Should You Buy Pet Insurance?

Most people can go without pet insurance. Instead of paying out the money in premium, they can allow the money to accumulate in a savings account.

If you want pet coverage, it can typically cost somewhere in the range of $2,000 to $6,000 over the lifespan of an average pet. The chances of you having to spend that much on treatments are slim.

But if you are one of those people who would do just about anything to save your pet, then you might want to take the precautionary measure of getting pet insurance to avoid going into debt.

Gigantic Bills for New Treatments

A lot has changed in veterinary science, and the economics of running a veterinary practice has changed as well. Today a vet will offer treatments that didn’t even exist a few years ago, and the prices of them could make you cry. Think about these facts:

  • Your pet can now get treatments that used to be reserved for humans; treatments like radiation therapy and kidney transplants. These once-fatal conditions can now be treated at an expense which typically goes into the thousands of dollars.
  • Your vet now has access to complicated and expensive diagnostic tools like MRI’s. Not only does this raise the cost of the visit, but new exam tools can also detect problems that before would have gone unnoticed and untreated.
  • Because of these expensive tools and procedures, the cost of healthcare is constantly increasing.
  • In 2009, the American Pet Products Association figured that Americans spent $45.4 billion on their pets, and 12.2 billion dollars of that figure was spent on veterinary services. That amount was a ten percent increase over the amount spent in 2008.
  • There are not a lot of pet owners who actually have pet insurance. It was estimated in 2007, by the American Veterinary Medical Association, that 72 million dogs and nearly 82 million cats in the United States were kept as pets, and yet there were only 850,000 pet insurance polices in effect.
  • Insurance companies have teamed up with the American Kennel Club and Petco Animal Supplies to offer insurance to pet owners. There are also more than 1,600 companies including Office Depot and Google who offer pet insurance coverage as an optional employee benefit.

Exclusions, Deductibles, and Extra Fees

Veterinary Pet Insurance or VPI is one of the oldest pet insurance providers. It has seen its revenue increase by an average of 26.8 percent since 1998. This company used to own approximately 71 percent of the U.S pet insurance market. In 2007, it had $149 million in gross sales.

Pet insurance will not fix everything. Take into consideration that:

  • These plans generally have deductibles, copayments, and caps that will restrict how much they pay in annual claims.
  • The majority of insurance providers exclude pre-existing problems and hereditary conditions like hip dysplasia in Golden Retrievers. There is only one company, Embrace Pet Insurance, which will cover conditions like these.
  • As pets grow older, the insurance premiums to cover their health expenses increase in cost. Some insurance firms will not provide coverage for animals older than nine years of age, and the ones who do will have stiff surcharges.

The most expensive common pet medical conditions:


  • Intervertebral disk disease $2,844
  • Lung cancer $2,032
  • Gastric torsion (bloat) $1,955
  • Foreign body ingestion (small intestine) $1,629
  • Cruciate rupture $1,517
  • Foreign body ingestion (stomach) $1,398
  • Cataract (senior) $1,244
  • Bone cancer $1,059
  • Pin in broken limb $1,000
  • Brain cancer $916


  1. Foreign body ingestion (small intestine) $1,629
  2. Urinary tract reconstruction $1,399
  3. Foreign body ingestion (stomach) $1,391
  4. Rectal cancer $1,011
  5. Bladder stones $989
  6. Intestinal cancer $942
  7. Hyperthyroidism (radiation) $920
  8. Fibrosarcoma (skin cancer) $780
  9. Acute renal failure $565
  10. Mast cell tumors $497
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