Pet health insurance has become a popular topic as of the last few years, though insurance for pets has been around for some time. As our society continues to change and our way of life shifts to focus less on an agrarian lifestyle and more on a technological, urban way of life, our ideas and concepts about our pets and their value and purpose within our families has been changing. One result that has been influenced by this shift is the decrease in the size of our families. Animals have taken on an elevated role and are now thought of as members of the family, or as “children” themselves. Due to advances in medicine animals are living longer, and as with humans, they require more care and have more health issues as they age.

To assist in determining whether pet health insurance is right for you ask yourself: do you consider your pet an invaluable part of your family? If you answer yes, do you insure members of your family? Many of us acknowledge our furry companions as important members of the family but when it comes to placing a value on them we don’t consider their health as important as the health of a human family member. The answer to these questions will be different for everyone, but asking the questions and reflecting on your responses will prove valuable when you consider insuring your pet’s health.

Let’s assume you’ve thought it through and have decided to go ahead and research pet health insurance. I found the most helpful information about a variety of pet health insurers on the Consumer Reports website. Consumer Reports evaluated Pet Health Insurance companies to try to determine whether pet insurance would save you money. They use a healthy animal and then introduce health conditions to evaluate at what point the health insurance would pay off. Below is the chart they generated and an introductory excerpt:

Putting Pet Policies to the Test

We projected the net benefit of pet health coverage under nine policies for Roxy, a healthy 10-year-old beagle. Over the years, her vet bills have totaled $6,616 (in current dollars). With few major problems to date, coverage for her would not have been worthwhile. But when we added treatment for more serious issues, which increased vet bills to $11,944, coverage by some policies would have paid off.

 An article by Herb Weisbaum, the “Consumer Man” on,  advises readers to ask the following questions when researching Pet Health Insurance:

  • Is there a physical exam required to get coverage?
  • Is there a waiting period?
  • What percentage of the bill do they pay — after the deductible?
  • Are payments capped in any way?
  • Are there co-pays?
  • Does the plan cover pre-existing conditions?
  • What about chronic or recurring medical problems?
  • Can you choose any vet or animal hospital?
  • Are prescription drugs covered?
  • Are you covered if you travel with your pet?
  • Does the policy pay if your pet is being treated and dies?

Keep in mind that it will always be less expensive to insure a younger animal but many pet health insurance companies don’t cover for conditions that certain breeds have a genetic predisposition for. Also, pre-exisitng conditions are not covered but some insurers have programs that compensate for this but are more expensive.

An option to traditional pet health insurance would be a company called Care Credit. Care Credit is a credit card with special financing options that can help individuals afford unexpected vet care.

Another thing to consider is that Pet Health Care rarely covers a pet’s routine care: dentals, vaccinations, bloodwork, etc. This routine care is a very important part of maintaining a healthy pet so they don’t develop health issues down the road. These costs can add up! To help defray the cost and to assist our patients, the Ann Arbor Animal Hospital offers Preventive Health Plans for cats and dogs in various stages of life. The savings of these plans can range from 5-15%. If your are looking for assistance for the routine care of your pet, visit our Preventive Health Plans page or ask your vet about one of these plans.

After reading many articles on pet health insurance, the overall consensus from reviewers is that buying insurance is an individual decision, but the expense of a plan, barring a major health incident, will most likely cost you more money than it saves. A more financially sound way to plan for your pet’s unexpected health needs is to set aside a determined amount of money each month and if a time comes that your pet needs it, you’ll have the resources available to provide for their health needs.

Please see the list of links below for articles and information on pet health care:

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Ann Arbor Animal Hospital is a locally-owned animal hospital operating for over 90 years in Ann Arbor, MI.