Pets bring so much joy into our lives, but taking care of them isn’t cheap. In addition to regular costs like food, beds, cages, and grooming equipment, you also need to work about their healthcare needs. The medical costs for pets, especially in emergency situations, can be more than most people can handle.
It’s important to be prepared for unexpected pet emergencies, and many owners rely on insurance to take care of their pets’ needs, and to reduce out-of-pocket expenses.
When it comes to medical insurance for pets, there are two popular options among owners:
- Conventional pet insurance
Pet insurance Pet insurance works remarkably similar to personal health insurance. You take out a policy, pay monthly premiums, and if there’s a health emergency your insurance will pay out all or most (depending on your policy) of the vet bill.
While routine care is often not covered in pet insurance, most owners will tell you those expenses are fairly manageable. It’s the emergency costs that can be overwhelming, and pet insurance is made for pet emergencies.
Of course, as with any insurance, there’s the possibility that you’ll never end up needing it. The average monthly cost of pet insurance is $47.20 for dogs and $29.54 for cats, which can seem a lot if it’s never used. But on the flipside, the average cost of an emergency vet visit is up to $1500, not including surgery costs.
As much as you don’t know if you’ll ever need insurance, generally speaking the odds are pretty good that over the lifetime of a pet you’ll end up needing to use pet insurance on a few occasions and when you do, you’ll be thankful that those thousands of dollars are not coming out of your pocket.
Of course, there is another option available.
Pet insurance is the most common means of ensuring you have the financial ability to pay for a pets’ health bills, but there is another method that’s become popular over the years: self- insurance.
Self-insurance Self-insurance works a bit like a do-it-yourself insurance system. You take the money you would have paid for the monthly pet insurance premiums and you save it away. If an emergency
occurs, you can use the saved money to pay for the expenses, and if you never end up need it, well then you just saved yourself a good amount of cash.
Of course, things like this are never as simple or as straightforward as we would like to think it is. Before you go the self-insurance route, you need to consider a few things:
Are you really going to save the money?
Let’s face it, it’s hard enough for the average person to save for themselves, let alone for pet emergencies. Are you really the type of person to make sure you put aside money every month? Some people choose to set up automatic withdrawals into a savings account, but there’s always a temptation to start dipping into an account with a ballooning balance.
What if you haven’t saved enough yet?
The problem with emergencies is we never know when they’re going to happen. Sure, if the emergency happens when your pet is 10 years old, you should have enough in the self-insurance savings to cover it (assuming you actually have been putting money in every month like you said you would). But what if it happens when your pet is six months old? Maybe you only have a few hundred saved up by then and it’s not enough to cover the expenses. What do you do then? With regular pet insurance you’ll be covered from the moment you start your policy and you won’t have to worry about how soon the emergency occurs.
What about multiple emergencies?
Much like with humans, you don’t know how frequently you’ll need healthcare for your pet. Maybe you’ll be lucky to only need it once or twice during their lifetime, but what about the possibility that your pet gets very sick and will need frequent (and expensive) medical care? Will you have enough money in the self-insurance savings to cover multiple emergencies? At least you know with conventional pet insurance that you’ll be covered no matter how often you need it.
Paying for pet medical bills
Now that you’ve seen how pet insurance and self-insurance work, it’s up to you to weigh the benefits and disadvantages of each.
Whichever option you choose, the important thing is to be prepared for any unexpected medical expenses for your pet. For many of us, paying thousands of dollars out-of-pocket at once is impossible, but the alternative of not getting medical help for your pet is even worse.
Most pet owners would do anything for their pets, but facing the reality of paying hefty vet bills can force owners to have to choose between their financial well-being or their pet’s health. It’s not a choice anyone should have to make. And thanks to the insurance options listed here, it’s a choice you won’t have to make either.