While the following study does not compare all available insurance plans, it is enough of an eye opener to warrant consideration. We’ve seen this topic debated frequently, with many arguing that it’s wiser to regularly save money in an interest bearing account to be applied to veterinary expenses as required. They may be on to something.
Consumer Reports recently analyzed premiums vs. payouts from ASPCA Pet Health Insurance, 24PetWatch QuickCare, VPI and Trupanion, whose combined market shares account for more than 90% of the pet insurance market. In general, plans were found to cost more than they would ever pay out.
That said, those who prefer the peace of mind that comes with having a policy in place are urged to keep the following in mind:
- Read the fine print. Twice. Pay special attention to co-pays and deductibles that can add up quickly.
- Find and understand exclusions, which vary widely by provider.
- Compare lifetime reimbursement caps.
- If you decide to save money on premiums by choosing only catastrophic coverage, select a high deductible for lowest rates.
- Skip most riders unless you have a strong reason to believe you need one.
- Keep an eye out for premium increases, which can be frequent and/or substantial.
In the final analysis, only you can decide if pet insurance is right for you. While many argue that a savings account and a focus on preventative care are all that you need in order to manage pet health care costs, Consumer Reports did find that some of the plans offered had the potential to pay out slightly more than the cost of premiums if dogs suffered multiple, complex health issues. If the idea of a big vet bill scares you, insurance may be your answer, but by all means, shop around and choose wisely.