Pet Insurance: Worth the Cost?

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Pet Insurance: Worth the Cost?

By Barbara Pronin


The pet insurance industry, which has grown exponentially since TV star Lassie was first insured in the 1980s, offers more options to pet owners today than ever before – at rates that vary widely. For owners who consider Fido or Cuddles part of the family, the question is: is insuring them worth the cost?

As with life insurance for humans, the younger an animal is when covered, the cheaper the premium will be. Beyond that, say researchers at, pet owners need to weigh the pros and cons of insurance to decide what’s right for them.

The Pros:

  • Advances in veterinary medicine make it possible to treat pets with new surgical techniques, chemotherapy and other therapies that help prolong life. But it is expensive, and insurance can make it affordable.
  • Coverage can be customized with varying deductible amounts, accident-only options and other choices that impact the amount of the premium you pay.
  • There are more pet insurance companies than ever to choose from, making it easier to select the exact coverage and riders you want – such as dental care or prescription-only.

The Cons:

  • Because cost is not an issue, an emotional owner may agree to treatments that may prolong the pet’s life for only a short time – and with questionable quality of life.
  • You need to examine the fine print of your policy, as some pets may turn out to be uninsurable due to age or certain applicable exclusions, such as conditions that are considered common to a particular breed.
  • Studies show you are likely to pay out more in premiums than you will ever get back in service. According to Consumer’s Report, owners might be better off to skip insurance premiums and put money aside in a special savings account to be used in the event of a pet emergency.

Reprinted with permission from RISMedia. ©2014. All rights reserved.