If, like me, you’re a pet owner, you’ve probably already decided you’ll do whatever it takes to keep your furry friend happy and healthy.
Even so, I was surprised to see a recent report from Consumer Affairs showing that 78% of pet owners would consider going into debt to cover a pet emergency.
Forty-three percent of survey respondents said they’d definitely run up debt if their critter required care, while another 35% said they might go down that road.
Younger people are the most open to running up a pet-related credit card balance, with more than half of Millennials saying they wouldn’t hesitate, and an additional 26% saying it’s a possibility.
With all this in mind, does it make sense to have pet insurance?
The answer, not surprisingly, is “that depends.”
Critter coverage can run anywhere from $15 to $50 a month depending on the type and size of the animal. Generally speaking, cats are cheaper to insure than dogs, especially large dogs.
So cost is a thing.
Then there’s the scope of coverage. As with people insurance, most pet plans have an exclusion for pre-existing conditions.
So if your dog or cat has a medical history, it’s possible, even likely, those conditions won’t be covered.
When I became a first-time dog owner, I didn’t hesitate to plunk down $35 a month for pet insurance. Better safe than sorry, I figured.
Then we learned that the ear infections that troubled him were deemed a pre-existing condition, so treatment wasn’t covered.
As time passed, it became clear that our dog wasn’t accident-prone or the sort who frequently finds himself in harm’s way. So that $35 monthly hit started getting expensive.
Ultimately we dropped the coverage, figuring, correctly, that the money we saved would be used for regular checkups and treatment.
But that’s us. Your thinking may be different.
Insurance, whether for pets or people, is about risk management — the ability to sleep at night knowing you can handle whatever life throws at you.
If pet coverage helps you do that, then go for it.
If, like me, you decide pet insurance isn’t the best choice, that’s fine too.
But think twice before going deep into debt. Yes, our animal friends are members of the family. But a cancer diagnosis, say, can be financially devastating.
Again, it’s all about sleeping well at night. There are no right or wrong answers.
If you want to explore your options, here’s a good place to start.