For many pet parents, having insurance in case of an emergency is a necessity, but there are some people who choose not to take out pet insurance for their cats or dogs. One alternative to traditional pet insurance is ‘self-insuring’ by putting money away every month to cover any expensive vet treatment that’s needed. This works for some people, and has the added benefit that if your pets are lucky enough not to need the money put aside for any treatment, it’s still there in the account. It can be a tricky decision to make, so here are some of the pros and cons of pet insurance if you haven’t yet made up your mind.
Pet Insurance Pros
- Basic coverage is usually very cost-effective, sometimes as little as a few dollars per month, so it’s often an expense that you hardly notice.
- If your cat is seriously ill or injured you have the peace of mind that comes with knowing that she’s covered by insurance.
- You don’t have to choose treatment plans depending on their cost, you can make your decision based on what you think is the best course of treatment, rather than the one you can afford.
Pet Insurance Cons
- Like human insurance, most policies won’t cover pre-existing conditions or breed-specific conditions. If your cat is FIV+ for example, with a compromised immune system, your insurance company might argue that most issues have been caused by the virus.
- The older your cat is, the more expensive your insurance premiums are likely to be.
- It’s obviously a good thing when your cat stays happy and healthy, but don’t forget that there’s a high chance that you’ll spend more money on insurance over her lifetime than you have in veterinary care.
Pet Insurance Checklist
When you’re shopping around for pet insurance for your cat, it’s essential to choose the policy that best suits your needs. Here are some important things to consider when looking at the different policies.
- Do they pay your vet directly? Many insurance companies will only pay you once you’ve already paid the vet’s bill, so you need to consider whether you’ll be able to find the money available to cover paying the vet first? It’s also important to check your vet’s own policies in this respect, as some won’t accept payment from insurance companies.
- Do they let you see your own vet or does it have to be a vet that the insurance company specifies?
- What’s covered in the policy? It might be just accidents and emergency illnesses, but some also cover routine check-ups, vaccinations and dental treatment. If it does include routine treatments, work out how much you usually spend for these over the course of the year and how much extra you’re going to spend on the insurance to cover them – it might work out cheaper to just ‘pay as you go’.
- Check for any exclusions. This might include the issues mentioned above like pre-existing conditions or breed-specific illnesses.
- Is there an excess, and how much?
Whatever you decide, it’s important to do your homework before you choose a policy. You need to understand exactly what your insurance does and doesn’t cover to avoid any nasty surprises in the future.
Have you purchased pet insurance to help cover the medical care and expenses for your cat or dog? Why or why not?