Home > Pets > #029 — Should I Buy Pet Insurance?

#029 — Should I Buy Pet Insurance?

March 20th, 2009

I never really considered pet insurance until my dog Odie swallowed a sock, and we had to spend $1,000 to save his life.  I just assumed insurance for my dogs was a high cost, low benefit type of investment.  But now that we had a canine emergency threatening to derail our financial plans, I thought I’d give it a second look.  So I grabbed a few brochures from the vet’s office to compare rates and coverage.

Our dogs

We have three dogs.  Yes, more than necessary.  We’re suckers, we know.  Here’s what we’re dealing with:

Zipper – male, nearly 11 year-old long-haired black lab-mix.  Because of his age, he may not qualify but for basic care packages.

Lucia – 4.5 year old lab-mix female.

Odie – 2 year old male, sock-eating lab-mutt.

All three are fixed.  No litters of puppies for the MyMoneyMinute household!

Pet Insurance Example

Here’s a major pet insurance company whose brochure I picked up from the vet’s office.  Click on the icon to link to that company’s website:

VPI

vpi-logo

VPI offers flexible deductible options – $100, $250, $500, or $1,000.  They also offer a 5% reduction for adding a 2nd pet.  Here’s a sample:

  • For Lucia, a “VPI Major Medical Plan (Base Plan) with a $250 deductible = $37.33/month.  When you add routine & additional care (teeth cleaning, check-ups, etc.), the costs goes up to $59.33/month.
  • For Odie, the prices drop a bit because of his age.  The Base Plan is $32.72/month, while the upgrade is $54.72/month.
  • Grumpy old Zipper is only eligible for limited coverage.  Cost is $22.10/month, including “panic-moment” (broken bone, poisoning) & routine care.

With a group rate, insurance premiums on all three dogs would be $132.43/month, or $1,529.16 for an entire year ($60 discount for payment up-front).  So, when you factor in $750 worth of deductibles, I’d have to incur nearly $2,300 in insurance-approved costs in order to break even.  Each year.  Not to mention, each year the premiums will only increase as my dogs get older.

Conclusion

It seems to me that we are still better off to self-insure through our pet’s medical needs.  Even with Odie’s sock incident, our vet costs this year will probably be $1,500.  We would basically need at least two dog tragedies per year to make insurance worth it.  And that’s assuming no hassles and full payment by the insurance company.

Our other option would be to buy “Base Plan” insurance for Odie only.  He seems to be the young buck without any fear.  He’s very skinny, agile, and not afraid to run, jump, or chew anything.  A sock-eating incident & a regular vet visit ends up being $1,000, we would have paid about a $375 annual premium.  Add a $250 deductible, and we’d be $625 out of pocket before insurance kicks in.  So this year insurance would have been a money-saver to the tune of $300 or so, again assuming all procedures would’ve been covered under the insurance.  Buying for Odie may be an option, at least until his rambunctious puppy phase is over and he matures into an adult dog with a little more caution.

Other Policies

Here’s two other companies whose brochures I picked up from the vet.  Take a look at their websites if interested by clicking on their logo below:

24-pet-watch-logo

pets-best-logo1










Do you have a pet medical story?  Did your pet have insurance?  What would you recommend we do?



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