Many people ask us whether they should get pet insurance. It is a hard question to answer, and we cannot tell you what would be appropriate for your pet. We also can’t provide a comparison of pet insurance companies. But from our perspective, treating a pet is much easier with pet insurance. We don’t have the constant stress of trying to balance trying to work out what is wrong with your pet without costing you the earth.
Pets don’t talk, and as a result we want to run tests – and those tests cost money. When we can’t run those tests we are then put in the situation of trying to guess what is wrong with your pet, and hoping we get it right. Sometimes we can do this with a lot of confidence, and sometime we feel stressed and worry about it at night. Vets are NOT actually out to make money out of your pet’s illness (honest!) We are in this profession because we care about your pets, and we want to help them.
Here are some things to think about when looking at pet insurance.
My Pet Never Gets Sick
Every pet insurance company is different, but in general, most of them provide a small amount towards general health care. So they might give you a small token, (for example $50) towards a vaccine or a dental each year. But if your pet is not visiting the vet surgery except for vaccinations and dentals, many pet insurance companies provide very little in the way of refunds or coverage.
The problem for healthy pets is when something does go wrong.
When Something does go wrong
The problem we have from a veterinary perspective is when something does go wrong. As vets we have a lot of trouble trying to work out what is wrong with your pet because they don’t talk. To make up for this, we generally want to run tests – blood tests, X-rays, ultrasounds. And those tests can add up. Each of those tests can cost a couple of hundred dollars. And that is before treatments. The hardest part of our jobs can sometimes be trying to guess what is wrong with your pet because we try to keep the costs down for you.
Accidents such as dog attacks, car accidents, injuries while playing are also things that can end up being quite costly.
Costs add up even quicker in after hours emergency visits. After-hours hospitalisation can cost anywhere from several hundred dollars to over a thousand dollars a night. None of us want to be in the position of having to decide how much our beloved pet is worth, but unfortunately sometimes that is the decision we are faced with.
In some cases, surgery can cost thousands. With pet insurance, we rarely have the stress of “should we treat our pet” as cost is no longer such a big issue. If you knew it wouldn’t cost you thousands, of course you would treat your pet. Having pet insurance makes decision making much easier when things go wrong.
My Pet Has a Pre-existing Illness
This is a situation that you will need to check with your insurance company. Most companies wont cover pre-existing illnesses. This includes arthritis, heart problems, epilepsy and diabetes, but can also include skin allergies and ears with some insurance companies. However if your pet was well when you took out pet insurance, and the problem develops later, most insurance companies will cover the condition. Vets cannot change the history of your pet to hide that they made have been seen for this condition before. This means if you have been diagnosed with a heart murmur prior to taking out insurance, most companies will not cover heart disease in your pet.
My Pet is Old
In some cases, it can become extremely expensive to insure older pets. Older pets are much more likely to develop conditions that require on-going medication. Heart disease, kidney disease, diabetes, Cushing’s disease, arthritis – all these conditions are very common in older pets. All are best managed with on-going medication. Insurance companies know this, and while they will cover treatment (usually) if the condition was diagnosed AFTER you took out insurance, the costs may be higher than treating the condition! It is worth investigating and finding out quotes on insurance, but you need to make your own decisions as to whether or not it is worth while.
So should I take out Pet Insurance?
That is up to you! It makes decision making easier when things go wrong, when your pet gets sick or has an accident. It costs you a lot of money for very little gain when your pet is healthy and well. In the end it’s main benefit is peace of mind, so that if anything does go wrong, you are covered and you don’t have to worry.