When faced with monthly bills for utilities, the cost of running your home, property and contents insurance, food and other necessities, it can be overwhelming. It may therefore be tempting to forget about adding pet insurance to an already long list of bills, or to get basic insurance which doesn’t really cover everything you need, especially if your pet is young and healthy and has never had to go to the vet before. However, there are a number of problems associated with under-insuring, or not insuring, your pets that you should consider.
Vets’ bills you cannot pay
The most obvious problem with under-insuring your pets is that if they have a severe health problem or have a serious accident, you may not be able to afford to pay the bills with which you are presented. A one-off visit to the vet for a minor complaint may not cost too much, but if your pet has to have an operation and you then have to take it to the vets for several follow-up appointments, the cost could be astronomical. A Wall Street Journal article in 2009 cites a lady who spent over $30,000 on treatment for her two dogs; that is an amount of money that a regular person simply doesn’t have to hand.
Letting your pet suffer
If you are aware that your pets aren’t properly insured, you are less likely to want to take them to the vet at the first sign of illness, hoping that whatever it is will right itself. Hopefully, it will, but then again, it may be an issue that is easily curable if caught in time, but not if it is left to fester. On the other hand, if you know that you are going to get at least part of the bill paid for on your insurance, you will be more likely to make an appointment for your pet straight away and ensure that your pet doesn’t have to suffer at all.
Having to have your pet put down
Faced with the possibility of vets’ bills that you cannot pay, you may have to decide what to do with your pet and, in the case of serious illness, your only option may be to have your pet put down. It is always devastating to have to make this decision, but if you know that you could have opted for treatment to keep your pet alive had you not under-insured your pet, you will have to live with that knowledge. Without decent insurance, the only other alternative is to borrow money and get into debt – which is also a difficult decision to have to accept.
Older pets may be uninsurable
It can be tempting to think that, while they are young and healthy, you will either not bother to insure your pets, or you will only insure them for very basic coverage. However, as pets get older, the cost of their insurance is likely to rise too. Some insurers will not cover older pets at all, unless the owner is renewing an existing policy and those that will cover older pets are likely to ask for a high premium to cover the risk. Before you decide on a policy, or decide not to bother with insurance at all, it is best to double check what the insurer is prepared to cover in the future.
You may have to pay upfront
In some cases, you may have an insurance policy for your pet, but you may still have to pay for any treatment upfront, then claim it back later. That is fine if you can afford to pay the costs upfront, but if you can’t, the fact that you have insurance may be a moot point. Ensure that you know exactly what you need to do if you want to claim on your insurance so that you can avoid issues like this. It may be worth paying a little more just so that you don’t need to worry about paying huge bills upfront, or what to do if you have lost receipts when you come to claim.
Most policies have limitations
Choosing a cheap policy is likely to have another disadvantage, because it will almost certainly include limitations. It may cover accidents and health issues, but not the regular injections and check-ups that your pet needs and that can add up substantially. It may only cover a certain amount of your bill and it may not cover certain illnesses at all, such as hereditary ones. The cheaper the policy, the more limitations it is likely to have. Make sure that you read the small print very carefully and that you ask relevant questions before you sign on the dotted line.
Your pet is an important part of your family. Make sure that you are prepared for its future by sorting out decent insurance while it is still young and healthy.