Pet insurance

For those of you whose affection for your pets might one day threaten to outstrip your pocketbook’s abilities, here's a subject I think you should pay attention to — after all, pet health insurance isn't among the most rapidly growing segments in the pet industry for nothing.

The rising cost of veterinary care is fueling the industry as owners are increasingly treated to scenarios in which finances figure heavily enough that pets are too frequently denied the level of care they deserve.

Pet Health Insurance Facts and Figures

The vast majority of owners still eschew pet health insurance. In fact, less than 5 percent of us bother with it, which is kind of surprising when you consider these two relevant truths:

1. In the UK, about 30 percent of owners use pet health insurance. And they’re not so culturally different from us, seeing as they love their pets every bit as much.

2. Equine health insurance has been very popular and widely accepted for pet horses in the United States for decades now. So why is it that the canine and feline insurance market is still so late to the party?

The honest truth is that pet insurance companies are in business to turn a profit, which is admirable, in my estimation. That is, as long as they offer a great product and excellent service along the way. If you're given a fair shake when things fall apart, along with good customer service, it can be worth every penny.

Here’s why I believe it is something pet owners should seriously consider:

It gives you peace of mind. Think about pet insurance as you would home or car insurance. You hope you never have to use it but it can help set you at ease when it comes to emergencies. Sometimes even the most caring pet owners are faced with the tough decision of having to euthanize their sick pet based on a financial situation.

It affords you the best care. Even if you know you can pay for most emergencies and potentially life-ending scenarios, can you honestly afford the very best treatment option? Until you’re in a crazy situation, you may not truly understand your wallet’s limitations relative to your heart’s desires. If you have a good health insurance plan, you'll have more options.

It allows you to hedge against the worst. Sure, after you factor in those monthly premiums, you may not save money. In fact, I’d venture to suggest that anyone who really loves a pet would hope to lose money on insurance. After all, this means that your pet remained healthier than the average. And what’s not to love about that?

Unfortunately, it’s my take that most pet owners in the United States have failed to take the big picture into account. Their take is that pet insurance is a losing proposition. Some even suggest that, if you’re willing to resort to savings, you’ll be financially better off. This is, of course, undeniably true — that is, if you’re in the average to above-average camp.

But what happens if your pet is one of the unlucky? Do you really want to risk being in a position to have to deny your pet the kind of care you wish you could afford but that you realistically can’t?

This is when individual psychology comes into play. It’s my take that most of us — if we're willing to take an honest look at what our pets mean to us — would be more than willing to pony up for pet health insurance.

To read more opinion pieces on Vetstreet, click here.