Pet Health Insurance Debate

by ValMay

What are the pros and cons to having veterinary care coverage.

Many pet owners struggle with whether or not to carry veterinary insurance on their dog. Find out whether it is a viable purchase for you and your dog.

Pet Insurance

Pet Insurance - Is It a Worthwhile Purchase For Your Dog

Most responsible dog owners vie to do all they can for the health and safety of their dog and this undoubtedly includes veterinary care. With rising prices of pet medical care, many dog owners are considering pet insurance. Find out if it is a beneficial option for you and your dog.

Facts About Dog Insurance

According to the trade group American Pet Products Association (APPA), only about 2 percent of pet owners in the United States have purchased health insurance. While that number seems low, the group expects that figure to rise to about 5 to 7 percent in the year following year. The APPA predicts that the interest in pet insurance will heighten as news and information spreads, and with the continued rising cost of veterinary care.

Another reason for the influx of interest can be attributed to the regularity of once unheard of pet medical procedures such as MRI's, CAT scans and even kidney transplants. As technical advances in pet care grows, so does the necessity of pet health insurance.

Cost of Veterinary Insurance

According to reports from the APPA, Americans spent over $11 billion in medical veterinary care last year, which was up from previous years by over 8 percent.

The American Society for the prevention of Cruelty to Animals states that the average cost to insure your dog runs roughly $225 per year. While policies vary, most plans offer options that cover from 50 to 90 percent of your pet's medical expenses.

With that said, most pet insurance policies carry caps on annual payouts, frequency of payouts and caps concerning the life-time of your dog. A customary annual capacity can range from $7,000 to $20,000, with various circumstantial allowances. On the positive side, most policies allow the purchasers to mix and match benefits to suit their needs and monetary capabilities.

A grass roots policy that covers emergencies only can save you quite a bit on premiums and from there you can add additional coverage. If you prefer more coverage, the plan can be extended to accommodate treatment for many specified injuries and chronic illness. A fortified and more complete policy for pet insurance may even include dental care and routine check-ups.

Understanding Pet Health Insurance

Most pet insurance policies carry extenuating conditions. Some of these exemptions may include higher premiums for older dogs and restrictions for diseases that are considered hereditary within a breed. Other typical exclusion are associated to preexisting conditions, as well as medical issues that tend to be ongoing.

Another common thread that runs through most pet insurance policies dictates only so much can be paid out in one "plan year". In other words if your dog develops cancer and receives treatment in one plan period, it could be as much as another year before the policy would pay out again.

Executive director for the North American Pet Heath Insurance Association, Loran Hickman, claims the discrepancies are beneficial to all who wish to purchase pet insurance. Stating that there are certain breeds more likely to develop medical issues and those who have healthier dog breeds should not absorb the same expense.

The Pet Insurance Debate

Many dog owners feel no expense is too great to keep their beloved dog alive. Others consider it best to humanely euthanize their dog as opposed to accruing the potentially considerable debt. For this reason some veterinarians are offering deferred payments and/or financing. Some dog owners are choosing to keep an empty credit card aside solely for this purpose.

Another option that is rising in popularity is the "savings" option. Financial experts are advising dog owners that instead of paying on a policy you may or may not ever use, put that same amount of money away in a separate savings account. This option takes discipline and diligence, but since most pet insurance policies are not transferable from dog to new puppy, and this side money will be available for every dog you own.

What is not Covered by Pet Health Insurance

Pet insurance coverage varies from one company to the next, but the following are maladies that are commonly not included:

  • Behavioral issues.
  • Breeding conditions.
  • Chronic conditions, like kidney disease, diabetes, etc.
  • Vaccine prevented illnesses.
  • Elective procedures.
  • Parasites.
  • Hereditary conditions.
  • Congenital diseases.
  • Dietary needs.
  • Teeth extractions.

Becoming educated on the pros and cons is your first step to making an informed decision as to whether veterinary insurance is right for you and your dog.


Kochan, Maureen, (2009/May) "Does it pay to insure." Dog Fancy, pg. 33-35

pet health insurance

veterinary insurance
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Updated: 03/08/2012, ValMay
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