Is pet insurance worth the cost?

The last thing you want is to have to forgo lifesaving treatment for your pet sometime down the road because you simply don’t have the money to pay for it. But that’s a situation many pet owners eventually face. Pet insurance can provide some peace of mind, but is it worth the cost? That’s a tough question to answer.

Let’s say that you have a two-year-old Labrador retriever. You get quotes from all the major pet insurance providers, and after carefully comparing coverages and details, you decide on a policy that will pay 80% of covered costs after you satisfy an annual $250 deductible. Your cost for the policy is $40 each month. In most years, you don’t have any reimbursable claims–just routine visits or claims that don’t exceed the deductible. After six years, your lovable Lab swallows a sock, things go horribly wrong, and he needs surgery at a cost of $4,000. Good thing you purchased the insurance, right?

Remember, you have a $250 deductible, so you will have to cover that yourself. And, the insurance policy will only reimburse you for 80% of the remaining $3,750, or $3,000. Consider this: If, instead of purchasing the pet insurance policy, you set aside $40 each month into an account earning 3%, you would have a little over $3,000–the same amount you would receive from the insurance policy–saved by the time the operation was needed. Of course, this example assumes that you have the discipline to set money aside each month. And, of course, if the great sock catastrophe happened in year two instead of year six, the insurance might seem like a wise purchase.

The bottom line is that pet insurance companies are in business to make a profit, and that is how they set their rates. By purchasing a pet insurance policy, you’re shifting some of the potential financial risk from you to the insurance  provider, and you are paying for that as part of your premiums. That doesn’t mean purchasing pet insurance is a bad decision; you just have to consider the numbers carefully. At the same time, you have to factor in that it’s not all about the numbers–you may believe now that there’s a limit to what you will spend to treat a pet, but if and when that time comes, emotions often have a tendency to trump logic.


Prepared by Broadridge Investor Communication Solutions, Inc. Copyright 2013