Friday, December 17, 2010

Should you buy pet insurance?

Older cats like Jasper might need pet health insurance
Note: This is a very old blog post that no longer reflects my opinion on this subject. For a more comprehensive view of this issue (with new data!), click here

Last week, I took Jasper in for his advanced dental cleaning. He had a significant case of tartar buildup, and had multiple teeth pulled. He was under anesthesia for this procedure (of course), and at 10 years old, he's an older cat. As a result, he had extensive blood work testing performed, to ensure he could have anesthesia and still wake up without complications.

The final price tag for all of this work was close to $800.

Now, that's reasonable, considering the significant amount of work he had done. But several people have asked me if I had pet insurance, implying that if I did have insurance, the costs would have been covered.

I do not have pet insurance, and I don't advise it for most pet owners I know.


Many veterinary insurance policies contain hidden clauses that protect the company from large claims. A policy I considered for Liam (very briefly) wouldn't have paid for anything "known to affect the breed." This means all eye issues, hip issues and skin issues wouldn't have been covered. Additionally, any problems caused by "owner neglect" would not have been covered.

I couldn't think of anything that might happen to him that wouldn't fall within these two categories. Bee sting? Owner neglect! Skin rash? Breed-specific problem! Luxating patella? Breed-specific problem AND owner neglect (if I let him get fat first).

I do keep a savings account for my pets. And I do my due diligence to keep them healthy at home. I consider these steps the best kind of insurance.