“To assess the true value of pet insurance, we gathered premium quotes from nine plans, obtained price data showing what veterinarians actually charge for hundreds of services, and interviewed executives from nine leading insurers. We worked with the Purdue University College of Veterinary Medicine to develop a reasonable basket of vet services for our model pets: Woof, a medium-size male mixed-breed dog; and Kitty, a male mixed-breed cat. We then conducted an in-depth cost/benefit analysis of the nine plans. Our most important findings:
- Pet insurance ain’t cheap if you insure for life. The total cost of premiums over a nearly 13-year lifetime for Woof ranged widely, from about $6,200 with Healthy Paws to nearly $22,200 with Petplan. Keep in mind those are just costs for buying insurance coverage; with most plans, policyholders must still contribute co-pays and deductibles, and not all costs are covered.
- Cats cost less. The almost 13-year cost of premiums for Kitty ranged from Healthy Paws’ $3,700 to Petplan’s $10,800. But, as with Woof, buying insurance for Kitty was unlikely to save us money over his life when he suffered only a low level of health problems—and careful, deliberative cats tend to have fewer vet bills than rambunctious, impulsive dogs.
- Insurance often increases your total out-of-pocket costs. Even the best insurance plans cost more in premiums than they paid out over Woof ’s lifetime, when he suffered only moderate health problems costing $6,646 in illness and injury vet bills, plus $2,360 for routine care, over his life. After we accounted for the considerable lifetime cost of premiums, our net out-of-pocket costs across all plans were about $2,900 to $18,000 higher with pet insurance than without it. Hmmmm…“