Is Pet Insurance Worth It?


When we got our poodle Henry about 8 years ago I thought it made sense to get a pet insurance policy in case he needed extensive veterinary care. These policies are fairly new and I thought if I signed him up as a 7 week old puppy I would have some stability n the premiums in case he needed care when he was older. My previous dog had lived to 20 and needed extensive care in his later years including jaw surgery to remove a cancerous tumour.

In hindsight I think there are better ways to spend the premiums. The insurance typically maxes out at about $20,000 over the pet’s lifetime and doesn’t cover annual shots. I am now paying $80 a month as the premiums have slowly been increasing. Henry has needed the odd bit of veterinary attention and the policy has paid back 80% of most of the costs, and has thus far reimbursed me maybe $600. I know I am lucky that he has been very healthy and had few mishaps but after some thought I think there is a better way.

When we got our second dog I didn’t sign her up for insurance. Instead, we started putting $50 a month into a savings plan to cover her vet bills. (see previous posts about savings accounts). Over the past 7 years that has grown nicely– we used some of it to pay for her spaying and to have some dental work done. It turns out that teeth cleaning isn’t covered anyhow.

To me it seems far wiser to self-insure and have your own savings as pets are generally very healthy and need little care when they are young and by the time they start needing more care you have a nest egg set aside. The fact that they have a lifelong payout limit means that you really don’t get a huge degree of protection despite the premiums that you pay.

After paying premiums for Henry for the past 8 years, however, I am reluctant to cancel his policy. When I bought his policy I wasn’t as wise to all of the exclusions and wasn’t expecting the premiums to keep increasing. If the premiums go a bit higher, however, and I am comfortable that we have enough set aside for emergencies, I might reconsider.


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