By: Kari Lynn Sherman
Partner, Max and Luther Publications
When I got Max as a puppy (almost 5 years ago), the last thing I thought about was pet insurance. I was
busy getting the important things like a crate, bed, toys, training books and figuring out what food was best for my new puppy. In fact, I don’t think I even knew that there was such a thing as pet insurance available. It wasn’t until Max was two years old that I seriously considered pet insurance for him. At that time, Max’s best friend Luther tore his ACL and had to get surgery. I don’t think I have to tell how expensive that was! I was shocked to learn that his surgeries totaled $10,000. Fortunately for him, his owner had pet insurance which covered 80% of the cost. So I did my research regarding the costs and benefits of getting pet insurance. I have listed some of the things that I learned from my research:
1. Pet Insurance typically covers out of the ordinary expenses for your dog which eliminates
financial considerations when deciding on treatment options for unexpected injuries and
2. Pet Insurance works just like car insurance i.e. you pay monthly premiums and are covered for
specific events minus a deductible.
3. Pet insurance does not cover pre-existing conditions which makes it important to purchase the
insurance when your dog is young although you can purchase insurance at any age. Make sure
that you understand what pre-existing conditions that your dog has. Younger dogs = lower
4. Routine care is not usually covered; however some companies offer “wellness” riders that cover
items such as annual vaccines, flea medication, nail trims and annual check-ups.
5. Allows you to choose any vet – just need to submit receipts to the pet insurance company.
6. Does not discriminate against breeds or age although older dogs typically have higher premiums
and the aforementioned pre-existing conditions to consider.
7. Helps to budget for annual costs related to your pets:
o Annual care for your dog averages $350/year (vet visit, vaccines, flea meds, etc.)
o Annual premiums for pet insurance range between $20-$50/month
I ended up purchasing pet insurance for Max with a wellness rider. The wellness rider covers a large
portion of his annual vaccines, flea medications and his annual vet check-up. About a year after I got the pet insurance, Max developed allergies which resulted in his need of daily (expensive) medication which has been fully covered. I have never regretted getting pet insurance for him and now I never have to worry about the cost if he needs an expensive treatment or an emergency arises.
Based on my research, the following companies are ranked as the best for pet insurance based on customer surveys:
1. Healthy Paws
3. Nationwide /VPI
4. Pet Plan
As a final note, I learned that only 4% of pet owners actually have pet insurance on their dogs. Clearly, dog owners should do a better job educating themselves and others regarding pet insurance.
*** Kari is the co-author for 2 books, True Tails from the Dog Park & True Tails II from the Dog Park. They make great gifts for any dog lover! Click here to find them on Amazon! ***