Who needs pet health insurance?

In an ideal world, pet health insurance would be compulsory for all pets. In an ideal world, it would be cheap, have no exclusions, cover all eventualities, and you wouldn't have to wait for the claim process to get your money back!

OK, back to reality. The bottom line is that, in principle, pet health insurance is no different to private company human health insurance and so one needs to look at the pros and cons of a particular product offering carefully, and compare it with other pet insurance products before making a decision.

It is a truism that, like kids, motor cars, and food, pets cost money. It often costs money to acquire them, it costs money to house and feed them, and it costs money to keep them healthy.

Many pet owners make the decision that they can afford a pet based on the day to day expenses but get into trouble when the unexpected happens and their pet lands up needing emergency veterinary treatment. This is where pet health insurance comes into it's own. Unfortunately, this is often also the time when you find out whether you have read the policy fine print!

There is unfortunately no short cut here. Your pet deserves the best medical attention that you can afford. It is up to you to investigate the various options that will fit your budget.

Your pet health insurance options

1) Self insure. This involves putting a sum of money away each month in an interest bearing account which is reserved for non budgeted pet health expenses. The obvious difficulties with this approach are that (a) You need to be disciplined enough not to touch that money for other reasons and (b) You have enough time to accumulate a reasonable sum of money before you need it. This can really be tempting fate!

2) Ask your Veterinarian if his/her practice runs an in-house medical aid scheme. These were quite popular at one time as it gave the practice a regular cashflow but the admin was a major headache and in some countries it would now require the practice to register as a financial services company. However, you might still find practices offering this option and if they do, it is worth comparing the in-house scheme with the commercially available schemes.

But your best option is...

3) Commercial Pet Health Insurance.

Pet Insurance is very similar to human health insurance and offers a range of programs tailored to suit the needs of domestic pets. While pet insurance remains a relatively underdeveloped product in North America, with less than 1% of all pets being insured, European levels of insured pets range from 12% to 50%.

Why does one need Pet Insurance? Advances in the fields of animal medicine and surgery have been exponential over the past two decades allowing veterinarians to successfully treat conditions that were previously considered untreatable.

However with these advances comes an escalating cost of veterinary care. It is estimated that North American pet guardians now spend over $10 billion a year on healthcare for their pets.

This is not really surprising if one considers that one in three pets will need emergency veterinary treatment every year and two out of every three pets experience a significant health problem during their lifetime

Pet Health Insurance is a worthwhile investment in your pet and your pocket.It is an unfortunate fact that many pets end up being put down because the owner cannot afford the necessary treatment and the pet cannot be left suffering. This is a heartbreaking scenario for all concerned and, as a pet owner, you should do all you can to avoid this situation.

Remember that your pet's well being is entirely in your hands and pet health insurance is one way that you can ensure that you are never faced with a heartbreaking decision that is based entirely on finances.