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Pet Insurance – Is it a DO or a DON’T?

It might seem like a no brainer to get pet insurance—we have health insurance, so why shouldn’t our pets? The ideal goal of insuring your pet is to lessen financial burdens should your pet ever become seriously ill or injured. Before you go and purchase just any plan, make sure it’s the right one for you and your pet.
First, how do you see pet insurance? Is it a financial investment, or is it more like an auto or homeowner’s policy—you hope that nothing ever goes seriously wrong, and you want coverage in the instance there is a catastrophe? Emergency surgery can easily cost more than $5,000, depending on limitless factors. If that happens, the return on your investment in insurance for your pet would be great. On the other hand, depending on your pet’s lifestyle and breed, insurance might waste money, and you might be best suited starting a savings account specifically for your pet’s medical needs.

Pet Insurance

The Pros: Pet insurance can make treatment more affordable; just pay your deductible or co-pay.

  • Customizable Coverage: When pet insurance first was introduced, it was more of blanket coverage. Today, you can customize your coverage to fit your budget and needs, choosing different deductible amounts and coinsurance. Policies also range from basic, accident-only insurance to more comprehensive policies that include all procedures, even dental care.
  • Risk-Based Pricing: This means premiums are typically lower for a younger pet, and higher for mature pets. This allows you to budget for higher costs without having to pay higher premiums.
  • Multi-Paw Discount: Much like auto insurance companies, many pet healthcare providers offer discounts when you insure more than one pet or purchase a six month or yearly plan.
  • Free Visits: Many plans include at least one free visit per year.
  • Bonus Reimbursements: Some carriers will reimburse you for boarding your pet due to a family emergency, and some others include a payout, similar to Survivor’s Benefits, in the event that your pet should pass away.

The Cons: Much like your insurance plan, pet healthcare comes with a lot of fine print and exclusions.

  • Not all pets are covered: As with our own insurance, there are limitations. Most polices don’t allow you to take out coverage for an animal over 10-years-old. There are also exclusions for diseases that are breed-specific. For example: Golden Retrievers are prone to hip dysplasia, therefore are not covered for that seemingly inevitable disease. Also, exotic pets have very limited options–currently only one provider offers coverage and it comes at a high cost.
  • Upfront Costs: Unlike insurance coverage for humans, where you pay your co-pay out of pocket, pet insurance will make you pay the bill and send it to them for reimbursement. So even with coverage, you still need the money upfront.
  • Pre-existing Conditions: Unfortunately, if your dog already has multiple conditions, its insurance ship has already sailed. You may be better suited to put your money toward treatment and quality of life efforts instead.
  • Routine Care: Almost no plans cover the routine care of your pets. If you recently bought a puppy and think the best way to save money is to purchase insurance, look carefully. If you do find one that covers all the puppy essentials it may come at a hefty price, when out of pocket may be less.
  • Basics Not Included: Even though you will be paying a monthly premium, the policy may not cover preventative care, such as check-ups, vaccinations or flea and tick prevention.

Whatever pet insurance path you go down, make sure to do your research and find which policy and coverage work best with your budget and pet. If a pet-insurance policy isn’t the way to go, remember to come down to Fort Worth Community Credit Union to open your Fido Fund. You can allocate a certain amount each month into a savings account specifically for your four-legged friend.

Pet Savings Account

The Pros: It’s your money, fully accessible to you.

  • Immediacy in an Emergency: Opening a Fido Fund allows you to have funds within arm’s reach if your pet ever becomes injured or ill. There’s no waiting for claims or reimbursement.
  • Pawsitive Savings: Putting your money into a savings account rather than giving it to an insurance company lets your cash earn interest. While there’s no emergency, your Fido Funds earns extra bones.
  • Total Control: Instead of finding the right plan for you, your savings account is the plan. No one can stop you from having a Fido Fund for your bullied breed, or your elderly pup. You choose your vet, and there’s no fine print loop-holes.

The Cons: Self-discipline is necessary.

  • Risk of Spending: Given the fact that Fido is healthy 99% of the time, you will probably have the urge to use the funds on something else that pops up.
  • You only get what you put in: If you have only saved $500, and Fido needs an emergency surgery that costs $5000, you still need the difference. That will mean getting a loan from your local credit union, or borrowing from a friend/family, or financing it with the Vet’s office for a high APR, or the unspeakable.

Our pets make our lives better by existing and sharing life with us. It’s a somber reality, but we’re likely to outlive our furry best friends. To prepare to care for your pet in the worst case scenario is the humane and responsible thing to do. Now you know the details, so you can pick your plan of action. I’m curious to know other methods of caring for your animals that I didn’t touch on. Let’s have a puppy-play date and discuss how to be better Pet-Moms.

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