Pet Insurance, a PSA

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When Mark and I first adopted Chance, we considered getting pet insurance. I'm the type who likes to insure things (as well as ensure things, I guess), so I assumed we'd get it, but we'd heard it didn't cover routine stuff (shots, yearly exams, etc.) and Chance was young and healthy, so we decided against it without ever really doing any research.


This week we will be paying a total of about $5,200 in vet bills, all incurred over the space of four days. Just like hospital bills for humans, these are pages of itemized expenses. The two surgeries were around $1,000 each, there were lots of medications, hospital stay fees, and everything else under the sun. Emergency vet care expensive.

We are now about to adopt a dog who, unlike Chance, has excellent probability of needing a lot of vet care. Leo is older than Chance and his breeds are known and know to be high-needs in the vet department. His chances of getting the gastric tortion that killed Chancey is excellent, as are hip problems and cancer. And that's all aside from the regular vet care needs of a dog his size (larger dog=bigger vet bill, especially since most animal medications are prescribed by weight of the animal and priced accordingly).

So I am researching pet insurance, and I'm floored at what I'm finding. It's not very expensive! Looks like we'll pay somewhere between $300-$400/year for pretty comprehensive coverage for Leo, and that's without lying about his age or his breeds, both of which raise the prices on the quotes. There are still some co-pays, or caps on how much the insurance will pay for a given procedure, but most of those look to my eyes to be pretty reasonable. For example, the VPI Superior Plan pays about $2,000 for a gastric tortion surgery. Chance's first one (the one that was actually a tortion surgery) cost $2,700 altogether. Putting Leo on this plan would cost $306/year, with an additional optional $99/year for vaccination and rountine care coverage. I find that to be very reasonable.

The take home message is this: if you have a large breed dog, or an old dog, or a dog whose breed predisposes it to medical conditions, or hell, maybe any dog at all, really look into pet insurance. I wish we had. It's hard enough to lose your pet without having to worry about how you are going to pay for it as well.


I had pet insurance for my puppies, and then for Layla alone once Tirza went to her dad, until Layla was about 7. Then I switched to putting the money I was spending on insurance into savings, because now I can afford to take a hit if something bad happens. Vet insurance isn't like people insurance - buying anything that includes the preventive stuff is rarely cost-effective - but it's well worth it.

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April 2012

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