With all the excitement and costs that come with getting a new dog or cat, pet health insurance can feel like an avoidable expense. Especially when your new puppy or kitten is the picture of perfect, mischievous, health! But deciding not to get health coverage for your new family member when they are young can end up being an expensive choice.
According to research from Healthy Paws Pet Insurance, 1 in 3 of our pets will need urgent care this year, and a pet parent will face a vet bill of more than $1,000 every 6 seconds in the U.S. In their latest report, Healthy Paws highlighted the most common illnesses and accidents that their policy holders claimed for in 2017. With costs potentially reaching up to $15,000 for serious conditions, it shows just how expensive NOT having pet insurance coverage could get.
According to Healthy Paws research, tummy troubles were the number one concern that sent both cats and dogs to the vets in 2017! Eating things that they shouldn’t was one of the main causes. Pets of all ages can be found snuffling in things that they know are naughty, so take care to keep toxic and poisonous items locked away. You might be lucky and only have to pay for a course of antibiotics if your pet has an unhappy tum, but an x-ray can cost up to $500 and a CT scan can be more than $3,000!
Cancer was the most expensive health concern that Healthy Paws identified, costing up to $15,000 to diagnose and treat. Each case is different and treatment may involve anything from surgery, to chemotherapy to laser therapy. There is very little that can be done to prevent cancer, aside from a healthy diet and lifestyle, so being prepared should the worst happen is the best action you can take.
Are there any viable alternatives to pet insurance coverage?
Some pet parents have heard rumors about certain pet insurance providers that have given the whole industry a bad name. In particular, it is often thought that the first pet insurance policies made available in the US didn’t off wide enough coverage and made it difficult to make a successful claim.
As a result, some owners save an amount each month to pay for unexpected vets bills, turn to friends or family for help, or depend on credit cards and loans to pay for their pet’s treatment. However, a 2015 Money Pulse survey found that a huge 63% of Americans would be unable to pay an unexpected bill of $500 or more.
Putting some money aside in case of emergency vet bills is a good idea, but if your pet needs treatment in their first few years it could take a large monthly saving to cover the possible cost of veterinarian treatment. Young pets tend to explore the world through their mouths, can be quite accident-prone and likely to eat things they shouldn’t. So unless you can afford to put aside large amounts straight away, the savings account is a risky option.
Depending on credit and relying on loved ones can help pet parents out of a tight spot, but it can also be risky if your access to credit is limited or friends and family are unable to help. Also, if you’re paying interest on a personal loan or credit card, you will end up paying more than the cost of the treatment in the long-run.
When pet parents find themselves in real trouble, some veterinarians are willing to negotiate an instalment plan if you’re unable to pay your bill in one go, but this is completely at their discretion. Your vet may be able to refer you to an animal welfare organization or charity, or to a low-cost veterinary school clinic, to help lower the costs. However, this is a risky last resort as there are no guarantees these options will be available.
Are pet insurance plans really worth it?
Pet insurance plans can cost from as little as $1 per day. The best way to get a great deal on your pet insurance is to insure your furry friend when they’re young and haven’t yet developed any health issues. Thinking about pet health insurance in the same way you think about your home or car insurance can protect you and your pet from the unexpected; we all hope never to have to claim, but when we do need it, it’s there to catch us, and our best friend!
If you’re still not sure, don’t forget you can read real people’s reviews of each insurer here on our site. We’re always bowled over by the heart-warming stories of how having pet insurance saved pets’ lives, like Elaine's Labrador puppy. He not only ate a "non-digestible snack" and had to spend a week in doggy ICU which cost $2300 but then 60 days later, was sniffing out a bird and managed to get a 7 inch stick rammed up his nose which came to rest 1/4 inch from his brain! This resulted in another $1700 bill for a CT scan and stick removal but Elaine was relieved she had Trupanion pet insurance:
We love our puppy and want the best for him and Trupanion has given us the peace of mind that when the unthinkable happens we don't have to think twice about doing what is medically needed to help our sweet, accident prone puppy.
Elaine (Trupanion US)
If you think pet insurance is something you want to consider, please use our quote form to compare coverage and costs from leading pet insurance companies, and to get quotes, in seconds.