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To Pet Insurance or Not to Pet Insurance – That is the Question

Posted 05.04.20 by Drew McWatters, DVM

You have insurance for everything. Your health, your car, your house, your boat, even the new tech device you buy comes with an option for insurance. So why don’t you have insurance on your pet? Pet insurance has been around since 1980 yet only an estimated 1-2% of pets are insured and I meet many pet owners who don’t even know pet insurance is an option. 

Chocolate lab puppy
Have a new puppy? You might want to think about signing up for pet insurance.

For those who know about pet insurance, the most common question I get from pet owners is, “Do I need pet insurance?”. The short answer is, “No”. You don’t need pet insurance any more than you need any of the types of insurance I listed about. If you have the means to pay every bill in full at the time of service and are willing to do so, you do not need pet insurance. But for many pet owners, pet insurance makes a lot of sense and should be considered. 

So why should you consider pet insurance?

1) Mitigate Risk

Dr. Madison cruciate surgery

This is the most obvious reason for insurance. It is impossible to predict when your pet will have a major medical event or develop a chronic condition and pet insurance is a way to plan for these situations when they arise. Whether it’s a $3,000 ACL repair, a $2,000 hospital bill or $100 a month for chronic medications you are better prepared to handle the unforeseen situations in your pets life when you have pet insurance. 

2) Spread out costs 

We pay for the health care costs of our pets with discretionary income. Many of the families I meet have the means to pay for their pets medical bills, but it would be really helpful to spread those costs out rather than paying lump sums. Insurance allows you to effectively do this without the risk of the interest fees associated with payment plans. While most insurance companies do require you to pay the bill up front, all eligible expenses are reimbursed 80-90% depending on your specific plan. 

3) Make medical choices for your pet based on what they need instead of how much it costs. 

Can you imagine your doctor recommending a test for you or your child and you saying “no” because it cost too much? This would not be acceptable for your human family members so why should it be acceptable for your pets? Pet insurance takes the stress out of vet visits by allowing you to care for your pets medical needs the way you want to without having to worry about the cost. 

Have I convinced you? Great! Here are a few things to consider when choosing a plan:

1) Not all companies and plans are created equal.

Like in human insurance, some companies and plans are better than others. Take time to compare plans, compare costs, and compare companies. While we, at The Pet Hospitals, are not licensed insurance sales people and therefore cannot recommend specific plans, our website does list several companies that our clients are consistently happy with. 

2) Consider what you actually need.

Some plans include wellness visits while others only cover sick visits. Deductible and premiums vary depending on what is being covered. You can save considerable money by only paying for what you need.

3) Ask for a “Medical Record Audit”.

Once you choose a company and plan, ask for a Medical Record Audit of your pet. This requires the company to put in writing any conditions they may not cover. Sometimes a pre-existing condition or exclusion based on your policy may not be obvious to you or your vet. The Medical Record Audit helps clarify this. 

4) When possible, seek pre-authorization for major diagnostics or procedures.

While the Medical Record Audit should spell out exactly if something will be covered, it is always nice to have peace of mind before you incur the bill that you will be reimbursed. 

Still want more information? Come talk to any of our doctors or check out the Pet Insurance Podcast at

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