pet insurance

I Say ‘Paws’ Before Buying Pet Insurance

•  3 minute read

Pet insurance isn’t cheap, and it isn’t always worth it. Make sure you plan ahead to get the most out of your premium before an emergency or health problem occurs.

As my wife and I recently discovered, pets can be expensive. Whether it is an unexpected trip to the emergency clinic or a chronic condition that requires ongoing treatment, any sort of medical bills can add up in a flash.

Pet insurance isn't cheap, but can be useful in an emergency. Some people buy pet insurance to help offset the cost of veterinary bills from our furry family members.

Some people buy pet insurance to help offset the cost of veterinary bills from our furry family members. For whatever reason, my wife and I never considered getting pet insurance when we adopted our dog, Daphne.

The insurance I looked at is only for pet health and not pet liability, so it would not cover a dog bite or property damage caused by your dog. It is also important to realize that any conditions diagnosed at a vet’s office before getting pet insurance will not likely be covered under pre-existing condition exclusions.

Pre-existing conditions are why it is so important to get pet insurance early in a pet’s life if you are considering it. It will be worth it just in case an expensive condition develops.

Quotes below are based on insuring a medium mixed-breed female dog that is less than a year old at the time of the quote. Different breeds, genders and ages of dogs will result in different pricing. This approximates how much it would have cost if we insured Daphne from the day we brought her home as a pup. Here’s what I found:

Healthy Paws Insurance

Healthy Paws Pet Insurance would cost us $27.34 per month, or $328.08 per year, to get coverage through their most popular pet insurance plan. The plan reimburses 80 percent of costs after paying a $200 deductible.

They cover a long list of ailments ranging from accidents, and hereditary conditions, to cancer, x-rays,  blood tests, ultrasounds, surgery,  hospitalization,  and prescription medications to name a few

Unfortunately, they have exclusions for the most common reasons you would use your pet insurance. These reasons include:  pre-existing conditions, preventative or routine care, spaying/neutering  and office visit fees or veterinary exam fees.

AICPA Insurance: A Bad Call

AICPA Pet Health Insurance Pet insurance would cost us $369.84 for their “Level 2” coverage if paid annually. This breaks down to $30.82 per month.

There are additional fees for paying monthly, quarterly or semi-annually. The deductible is higher ($250). But the reimbursement percentage is the same (80 percent). AICPA’s insurance only covers accidents, injuries and illnesses. They have annual limits for this coverage ($3,000).

The AICPA plan has a long list of exclusions. Their policy is worst overall for the cost, in my opinion.

Back to Daphne.  If we chose pet insurance when Daphne was sick we would have bought insurance through Healthy Paws Pet Insurance…paws down.

Would Pet Insurance Have Saved us Money?

Here are the numbers for what I believe would have been covered expenses. However, it is likely that the insurance company may have disallowed some of the costs as I did not seek determinations.

Will pet insurance cover allergy testing? The answer is sometimes yes, but it may not be worth taking out a whole premium. In 2012, we paid for an allergy test ($400) and allergy shots ($250).  Cost with insurance was $618 vs. $650 without.

In 2013, we paid for allergy shots ($250) and medications to help Daphne with one of her allergy outbreaks ($75). Our cost with insurance was $553 versus cost with no insurance $325.

2014 the same —Daphne’s medical costs were $325 and with insurance would have been $553 versus $325 without.

Last year was an anomaly. In addition to her normal allergy shots ($250), Daphne had two emergency toenail visits ($250). So in 2015  her medical cost with insurance was $588 versus $500 for no insurance.

Bottom line: We were right! For Daphne’s life to date, Daphne’s covered costs including pet insurance payments would have ended up costing us $2,312.

Without pet insurance, we would have paid only $1,800.

After this detailed analysis, it seems we made the right decision in regard to pet insurance, at least through the first four years of Daphne’s life.

That said, dogs can become susceptible to multiple illnesses as they get older. Pet insurance may be more cost effective in a dog’s later years. Sadly, unless you had your pet insured before you become aware of a major condition, it likely won’t be covered.

Every family is different. Make sure to consider your unique situation when evaluating whether the peace of mind pet insurance provides would be worth the cost for you.