Pet Healthcare and Insurance

by Stacy Francis, CFP®, CDFA

Last week, I spent a long afternoon in the animal hospital with my cat. The good news is that Sunshine is doing just fine – the bad news is the bill – almost $700. Most people who – like me – love their pets to death have considered purchasing health insurance for them at one point or other. But despite the wild rates charged by many veterinarians, it may not be the best solution. Here’s why.

  1. Health insurance for pets is expensive. Expect to pay several hundred dollars per year and pet – if not more. If your local vet is reasonable, you may be better off paying his or her bills than dumping your money into a policy.
  2. Pet insurance plans usually have high deductibles. Don’t expect to be reimbursed for any minor checkups or procedures. These are on you – in addition to the insurance plan.
  3. The insurance company will tell you they cover pretty much everything – until you try to collect. Then, suddenly, you will learn that eye problems are not covered for this certain breed of dogs, or that this bird disease is exempt. Be very careful when you chose your insurance company and plan. When taking recommendations from friends, make sure their pets have actually been sick, and that they have successfully collected from the company in question.
  4. You may be better off giving your pet a savings account. Especially if your pet is young and healthy, it may be more beneficial to set a bit of money aside each month for vet expenses. This way, you have no deductibles and no holes in the coverage.

With all this said, of course, in certain situations it makes perfect sense to purchase health insurance for your pet. If, for instance, your horse colics and has to spend four days in the animal hospital, with rates of several thousand dollars per day, you may be glad you did.

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