Pet Insurance and Matters of the Heart

Insurance is a gambler’s game. You and the insurance company are playing the odds. You can be sure, the game is rigged in favor of the insurance companies. When it comes to health insurance, the deck is stacked against you. There is no way most people can afford to risk the possibility they will suffer a chronic illness or catastrophic accident that will be financially devastating. So health insurance is pretty much a necessity. Automobile insurance is required as is homeowner’s insurance if you have a mortgage. Life insurance is the biggest gamble of all, and the only way you win is by dying.

Now, it is possible to buy health insurance for your pets. Of course, the standard concerns apply. Does it pay? You have to ask yourself some pertinent questions:

  • How much is the monthly premium, and how does it change over time and with respect to the age of your pet when you start the coverage? How does it change if you use the policy especially if you end up with a chronically ill pet?
  • Can the policy ever be cancelled by the insurance company because you have used it too often?
  • Are there limitations on the amount of the payments and acceptable fees? Does it take into account where you live? A specific operation might cost $1,000 in a big city and $600 in a smaller community. The insurance company might only allow $400 and pay only 80% of that.
  • What is the deductible and how does it affect your premiums?
  • What is covered and, more importantly, what is not covered?
  • How long has the company been in business, and what is their track record?
  • What does your vet think about the different companies and pet insurance in general?

In the end, it comes down to one thing. What will you do if your pet comes down with a chronic illness or has a serious accident? If you think you could let your pet go, you might be wrong. Faced with the prospect of losing your companion, you might not be able to do that. You might find yourself spending the thousands of dollars it will take to care for the loving creature that keeps you company and accepts you for who you are, warts and all.

That is the big question and, ultimately, the one that matters the most. If you are certain you would do whatever was necessary to take care of your pet, then insurance is probably a very good idea. If you are absolutely sure you would not and have had the experience that allows you to know this is true, insurance may be a waste of money.

Here is a suggestion. Sit on your couch and call your pets. While they are busy wagging tails, snuggling up and purring, make your decision. If your heart melts, and you can’t imagine life without them, pick up the phone and start to learn everything you can, so you can make the best decision. Otherwise, take a look at the numbers and make your decision based on the cold, hard facts. Regardless of why you choose to take out a policy, if you do, remember to read the fine print.

Guest post by Nancy Richardson who writes for Key Insurance and has four dogs and two cats. They were all rescues that didn’t even make it to a shelter. They were street rescues, and she loves them all.


  1. Tamara | 10th May 12

    Great article! I had pet insurance for a while, and I had a lot of these problems you mentioned. I only found out three years into my policy that Bruno (my collie) wasn’t going to be covered for his hip dysplasia surgery. They called it a pre-existing condition. I paid over $2,000 for that little cutie!
    They also made me meet a yearly deductible of $500, which I only hit two out of three years, so one year was just a complete loos of premiums…
    Recently my sister told me she uses a company called “Pet Assure” which basically is more of a discount program than actual insurance; like they’ll only pay 25% of your bill (as opposed to say, 80%), but the premiums are only about 8 bucks a month, and they have no exclusions for preexisting etc. I ended up signing, I saved about $100 so far, I’ve only paid out less than $30 in premiums… might be a good option to check into.

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