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Disclaimer: Before jumping into this, read our Pet Insurance Glossary to familiarize yourself with the terms and definitions commonly used throughout this article.

Whether you’re bringing home a new pet or have one already in your household, many pet parents face a crossroads when deciding to invest in pet insurance. Our pets are more than just companions; they’re integral parts of our everyday lives. But when unexpected veterinary bills pop up, it’s time to weigh the pros and cons of having that financial safety net.

We asked numerous pet owners about their experiences with pet insurance and are sharing the experiences —good, bad, and ugly — of owners who’ve found it a lifesaver and those who might have a different point of view.

So, let’s cut through the fluff and get real about whether pet insurance is a practical move or just an added expense in the unpredictable world of pet parenthood.

Potential benefits of getting pet insurance

1. You won’t have to make impossible decisions

  • “Knowing that you will never have to make a decision about whether or not to proceed with lifesaving care is the most valuable benefit in my opinion.” – mycatisperfect (Reddit)
  • “Having pet insurance allows us to make hard decisions when our dogs are in the emergency hospital for procedures and, in some cases, a week’s time in the ICU.” – Christine Caplan

2. You can save thousands on expensive bills

  • “I have submitted over $15,000 in vet bills and got reimbursed for about $14,000. The first time was a decade ago when my dog bit down wrong on a bone and shattered her teeth and needed emergency dental surgery. That was about $3000. Then another time when she came in contact with a toxic toad (a common thing in Florida!) and needed emergency care. That visit was about $10,000. And most recently, my youngest dog was playing with his friend, and the other dog jumped and landed on his tail. His tail literally snapped off, so he had to be rushed to the emergency vet for surgery. That was another $2500.” – Kathryn Tretina

3. It’s not just for emergencies.

  • “I got insurance on my mutt, it was $659 a year with a $300 deductible per condition. I paid that for 2 years and found out he has a thyroid issue which runs me about $400 a month and will for the rest of his life. The savings here are obviously huge, not to mention he’s also covered for any emergency not related to his thyroid issue.” – urahozer (Reddit)

Potential downsides of having pet insurance

1. You’ll pay pricey premiums, and might not need to use it

  • “I think it really depends on where you are in the world and what your financial situation is. Insurance companies will one way or another always make money, so choosing to get insurance might be more convenient, but if you never or rarely have to use it (which is a possibility, especially with an indoor cat), it’s a lot of money you’re throwing away.” – Worried_Berry_ (Reddit)

2. You need to get it early on to benefit the most

  • “I didn’t have pet insurance, because I had a healthy kitten, after 6 months he developed multiple health issues out of the blue. Cost me over 3k in under 3 months. Now he has a heart condition and like 2 other ‘pre-existing’ conditions insurance won’t cover. If I had just gotten him insured as a kitten I would have avoided all this mess.” – [deleted] (Reddit)

3. You have to pay upfront costs

  • “I have, have worked in, and highly advocate for pet insurance, though I do think so major overhauls need to be made before it catches on for the majority…the biggest and most significant change would be more access to direct payment to the vet. People simply can’t afford to pay out of pocket first and wait to be reimbursed!” – Ebony R.

A vet’s take on pet insurance

Pet insurance is a good idea and I have been able to help some pets over the years because of it, but have found that certain exemptions preclude payments for the owners. Many breeds with congenital or inherited problems are exempt and I have seen clients cancel or become very upset when they find out after the fact. My recommendation is to read and understand those policies well before investing.

Bruce Armstrong, DVM

Who might benefit from pet insurance?

New Pet Owners: Those bringing a new pet into their homes can benefit from pet insurance + a wellness plan as it provides coverage for both routine and unexpected veterinary expenses, helping them navigate the initial stages of pet ownership.

Breed-Specific Owners: Certain breeds may be predisposed to specific health issues. Owners of breeds prone to genetic conditions or chronic illnesses may find pet insurance valuable in managing potential long-term veterinary costs.

Active or Outdoor Pet Owners: If your pet is often exposed to outdoor activities or has a more adventurous lifestyle, the risk of accidents or injuries increases. Pet insurance can be a safety net in case of unexpected mishaps.

Budget-Conscious Owners: For those on a budget, pet insurance can help spread the cost of veterinary care over time, making it more manageable and preventing financial strain during emergencies.

Owners with Multiple Pets: Pet insurance may offer discounts for covering multiple pets, making it a cost-effective option for households with more than one furry companion.

Peace of Mind Seekers: Pet owners who want peace of mind knowing they have financial support in case of unexpected illnesses, accidents, or emergencies may find pet insurance to be a valuable investment.

Depending on your or your pet’s situation, pet insurance may or may not be beneficial. It’s most important to take the time doing research on what plans and providers are available, how they differ and what they cover, and what they’ll cost you. Ready to jump in? Take a look at some of the best pet insurance companies on the market.