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Pet Insurance – Do you need it?

He ate glass. Yes, that’s right; I said he ate glass! If I’m telling the story accurately, all three of them (Taco, Scout, and Marcy) ate glass, actually. Eternal thanks to Orville for refraining!

When I received the call from my husband, he had come home to a kitchen floor covered in shards of glass and dry cat food. We call those “crunchies” in our house (the food, not the glass). Someone (don’t automatically blame the man, but it was the man), accidentally left the lid of our large glass cat food jar off. We suspect that Scout and Marcy nudged and head-butted the jar enough to make it fall to the ground and shatter before gorging themselves on dry food – contaminated with broken glass.

This happened back in the days when Taco could hear and had teeth (yep – deaf and toothless, but more on that later). Naturally, he stormed in and ate the majority of the treasure. After a trip to the vet, we were thrilled that no one had any lacerations but disheartened that Taco, Scout, and Marcy all had bloated bellies full of food and glass. We watched closely over the next few days, and thankfully Scout and Marcy passed everything uneventfully. Taco was feeling well, without a single episode of an upset belly, but still had a gut full of glass. Could the glass perforate his gastroinestinal tract and cause him to become septic?

We spent how much?

We opted to perform a gastrotomy, a surgery in which the veterinarian manually removes foreign material from the stomach. Taco made it through surgery just fine, but on his post-operative x-rays – there were stubborn shards of glass remaining. We debated about what to do and how we would afford another surgery. The truth was, we couldn’t afford another surgery. But we knew the stakes were high and were willing to sell our belongings, get side jobs, or borrow from family to make it work. So, the next day Taco had another gastrotomy with a board-certified surgeon. Taco did great! Glass gone. Wallets empty.

The moral of the story…

While it may seem there are many morals to this story, the reason I tell it is because I wish I had pet insurance!

Taco was a senior with some pre-exisiting conditions when we adopted him, so we didn’t think pet insurance was “worth it.” Seven years later, I can say that I was wrong! We have pet insurance for our cats and started them young, which helped us keep our costs low. Being pet parents and veterinary professionals, I want to share perspective from both sides of the coin.

Pet Owner Perspective

As a pet parent, especially if your pet is young and healthy, it might be hard to imagine a time when your pet get sick, has an accident, or develops a chronic condition. I’m a mom to senior pets, and I can tell you these things tend to be the rule, not the exception. I never want to be in a situation where I can’t do the best thing for my pet because I can’t afford it. Pet insurance is peace of mind. Pet insurance is good for pets.

Veterinary Perspective

In 2019, the North American Pet Health Insurance Association reported that only 1% of the 135+ million pets in the U.S. were insured. As a veterinary technician, I am overjoyed when a pet is insured. It almost always means that the client will be able to choose the best care options. I don’t want to see pets suffer or go without treatment but understand that clients do the best they can, and sometimes caring for your pet means you can’t pay for your bills or care for yourself.

Pet Insurance Benefits

  • Peace of mind
  • Allows you to choose the best care, especially for accidents and emergencies
  • May be used at any veterinarian
  • May save you money over time

Pet Insurance Limitations

  • Typically need to pay the veterinary bill up front prior to reimbursement
  • May be pre-existing condition exclusions and waiting periods
  • Required to pay premiums and deductible
  • Wellness and preventive care are not usually covered

Getting the Best Deal

  • Take advantage of free trials (but note there is usually a deductible to be met)
  • Obtain pet insurance as early as possible, before your pet develops any chronic conditions
  • Make sure to spay or neuter your pet for their health and a better insurance rate
  • Ask about multi-pet and loyalty discounts
  • Check with your employer to see if they partner with an insurance provider

My Top 5 Picks

  • Pet’s Best – may pay the veterinary bill directly: petsbest.com

Based on personal experience, these are the five companies I recommend exploring (in no particular order). Get a free quote from each to see which suits you best! Keep an eye out for up-and-comer Pumpkin: www.pumpkin.care

Alternatives

Start pet savings account! $30 per month per pet is the minimum I recommend, and this doesn’t factor in wellness and preventive care.

2 Comments

    • Gina

      Great question! The exact coverage details are going to be based on the plan you choose. Typically, illnesses, injuries, and surgeries may be covered. However, exceptions usually apply if there is a “pre-existing conditions.” For instance, if your pet has chronic skin allergies, and then you sign up for insurance, the insurance may not cover future bills related to skin allergies. Always check when you enroll!

      It is important to note that insurance policies usually have a deductible, an amount you choose at enrollment, usually $50-$500, that you must pay out of pocket before insurance coverage will “kick in.”

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