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.



judy gore February 7, 2007 at 12:59 pm

I really appreciate the info on the pet insurance. I am a widow and live on my social security so any info just what I needed. thanks, and if you have anymore info email me please. yours truly, judyanne

California Well Being June 7, 2007 at 5:03 pm

Although the idea of pet insurance like an interesting idea, it will be interesting to see how long it stays around. With insurance for people we have a lot longer lifespan, so naturally the premiums will be lower as there is more time for insurance companies to accrue review and bank the interest, it is also generally the later years that people fall into bad health. Where as generally pets are only with us for 6 – 15 years. Have you ever seen a bill for chemotherapy for a pet?

Derek July 22, 2007 at 10:15 pm


the first question I have to ask anyone considering pet insurance is the following: How much do you love your pet?

It might seem harsh, but I wrote an article earlier this year called “Determine how much your pet is worth”, in which I discussed some issues that we take for granted about pet care costs.

I often think about hte issues related to the “supersize me” movie, in that what goes into a body, in this case a pet’s body, determines what long term health a pet has. Any person would not think twice about insuring a son or daughter. We do this because we love our children.

But why not spend some money to make sure our loved pet is healthy and happy for as long as possible. After all, do they not bring happiness into our lives? I recently lost a dog that I had for 11+ years. He meant the world to me. Heck, he out lasted my marriage, and he was always the best friend a person could have. He died due to an unknown mass near his heart and other health issues.

At that time in my life I was divorced, bankrupt, and lost my house. But I would have done anything to make his life better. To that end, I bought a small house, got back on my feet, and took the best care of him I could before he passed away. He stayed with me for almost 2 more years after his diagnosis. Those two years he was still very vibrant and happy.

So when considering health care costs for your pets, I implore you, to weigh the options carefully. Treat your pet like they are part of the family. How heart broken would you or your children be if you lost your pet due to something that could have been avoided. It may not affect the adults as much, but children will hold onto resentment of a lost pet for a long time. I know I would not tell my children that a few dollars a month is not worth keeping their pets healthy.

– Just my opinions

Thanks for listening.
Derek Wood –

Candice September 7, 2007 at 2:28 pm

I am one of ‘those’ people who have insurance for their pets. It is my peace of mind actually. I am encouraged to take my dog in for any sign of illness and they both receive bi-annual checkups, vaccinations, de-wormers, etc. We pay $14 a month per dog and we rarely have to pay out of pocket. I see the insurance as a less-painful payment plan for vet visits. So far our tab at the vet (for two) is a little over $600, but everything has been covered. Since it is now September, we have contributed about $250 from our monthly payments.

Since we are in our mid-20’s, our bank account is not up there and an accident (hate to mention it) would probably clear us out. I enjoy our plan and I do not see us unsubscribing for a while.

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