Pets, especially large dogs, can be extremely expensive. Between food costs, supplements and medicines, vet bills, and the rare--and hopefully infrequent--emergency visits, the costs of pet ownership tally up quickly. For most of the above items there isn't much wiggle room. Food costs are flat, and should never fluctuate more than a few dollars from a puppy to a full sized dog. Supplements and medicines are perhaps more infrequent, but each has its own schedule, and many are inexpensive.
Vet bills and emergency visits are the exception. These costs, which can quickly sum into the many thousands of dollars, aren't standardized. The biggest bills generally aren't routine, and unfortunately, even with proper planning, financial difficulties from other expenditures often puts pet owners in a difficult spot between Fido and their finances.
The Wonders of Dog Insurance
The quickly emerging market of dog insurance has provided for a way for pet owners to reduce their exposure to extremely large, out of pocket costs. Dog insurance typically comes in three different insurance levels, and just like human health insurance, the limits of coverage can be very high or low, picking coverage for any number of different illnesses, injuries, or medications.
One of the most simple forms of pet insurance is a deductible based pet insurance plan. With this type of insurance, pet owners have a “per incident” deductible ranging from $100 to $500, then a “per incident coverage limit” ranging from $1,000 and beyond, and finally a lifetime cap.
Customers pay a very small monthly or annual premium and for each visit to the vet pay only their standard deductible. So, if one were to own insurance with a $100 deductible, all the costs above $100 would be paid for by the insurance company, up to the incident maximum, usually of $2,000. A lifetime cap, usually in the tens of thousands of dollars ($50,000) is only rarely met. This type of coverage is considered “catastrophic” and cannot be used on regular annual examinations or evaluations.
More expensive coverage exists for those who would prefer complete coverage for their dog's veterinary medical needs, including medications or supplements. These plans, typically ranging from $50 to $100 per month, are all-inclusive, and carry as much catastrophic coverage as the above plans, but include coverage for smaller items, as well.
An important consideration are different riders and coverage for breed specific illness. Depending on the insurance company, and the price you're willing to pay, coverage for breed specific illnesses may not be covered. Hip dysplasia, for example, is a common problem among large breed dogs. Your insurance company may deny claims due to this specific problem, or may request significantly higher premiums to insure your large breed from veterinary bills resulting from hip dysplasia.
The Emotional and Budgeting Benefit
You might be thinking that dog insurance is a bit ridiculous--a financial product you'll never need. While most never truly need any insurance, it is often one or several accidents that make the uninsured wish they had insurance.
Expensive full-coverage plans allow dog owners the ability to walk in and out of a veterinary clinic without a bill, or be reimbursed in full for all out of pocket expenditures. The dog owner's costs, then, are limited only to the amount of premiums he or she pays monthly.
But perhaps the largest benefit is a disconnect between your beloved pet and your finances. A properly insured pet owner with catastrophic coverage will never, ever have to choose between their bank balance and their pet's life as long as they make payments for their insurance. Each year, thousands of animals are euthanized because their owners could not afford to pay for emergency treatments.
If nothing else, catastrophic insurance provides for the comfort that you'll always be able to pay for emergency treatment for your dog in a time of need. This benefit is worth the small cost to many pet owners, even if they never have to use their insurance.