Healthcare expenses for pets fall into two categories:
1) Wellness care - these can be planned for and scheduled.
2) Accidents and illnesses - these are unexpected and often expensive
Although some pet insurance companies offer wellness care coverage, usually as an add-on rider to their accident and illness policy, the main reason to purchase health insurance for your pet is to cover the unexpected and potentially expensive events that happen.
So, let's look at the two categories of the unforeseen and expensive accidents and illnesses:
1) Acute problems - watch these videos:
One thing to note about this story is that because these pet owners had insurance, they were able to take advantage of a relatively new technology, Cyberknife therapy, that lessened the number of treatments Baxter required to achieve results with a better outcome and prognosis. Also note that this illness occurred within a year of them purchasing pet insurance - you just never know when something like this will occur.
Perhaps the main reason that pet owners don't purchase pet insurance, even after watching stories like this is they don't believe or they assume that something like that will never happen to their pet. As a practicing veterinarian, I can assure you that you have no way of knowing that ahead of time. From my perspective, I see pet owners face these unexpected situations almost daily and many are not prepared financially to deal with them.
A friend of mine, Dr. Jason Nicholas (The Preventive Vet) has worked quite a bit in emergency and critical care hospitals and this is what he has to say:
Dr. Nicholas states what I've seen also - most of the people who are interested in pet insurance are those who have faced significant medical bills for their pet and now realize the need for it. It's best, however, to be proactive and purchase it before you have a real need for it.
2) Chronic problems - these are problems that require ongoing treatment for years while allowing your pet to maintain a good quality of life. Examples are arthritis, some cancers, diabetes, kidney failure, Cushings disease, Addison's disease, heart failure, allergies, etc.
What most people don't realize is that some of these problems can start at a really young age - even less than a year old, and then you are faced with treatment for the rest of the pet's life. This can add up to a significant expense over the life of the pet. A couple of pet insurance companies have told me that about 40% of the claims they receive are for chronic on-going conditions. This is why it is best to purchase pet insurance when your pet is young or soon after adoption if you adopt a shelter or rescue pet.
Here's are some examples from one pet insurance company of chronic conditions claims they have paid:
Be sure and look at the annual expenses for each of these problems and then the "total (so far)" column.
Look at this video about "Benny" who started developing chronic problems at only 8 months of age (elbow dysplasia, bilateral ACL tears, allergies, infections) incurring substantial costs to the owner (over $40,000) of which over $33,000 has been reimbursed. There are also significant ongoing costs related to treating these conditions.
Here is a story of a family that has two dogs - one with a couple of chronic problems and the other seemingly healthy dog faced an unexpected emergency:
Hopefully, this has been an eye opening post for you. Again, my perspective as a veterinarian is different from that of many of you. I see these types of problems day in and day out, so I know that they can happen to anyone at anytime. Therefore, I urge you to not delay, but check out pet insurance for your pet today.
I've put together a pet insurance toolkit to help you do just that.
*** The videos produced by Healthy Paws and Trupanion that are included in this post are for informational purposes only and are not necessarily meant to be an endorsement of either company by the author.