by Brian Spero
The veterinary industry is on the rise, with Americans spending around $50 billion on their pets in 2011 — the lion's share going to healthcare expenses. Yet with so much money being earmarked for medical costs, only a small percentage of pet owners opt for veterinary pet insurance. While most experts agree that pet insurance isn't for everyone, it is an increasingly viable option due to the rising cost of healthcare for animals and the growing prominence of pets in the family home.
If you are weighing the decision on whether to buy health insurance for your pet, here are several instances in which this purchase makes sense.
1. When You Wouldn't Be Able to Cover Expenses Otherwise
One of the biggest reasons many people pass on pet health insurance is because it's yet another monthly bill to add the pile of expenses. However, it's important to ask yourself: In the case of a sudden emergency or illness, would I be able to come up with the money to save my pet's life?
For instance, while pet insurance might cost $20 to $50 a month, depending on various determining factors, a case of intervertebral disc disease (which is fairly common) could cost as much as $3,000 to treat.
2. When Risk Is High, and So Is the Worry
Some cats and dogs spend most of their lives in or around the house, away from risks of disease or injury. Others, like "outdoor cats," put themselves more often in harm's way. When worry is a reality that occupies your mind for good reason, it can understandably tilt you in favor of carrying pet insurance.
3. When You've Made a Big Investment
Every pet that comes into your home represents both a financial and emotional investment. However, there are certain instances that may better warrant purchasing pet insurance. When you've spent thousands of dollars on the cost of a dog, or are planning on responsibly breeding, you have a lot more at stake financially. If you would consider expensive medicines and cutting-edge procedures to keep your pet in top shape, pet health insurance can limit the risk of hefty out-of-pocket expenditures that might otherwise cripple your financial flexibility.
4. When You Have the Means, and Value the Peace of Mind
Some see pet health insurance as an extra expense that could bust their budget. But for those with the financial flexibility to make the monthly payment without difficulty, it might be worth it for the peace of mind it offers. With insurance, you can take advantage of the benefits of top quality care, guard against the unexpected, and possibly sleep a little bit better at night.
5. When There's Nothing You Wouldn't Do for Your Pet
One of the main reasons animal owners now spend more money than ever is because they increasingly consider their pets as part of the family. When you adopt that mentality you are much more likely to take a longer look at having them covered in case of an accident. One of the most common physical conditions that require attention for pets is foreign body ingestion, which requires surgery that costs approximately $1,500. If your family is the type that couldn't bear to let your pet suffer at any cost or would fight a disease like cancer until the end, you're a prime candidate to carry insurance.
There are many factors to be weighed when determining whether to purchase a pet health insurance policy. What's most important is learning the facts about pet insurance and the modern dynamics of veterinary care. Ultimately, there are no wrong answers as long as each individual recognizes the responsibility to his or her pet's health and has a feasible plan in the event of an accident or illness.
Have you purchased health insurance for your pet?
Brian Spero is a contributor for the finance resource, Money Crashers Personal Finance, with topics on healthcare, money management, family and pets, and more.