Do You Need Pet Insurance?

by Justin Weinger on October 18, 2006

I enjoy reading Liz Pulliam Weston, money guru for MSN Money, and if you don’t read her columns, you should probably look into it as she has a lot of helpful, money saving tips.

Today I came across one of her older columns about pet insurance, and whether or not it was a financial mistake.  Essentially pet insurance works in roughly the same manor as many regular health insurance plans in the sense that you have a deductible, co-pay and an exhaustive list regarding what procedures the pet insurance will or will not cover.  The procedures covered by pet insurance range from routine vet visits to kidney transplants.

According to the United States Census Bureau, there are over 45.8 million Americans that currently do not have any health insurance.  That’s 15% of the population!  Meanwhile, in 2005 Americans spent over $100 million on pet insurance.

I know that doesn’t REALLY go along with this post, but I felt the need to interject.  I apologize.

Anyway, according to Weston’s article, the average person can expect to spend between $2,000 and $6,000 on pet insurance over the life of their furry friend, which is probably well over the cost you will probably shell out for any type of veterinary procedures for your pet.  Seems like this should be enough to make you wonder about whether or not pet insurance is worth it.

Now before you label me as a heartless animal hater, I would like to point out that I do have a cat and would be willing to spend large sums of money in order to take care of her.  However, I figure financially it is probably better to cross that bridge if I ever come to it and not act preemptively by purchasing pet insurance.

It seems to me that you’re probably better served trying to give your pet a happy and healthy life on your own without the aid of pet insurance which you may or may not ever need.  According to Weston’s article, there are several inexpensive ways to make sure you’ll never need pet insurance and/or expensive veterinary procedures:

  • Don’t buy cheap food. Get the better quality, healthier food which will pay off with better health.
  • Keep your animals indoors, in a fenced in backyard or on a leash.  This will drastically reduce the risk for injury.
  • Don’t let your pets get fat.  While there’s more to love, you’ll probably have less time to do it and encounter more health problems along the way.
  • Don’t feel compelled to get your pet’s medication from your vet.  Feel free to check around with other vets or pet medication websites to try and find better deals.

Look, I understand that in the long run, you’re probably going to spend thousands of dollars on your pets during their lifetimes.  I’m not saying that’s a bad thing at all, especially considering what they give back is relatively priceless (awwww).  At the same time, I think things like pet insurance are a frivolous waste of money.

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