Is Dog Health Insurance
Really Worth the Expense?

When the topic of dog health insurance comes up with new dog owners, I frequently here something like this...

“Won’t I end up spending more on dog health insurance than I would at the veterinarian?”

My very thoughtful reply is usually something like this…

“Maybe yes, and maybe no!”

Let me explain...

It is possible that you will spend more on the dog medical insurance, but it’s also very possible that you will spend more on vet visits.

You just never know.

And, isn't that why most of us have insurance for ourselves and our families in the first place? Because you just never know. Insurance is to protect us from the uncertainties of life.

Why you might want to consider dog health insurance

While it may not be right for everyone, here are a few things to consider before you make your decision.

Consider getting dog health insurance if:

  • your dog is of a breed that has known medical issues. The insurance will likely save you money in the long run.
  • you treat your dog like a member of the family and intend to do all you can to keep him healthy and happy.
  • a sudden and costly medical problem would be difficult or impossible to pay for. Unless you have significant savings or lots of available credit, insurance could be your only option.
  • you have multiple pets to be insured. You can get a better deal from most insurance companies if you insure more than one pet with them. The cost of veterinarian care for these pets will, of course, remain the same. So you should come out ahead.

Why you might want to forget about getting dog health insurance

Consider NOT getting dog health insurance if:

  • your dog’s breed has no known medical issues. This is not, however, a guarantee that your dog won’t get sick or have an accident requiring expensive medical attention. But at least you have one factor going for you.
  • you have plenty of money in savings and/or cheap available credit, such as a home equity line of credit (credit cards could be an expensive way to finance a medical procedure for your dog).

Putting money away as an alternative to dog health insurance

I hear this mentioned as an option from time to time:

“I’ll just take the money that I’d have spent on dog medical insurance premiums and put it into a savings account. Then I can use that money for my veterinarian bills.”

On the face of it, that sounds reasonable...but is it?

Typical dog medical insurance coverage can run between $20 and $50 per month depending on coverage, breed and age of your dog. Let’s assume that you started saving $20 per month as soon as got your new dog.

You’d be saving $240 each year to use for vet bills. What happens if you have a serious situation within the first few years that ends up costing you thousands of dollars.

You wouldn't even have $1000 until 4 years had past. How would you pay the bill?

What if you saved $50 each month? Then you’d have $600 saved each year and you still might not have enough saved within the first few years.

Dog health insurance vs. putting money away

The best part of having dog health insurance is that you never have to worry about how you will take care of dog medical needs. If he gets sick or injured, you have the peace of mind knowing that you can take him to the vet and get the help he needs.

The downside with any insurance policy is that you could be spending money for something you’ll never have to use.

The best part of saving for your dog’s medical expenses is that you’re saving your own money which you could use for another type of emergency. This is also the downside!

How many of us have the determination to not use that money for other things? Will that money actually be there when you need it?

Of course, the other downside is that something could happen before you have enough money saved up.

An alternative that could be the best of both worlds

The alternative is to purchase a middle-of-the-road insurance policy for your dog (not a high-end policy that pays for everything) and begin a modest savings plan.

With this plan you get immediate coverage for at least some of your dog's medical expenses while you're putting money away for your dog’s later years when he may likely have the need for more medical attention.

What if you haven't done either and your dog needs help?

This is a situation that many people find themselves in. For whatever reason, they never invested in dog health insurance and they never put money away for veterinarian help.

If you find yourself in this situation, check out CareCredit.

CareCredit offers financing for little or no interest as long as you make minimum monthly payments on time and pay off the entire amount on time.They have plans for repayment of 6, 12, 18 or 24 months, and options for up to 60 months.

I have a good friend who used this option very successfully when her cat needed unexpected and expensive medical treatment.

There is one potential drawback. To take advantage of CareCredit, you must use one of their approved veterinarians. So, you may not be able to use the vet that you’re used to or even one that’s just around the corner.

Should you get dog medical insurance?

Whether or not you get dog health insurance is a personal decision and one you should consider carefully. When my dog, Duke, was 9 months old, he broke his hind leg. The vet bills were over $700.

If that happened with your dog, would you have the money to get his leg treated? Dog health insurance is one way to give yourself some peace of mind.

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New Dog Owner? Check Out These Pages First...

Selecting a Dog

Type of Dog

Choosing the right Dog

Naming your new Dog

Finding the right Food

House Training your Dog

General Dog Care Tips


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