Do I Really Need Pet Insurance?

Updated December 13, 2020

Is pet insurance worth it? Will I get value for money? I get asked this a lot but, with respect, I think this is the wrong question.

Once you read about insurance from a vet’s point of view I hope you’ll agree.

How Pet Insurance Works

Dog and cat insurance companies are simple businesses. They need to make sure that the amount they pay out will on average be less than the money they receive. This is how their employees are paid, they can afford to advertise, and still make a profit.

Also, not all conditions are covered. Dentistry and prescription foods are rarely included, and it gets worse if you choose ‘accident only’ covers.

Pet insurance rarely pays its way. Most owners spend more than they will ever get back. So what is the point of dog and cat insurance?

I know plenty of owners who are thankful they insured their pet. Here’s why. 

Why Get Pet Insurance?

Although dog or cat insurance will help to pay for the simple things like stitch ups or lump checks, it really makes the most sense in two situations:

Ongoing (chronic) diseases needing long term management. These may be straightforward to treat but expensive in the long term. Examples include:

Conditions best managed by veterinary specialists. These are very expensive over a short period of time. Examples include:

  • Hip or knee replacement
  • Arthroscopy or endoscopy
  • Spinal injuries
  • Complex fractures
  • Management of rare or complex medical cases

Insurance is there so we can do the very best for our pets. It’s there to cover the high and unexpected costs that might prevent us from taking the gold standard of therapy. These can exceed $10,000 in extreme cases.

It’s there for peace of mind. For knowing that whatever happens you are prepared.

Just a word of warning though: unlike in human health, we still don’t have a direct connection to the companies to allow pre-approval. Vet practices generally need the owner to settle the account and then claim back the fees from the insurance company. We will help speed up the process by completing the claim online on your behalf as soon as you supply the forms.

Pet insurance companies usually pay back 70-80% of the claimed amount within six weeks, minus an excess in some cases. Read our guide to choosing dog or cat insurance.

Of course it’s totally your decision. You & your pet will get treated exactly the same whether they are insured or not. You will be given the same options and charged the same.

If you want insurance just to pay for the regular vet bills, there is another way. Research the insurance premium you would pay. Set up a direct debit of this amount from your bank account into one set up just for your pet.

Now use it only for pet health expenses. The average pet owner will find that they will spend less than they put in and start saving.

However, that still won’t work for many pets when something goes seriously wrong, or the best treatment is too expensive. That’s when I see people either thankful they’ve got insurance or wishing they did.

Now read: Is Pet Insurance Worth It!

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By Andrew Spanner BVSc(Hons) MVetStud, a vet in Adelaide, Australia. Meet his team here.

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