Tags: Pets | dog | pet | health insurance | pros and cons

Dog Pet Health Insurance: Pros and Cons of Buying a Policy for Your Pooch

By    |   Monday, 12 January 2015 04:13 PM

Your dog is a member of your family and keeping him healthy is a priority, but escalating costs of veterinary care and expensive options for treatment may mean pet health insurance is a viable option.

To show the potential need for pet insurance, NBC News reported an estimate of various pet health issues and the associated bills, including a broken leg with a plate, costing about $1,600, and almost $2,000 to remove a foreign object that caused intestinal damage.

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But even with those expensive costs associated with saving a beloved animal, it’s still not clear that buying pet health insurance is the best option, NBC’s ConsumerMan Herb Weisbaum said.

“Is insurance the answer? When people ask me that question my answer is always the same: It depends. Buying pet insurance is both an economic and an emotional decision that needs to be based on your personal financial situation and what you’re willing to pay for peace of mind,” Weisbaum wrote.

Seattle vet Jean Maixner told NBC that some pet owners can’t afford treatments and ask to have their pets euthanized. “It’s absolutely horrible,” Maixner told the news station. “If people had acquired pet insurance before the emergency occurred, they might have been able to move forward with some reasonable treatment to help their pet.”

But NBC said consumer groups don’t agree that pet insurance is always a good buy. People can spend $5,000 or more over the lifetime of a pet, Robert Krughoff of Checkbook.org told NBC. “Most people are not going to have a big expense like that,” he said.

Consumer Reports analyzed the value of pet insurance, using a healthy dog, Roxy, as an example. Roxy had just a few health issues over the years, so the company assessed the payout of nine different policies and how the owners would have benefited. Included in the model were two emergency room visits for Roxy after she ate chocolate and a puncture wound after fighting with a dog. Dental cleanings and some eye and ear infections were also part of the dog’s vet bills.

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“Overall, we found that the pet policies we analyzed were not worth the cost for a generally healthy animal,” Consumer Reports said. “In healthy Roxy's case, we found that none of the nine policies would have paid out more than the projected premiums over a 10-year period.”

But when Roxy’s claims were adjusted assuming more severe and chronic problems, such as arthritis or benign tumors, five of the nine policies assessed did pay off, Consumer Reports said. Most companies include clauses in their policies saying they don’t cover pre-existing conditions, the magazine pointed out, so the dog would have to get the illness while covered.

Both Checkbook.org and Consumer Reports say that covering routine care with insurance doesn’t pay off.

But NBC said the companies offering pet insurance said some people can’t afford to gamble that their pet will be healthy.

Grant Biniasz, a spokeperson for VPI pet insurance company, told NBC that pet insurance isn’t meant to be a savings account.

“It’s a way to manage risk,” Biniasz told NBC. “If you look at any form of insurance and try to run the numbers, you’re going to find that most people are not going to get back what they pay in premiums. But the people who do are happy they made the investment.”

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Your dog is a member of your family and keeping him healthy is a priority, but escalating costs of veterinary care and expensive options for treatment may mean pet health insurance is a viable option.
dog, pet, health insurance, pros and cons
Monday, 12 January 2015 04:13 PM
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