If someone were to ask you how much your cat is worth, what would you say? You’d probably tell that person the truth. That your cat is invaluable to you. That she enhances your life in endless ways. So how could you put a dollar value on her?
In theory, it’s virtually impossible to put a dollar value on how much our pets’ lives are worth to us. And yet, when they get injured or sick, sometimes we are forced to do just that. Depending on our momentary financial situation.
What is pet insurance?
Pet insurance is medical insurance for your pets. It’s designed to offset the full cost of unexpected vet bills should your pet get injured or sick.
The first pet insurance policy was written for TV dog celebrity Lassie back in 1982 according to North American Pet Health Insurance Association (NAPHIA). (We are unsure of when the first cat policy was written.) The number of pet insurance policies written since then has skyrocketed. The State of the Industry 2022 report furnished by NAPHIA finds that the total number of pets insured in the U.S. at year-end 2021 was 3.9 million, a 28 percent increase since 2020.
Is pet insurance worth it?
We helicopter cat parents can agree that our cats are worth everything. The more appropriate question should be is pet insurance worth it?
Let’s look at some pros and cons.
Premiums can offset routine care
Scott Doctor of Doctor & Doctor Insurance based in California and specializes in pet insurance among other types, says, “Everything in the insurance industry is a waste of money, until you need it. Depending on the pet insurance plan you select, you may get payments from your insurance company for every visit to your vet. Unlike something like earthquake insurance, it’s not a matter of will your pet insurance policy come in handy but how many dollars will they help you save when you do all the routine healthcare visits you will do anyway.”
Greater and more frequent access to higher quality healthcare
According to a recent joint studies conducted by VetSuccess, parents of pets who were insured actively sought healthcare more often than uninsured pets. Parents with pet insurance take their cats into the vet 43% more often (For dogs it was 73% more often.)
Premiums are low for young pets
Pet insurance policies are least expensive when your pet is young and has no pre-existing conditions. But that does not necessarily mean it’s not worth getting if you have older pets. Again, it depends on the plan.
Not everything is covered
It is entirely possible that your policy will not cover the condition your cat needs treatment for. Often, genetic conditions are excluded. Also, there are annual and lifetime limitations which means that you will need to pay out of pocket once this limit is reached.
Pet insurance makes you pay when services are rendered even if they are covered services under your plan. Pet parents can then be reimbursed with proof of payment. If you are one of the 64% of Americans who live paycheck to paycheck, you may not be able to cover the upfront animal hospital or clinic fees.
Financial security, not financial gain
The goal of pet insurance is not financial gain. It is to offset what you would pay in vet expenses due to an injured or sick pet. Most insured pet parents incur more expenses than those without pet insurance. This is mainly because they are more comfortable taking their pets into the clinic knowing they have a safety net. The return on investment (ROI) is peace of mind is in knowing that your cat will have access to care should he need it.