special account, but it would take a long time to set aside say, twenty thousand dollars. Insurance is peace of mind for Mom.
- Bailie will keep her policy as it is better than nothing, but going forward, we will only be looking at policies without limits.
- Insurance is a safety net, something one purchases with the hope of never using it. Take your car insurance, have you gotten out all the money you have put in over your lifetime? Probably not, but it is the peace of mind knowing if you wreck your car, you can get a new one or have major repairs paid for.
- Get insurance as soon as you get your pup – you never know when you will need it, and you will have it before she develops any conditions that may be excluded.
- If you have plenty of cash set aside, or are not interested in caring for your pup should they be seriously injured or come down with a disease like cancer, then insurance is probably not for you.
- Pet insurance is a personal decision between you, your pet, and your finances. You alone need to weigh the benefits vs. costs. There is no right or wrong decision, but remember, once your pet is in need it will be too late to get insurance, which is why we start ours right away as little pups.